NHL Morning Rumor Mill – February 8, 2013.

The latest on the Capitals, Bruins, Sabres and Avalanche.

Should the Capitals trade Alexander Ovechkin?

Should the Capitals trade Alexander Ovechkin?

WASHINGTON POST: Neil Greenberg acknowledged things may be tough for the Capitals right now, but trading Alexander Ovechkin isn’t a solution to their problems. Besides, it would be difficult to move Ovechkin’s lengthy, expensive contract when he’s mired in an offensive slump, while the cost of a buyout would keep the average cost of it ($3.8 million per season) on their books to 2029.  Greenberg points out Ovechkin’s value as the face of the franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Capitals slide continues, there will be changes, either to the roster or behind the bench. Ovechkin won’t be among those changes.

BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins shedding Tim Thomas’ $5 million cap hit for this season will provide them cap flexibility if GM Peter Chiarelli decides to add a significant player by the April 3rd trade deadline. Shinzawa claims the Bruins would like to add more punch at left wing on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumping Thomas’ salary was no surprise, and cuts the last tie he had with the Bruins. Good move by the Bruins to free up cap space for a possible deadline move.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier has called his counterparts around the NHL in search of a trade to help his struggling club, but there’s not much to be found in what’s currently a soft trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Business will likely pick up as we get closer to the mid-point of this 48-game schedule, but will it come soon enough to help a team like the Sabres? If not, it could turn Regier from a buyer into a seller.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater, responding to a reader’s question, believes former Avs GM and current team president Pierre Lacroix may be influencing the club’s contract talks with Ryan O’Reilly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever is responsible, the standoff with O’Reilly shows no signs of let up, and could eventually lead to his departure from the Avalanche.


  1. The Capital’s problem is not Ovechkin! He was very good at last nights game, and with a little luck would have scored more then once. The problem is behind the bench, and with Ovechkin’s support staff.

    • The problem actually is Ovechkin. On that team he is bigger than the coach, bigger than the GM, potentially bigger than the owner. They have gone through 3 coaches because of Ovechkin. Ovie does what HE wants, plays how HE wants. He is not listening to anyone. A Huge comparison to that kind of thing is actually Lemieux. In the early 90’s he didn’t like Scotty Bowman, so Bowman was fired (and went on to win Cups in Detroit). Lemieux didn’t like to practice and he liked playing with his friends. The mid-late 90’s were known as the “Cuntry Club” years in Pittsburgh because the team was run by fun loving Lemieux, not real coaches, GM or ownership. No one was held accountable for anything. The Caps appear to be heading down that path.

      • If OV was running the show in DC he would being playing on the left wing on a line with Backstrom. People love to take shots at OV, he’s spoiled, lazy, no passion, cheap shot artist, etc. He may have been guilty of some of those things in the past, but I believe he’s rededicated himself and don’t see it this year.

      • At no point do your comments about Lemieux ring true. What you chose to believe were rumors and never,ever proven. The real story was Bowman was not hear during the off days and never made a full commitment to the Penguin organization. Barry Peterson ran those practices because Bowman was in Buffalo. Mario never asked for him to be fired. It was a mutual parting of the ways, so Bowman could gain more power in Detroit which he was not going to get while Patrick was GM.

    • Manusa… Agreed. In a shortened season where every game counts who in their right mind makes the changes Oates has implemented? First you remove the play making center (Backstrom) from Ovechkin’s line, the one he’s had great success with over the years. Then even worse you ask your star player to play a position (right wing) he’s not comfortable playing knowing full well the transition will take time. This season is 48 games crammed into a tight schedule with little to no time to learn how to play on an opposite wing in a brand new system. With a full season I can see trying this out, seeing if sparks Ovechkin and gets him back on track. How many more games is the experiment going to last? Right now making the playoffs which should have been a layup is in serious jeopardy.

      • While not being a fan of Ovechkin I believe CapsFanDave makes a good point. If the coach has an idea about trying certain players in different positions he is able to see how that works out during the exhibition season. Experimenting with Ovechkin on right wing in a 48 game season might not have been the best move and seeing how lost he looks out there it might be better to put him not only back in his normal position but with Backstrom as his center. Judging by how things are going…what do the Capitals have to lose?
        Other than that the only routes open for the Capitals are…
        Fire the coach…been there, done that.
        Fire the GM…doesn’t change the team on the ice.
        Trade players…other than Ovechkin no one should be safe.
        Stay with the status quo…maybe get the number one draft pick…hmmm.

