Sunday Janaury 17, 2010
Trade talks are heating up with the trade deadline 6 weeks away but with some many teams still in the playoff mix, it’s unlikely many deals will be struck before the Olympic trade freeze (February 12 – February 28th) as teams are leery to make a run at veterans who are participating in the Olympics.
In the Eastern Conference the only team in sell mode at this point is the Carolina Hurricanes. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs are only 9 points out of the playoffs.
In the Western Conference, Edmonton is clearly in sell mode while the Blues and Blue Jackets are expected to begin shopping a number of veterans in the next couple weeks.
The Latest buzz on the rumor mill

Ovechkin + Kovalchuk = Cup?

It has been no secret that the Washington Capitals have some kind of interest in Thrashers star wing Ilya Kovalchuk.
Capitals GM George McPhee took a lot of heat last winter after failing to make any significant moves at the trade deadline and the buzz around the league is that McPhee will be very active as the deadline approaches. Adding another top-6 winger is a priority along with upgrading their blueline.
Regarding Kovalchuk, the Ottawa Sun calls Washington the odd-on favorite, according to one league executive.
“The odds-on favorite is the Caps,” a league exec told the Ottawa Sun. ” George McPhee is sneaky on these kinds of deals. He lays in the weeds and gets things done. He’s got the prospects and the picks to do this as a rental.Can you imagine Kovalchuk and Ovechkin together?”
Chicago, LA, Boston and Philadelphia will also be in the mix for Kovalchuk.

Rangers active in trade talks

The New York Rangers are in on just about everything. They would love to make a play for a Pavel Kubina or Tomas Kaberle but Thrashers GM Don Waddell will hold onto Kubina until the last minute.
Meanwhile, Pierre LeBrun reports, Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray could also be a target of the Rangers.
However, the Rangers top priority is adding a top-6 foward, most notably an elite forward to play with Marian Gaborik.
Vincent Lecavalier remains a target but the player Rangers GM Glen Sather would love to make a play for is Martin St. Louis. The problem with that is Tampa Bay has absolutely no interest in moving St. Louis, despite speculation that New York is the only place that St. Louis would accept a trade as St. Louis’ wife is from Connecticut.
A more likely target is Ducks winger Saku Koivu who the Rangers offered a multi-year deal in the summer.

Anaheim Ducks in holding pattern

The Ducks playoff hopes took a serious blow when Teemu Selanne broke his jaw and will be sidelined for 2-4 weeks. More bad news followed the Ducks days later as Saku Koivu suffered a sprained MCL that will sideline him for two weeks.
Currently 8 points out of a playoff spot, Anaheim has a number of assets to move at the trade deadline.
Despite being injured for much of the season, Selanne will be highly coveted. Getting him out of Anaheim though will be difficult. If the Ducks are out of the playoff race, sources tell me Anaheim will give Selanne the option of staying or giving a list of teams he would accept a trade too.
It’s believed Selanne has no interest in leaving the West Coast and has already won his Stanley Cup.
Meanwhile, defenseman Scott Niedermayer will also be given the respect factor. Niedermayer has a no trade clause and if Niedermayer is willing to be traded, Anaheim will accommodate him, however, like Selanne it will be his choice.
New Jersey will clearly be a potential landing spot for Niedermayer if he agrees to a trade. The Ducks prefer not to move Niedermayer as Niedermayer has indicated he may play beyond this season.
Both being traded appear unlikely at this point, despite the Ducks struggles.

Gonchar won’t be dealt

The Ottawa Sun reported this morning, “The belief is {Sergei} Gonchar would score a three-year deal worth $6-7 million per season on the open market, but he might be willing to take a little less to stay with the Penguins. As unlikely as it seems, if Gonchar is not signed by the deadline, he could be trade bait.”
While it is likely that Gonchar will land a contact in the range of $6 million per season on the open market, Pittsburgh will not move him under any circumstances at the trade deadline. Let’s put that rumor to bed.

Are the Sabres, Islanders for real?

The Buffalo Sabres own the second best record in the Eastern Conference (64 pts) and have proven through 46 games that they could cause serious problems to the top three contenders in East; “Pittsburgh, Washington and New Jersey”.
As good as Ryan Miller is, Buffalo (127 GF) needs to add more scoring at the trade deadline for them o to be a legitimate Stanley Cup threat.
If the playoffs started today, the New York Islanders would be the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. If goaltender Rick DiPietro can re-gain his top form, the Islanders have the ability to stick around in the playoff race.
However, the Islanders won’t mortgage the future for a quick fix.

Coyotes looking to upgrade

The NHL wants to get the Phoenix Coyotes in the playoffs and they will be looking to add at the trade deadline. Adding some firepower upfront will be a top priority for Coyotes GM Don Maloney.