The latest from the Ottawa Sun and New York Post, as well as the latest Penguins and Rangers speculation.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports on what Canada’s four non-playoff teams might do at the trade deadline. He believed Maple Leafs forward Kris Versteeg has the most potential to be moved, perhaps back to the Chicago Blackhawks… Senators GM Bryan Murray is focussed on moving Chris Phillips and Jarkko Ruutu. Mike Fisher is available but Murray’s asking price is high, and moving Sergei Gonchar has been called “wishful thinking”…Despite the Flames challenging for a playoff berth defenseman Robyn Regehr might be asked to waive his “no-movement” clause. Forget about Jarome Iginla being moved, won’t happen…The Oilers might try to move Sheldon Souray, whom they’ve buried in the minors, at the deadline but probably won’t get many takers…Injured New Jersey Devils winger Zach Parise could return to action before the trade deadline, leading Garrioch to wonder if he might be moved by the trade deadline if he’s unwilling to re-sign a long-term deal with the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Leafs GM Brian Burke moves Versteeg, Sure, he’s got value, which is why Burke likely wants to keep him. The Blackhawks won’t take Versteeg back unless they were able to move over $3 million in cap space. Remember, it was cap constraints which forced the ‘Hawks to move him in the first place…I don’t see Fisher or Gonchar going anywhere at the deadline…Flames GM Jay Feaster said weeks ago he wouldn’t move his core players, of which Regehr is one…Souray won’t be returning to the NHL this season. His NHL career could be over…The Devils haven’t begun contract talks yet with Parise, who has publicly stated he wants to remain a Devil. Like the suggestion the Senators could trade Sergei Gonchar, a trade of Parise at the deadline is “wishful thinking”.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NY Islanders, who were in the right in suspending goalie Evgeni Nabokov for refusing to report after they claimed him off waivers from Detroit last weekend, shouldn’t bother “tolling” Nabokov’s contract toward next season, suggesting it wouldn’t serve the Islanders to have an unhappy Nabokov on their roster.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks does have a point, but the Islanders would be fully within their rights to toll Nabokov’s contract toward next season. Nabokov knew the waiver rules when he tried to return to the NHL this season. As for those criticizing the Islanders, they’re out of line. It doesn’t matter why the Isles claimed Nabokov, they were fully within their rights as per the CBA to claim the veteran goalie. Criticizing them is baseless.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Penguins GM Ray Shero will have some tough decisions to make regarding his pending UFAs, among them Maxime Talbot, whose clutch performance in Game Seven of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final carried the Penguins to victory. With several promising prospects currently in their system who might be ready to challenge for NHL jobs next season Talbot’s future with the Penguins could be in doubt. The Penguins other notable UFAs include Pascal Dupuis, Mike Rupp, Eric Godard, Aaron Asham, Craig Adams, Chris Connor and Mike Comrie.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of this group I suspect Dupuis, Talbot and Adams could remain and possibly Rupp but it’ll depend on salary. Comrie’s NHL career is likely over after this season.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Jesse Spector recently examined what the Rangers need to ensure a playoff spot, citing a lack of a hard-shooting defenseman as a need which must be addressed. The Rangers could make a trade though currently there’s little available in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sheldon Souray has been linked to the Rangers as a possibility but if that were a possibility surely the Rangers would’ve expressed interest in claiming him off re-entry waivers by now?