        • Ovechkin is in charge, if you don’t believe that….ask Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter.
          The whole playing on the right side experiment lasted three games because Ovi kept floating over to the left side and missing assignments. The guy has passion, and he plays hard….but he does it his way. I also believe that he was seperated from Backstrom simply because they didn’t show much chemistry, even after playing together in the KHL. The team will go as far as Alex and Nicklas take them, but I think that’s the issue…they’re built around 2 players….and that’s not good when those two players are on a decline for whatever reasons.

  2. How about Kessel & Bozak to Colorado for O’Reilly & 1st round pick

    • Or how about Bozak & Holzer or Gunnarsson for Sastney

      • Kevin are you serious? First, O’Reilly is a good player but he has not really proven much yet. Although the avalanche are struggling without him. Second, give Kessel hating a break. This guys game has improved significantly over the last couple of years and he has scored more goals than anybody else in the league over the past three years. As for Bozak, the kid gets no respect at all and all he does is improve every year, I think the leafs would be nuys to trade him. Unless it was for something significant, and I dont mean Luongo. The avalanche would have to give up O’Reilly, another player, and perhaps even a 1st to get Kessel. But it wont happen.

        • I agree with Drew. Even Kessel straight up for ORielly is lopsided. ORielly hasn’t proven much of anything yet. I’d say forget about ORielly unless he’s a steal but don’t forget which ever team gets him will have to over pay him for him to play.

        • actually, Steve Stamkos has scored more goals than anyone the last 3 seasons…not Kessel

    • ARE YOU CRAZY ??

    • I think that is a great move. Having Bozak along side keeps Kessel happy and we would receive a decent centre an along with a potentially good first round pick. Your trade is fair and refreshing.

    • while i am all for kessel getting traded, not for o’rielly and a first. we need to temper our love affair with him. he could be a great player but he has had one good year. he is a young player who could continue his game, but trading a 35 goal scorer for him and a first is not worth it. there are plenty of teams who would love to trade for kessel and im sure colorado would be one but how many peices do they ahve to throw at us?

      really it would be mcginn and two first for kessel and liles.

  3. The Caps’ biggest blunder was making Ovie the captain. Unlike Chara, Ovie is no role model for the younger players.

  4. The NHL is not as exciting as it used to be. Millions of trade rumours and never any trades. One time there were trades all year long. Now if your favourite team sucks, you know they are going to suck for years because trading is almost a nil occurrence except for minor leaguers or scrap players teams don’t want anymore. In a full 82 game season, in NOV they say teams will wait till the trade deadline to make moves to see how the teams preform. Am I the only one in NOV that knows Toronto, Calgary, NYI, Columbus, Edmonton will be sucking dirty pond water? AND…trade deadline comes and year after year, disappointing as usual. Garbage teams do nothing to improve.

  5. I don’t see what GM would believe O’Reilly is worth the money he’s asking, so I don’t know if the Avs would find any trade partners at the moment, even if they wanted to.

    He’ll have to drop his salary demands in which case the Avs would likely sign him themselves (unless he’s burned too many bridges, and then a trade is a possibility – but only after he reduces his demands).

    • Possibly with O’Reilly, he may really want out and is demanding an inflated salary in hopes that he gets traded. If the Avs give in, he stays and earns big money. Avs should trade him to Columbus then see how he liked Colordo!!

      • Your idea makes sense, too, Really?? I am curious to see how it plays out!

      • I would have to agree that this stalemate with O’Reilly is a result of him wanting out of the Avs organization. If he wants the 1st line center money, he wants to be the guy and not behind Stastny and Duchene on the depth chart. He had more points than Stastny last year at 21 years of age, and looking at Stastny’s 6 million dollar contract can’t say I blame him. If O’Reilly wants to be the no. 1 guy, I hear the Leafs are looking.

  6. I’m sorry to say, but the Caps are being coached with the wrong focus. They were built for speed and scoring. They are meant to blow teams out most nights with an avalanche of offense. This is where Ovie fits in and leads.
    The last two coaches have been defense coaches. They wanted the offense to come off mistakes the other team made. It worked, but the final results were no better than under the Big B-man. So why change it?

    • Washington although they wont admit it really miss Semin, and more importantly Knuble a real character guy and leader.

  7. Ovie needs his captaincy stripped. Less pressure on him and he would perform better (ei: Marleau). Oates is trying to teach a complicated system in a short time. Not sure if that was a smart move in a shortened season and it may cost him his job. O’Reilly’s demands are high, mostly likely because he doesn’t want to play in COL. The only person I would want on BUF’s roster is Myers he is dying in their system.

    • More like the Sabres are dying with Myers in their system.

      • Agree – Not sure whats happened there.

  8. Nice to see the bruins with cap space.
    Two quality forwards and a d man would help big time.
    With injuries never know down the road.
    Don’t have much defense after the top 6.
    Anyone have any ideas on a left wing? Not sure who would be available.

    • Nice poem Dave. LOL

  9. At this point, you can’t really say that Ovechkin is in a slump. It’s a bit more than that. This is his second full season of marginal production.

    The problem with Ovechkin is his cap hit. Even if he were scoring 50 goals and 100 points per year, his cap hit would still be too high. $9.5M per season cap hit until 2021 is just too much money for one player in a capped system.

    The best thing for Ovechkin probably would be a change of scenery, but it’s not likely to happen.

    • Personally I think Ovechkin is homesick. He just doesn’t seem to be the same old ovechkin. He seems to have lost some of his youthful exuberance and doesn’t show that toothless grin much anymore.

  10. Why are these reporters trying to find reasons for the O’Reilly hold out?

    It seems pretty simple what’s going on. We’re in a new CBA. Each RFA’s contract is based on comparable contracts signed. Several teams have and are taking a hard line on RFAs. This is what happened with Subban. It’s basically a reset. O’Reilly may have gotten what he was asking for under the old CBA, but this is the new CBA and his requested amount is not going to fly.

    • Well said.
      These guys say “I want what he gets” ignorin that he’s overpaid! Seriously, y do u think you were locked out ryan?

    • Hear, hear. Well said.

  11. If these players who hold out really want to win, they need to have a reasonable salary so the team can surround them with other talent.

  12. Ovechkin

    I don’t understand why coaches want superstars to change their game to fit their system. Shouldn’t the coach be coaching the supporting cast on how to play the game that suits your star player the best? It is a team game but I’m pretty sure the object is to build your team around your star player(s). It’s like saying if your goaltending sucks your star player should be strapping on the pads to fix the team instead of scoring goals like he was brought in for and if he isn’t a good goalie as well ad a scoring machine then he MUST be the problem with the team.

  13. Back in the day when the Oilers were dominating the league the GM and coach let Wayne Gretzky play to his strength and rather than try to change him gave him the best supporting cast they possibly could. That being said the “run and gun” Oilers still had to rely on Grant Fuhr to keep the games close enough so that 99 and his band of merry men could out score the opposition.
    Now don’t think for one second that I am saying that Ovechkin is equal to Gretzky or the Capitals of today are like the Oilers of their day but the point I am trying to make is that no one tried to make Wayne do what didn’t come natural. He couldn’t check worth a darn and couldn’t play defensive hockey but the coach knew that and not only let him do his thing but gave him other playmakers who could enhance his game.
    Let Ovechkin do what he is best at and maybe try to find ways to keep the games close enough so that by running’ and gunnin’ the Caps can out score their opponents. It’s obvious that what they are doing now isn’t working.

  14. You can’t just have a coach come in and tell you exactly what type of game he wants to play and have his players pried into a system that makes them uncomfortable. If they’re demoralized, they lose a step. Ovie’s still going through a stage in his career. He’ll find his fire again. His contract is otherwise untradeable… then again, I thought Nash’s contract was untradeable given that he’s so overrated, but Columbus Wizard of Oz’d him successfully.

    There’s still lots of season left. As for McFee, acquiring Ribeiro wasn’t a bad move, but there’s a lot of suck going on right now in Washington and it’s not just Ovechkin. Holtby isn’t doing it. His defense isn’t doing it. See, you look at NJ, and Kovalchuk isn’t playing to snuff either, but the difference is that the rest of NJ’s team isn’t sucking, so 2-8-1 turns into 6-1-3.

    As for Buffalo, what the heck happened to Ryan Miller? Ever since that concussion, he’s not the same!

    • Buffalo needs to hire a new coach. I like Lindy and I gave him 2 years under new ownership (bigger checkbook to work with/better players) and we still have the same result or even worse. Lindy has been in Buffalo for a long time and it is now time for him to move on and for the team to have some fresh ideas. I know Lindy says he is transitioning with the times, but I think his messages are no longer being heard. There are some coaches that can be brought in – Marc Crawford, Mike Keenan or Guy Carbonneau, but the time is now. We need a coach that is going to ignite and motivate his players. Miller- well Miller over the past few years has been “average” – you just never know who you are getting and consistency is not his middle name. He can make some spectacular saves, but then give up 2-4 soft goals. Sometimes Miller needs to steal a game and he hasn’t been doing that over the past couple of years. Backup, we don’t have one and I think this is an area where Lindy has been remiss. Either Miller needs to focus and tighten up his play – play to what he makes or he needs to go, maybe out West – trade him, Gerbe and Sekera/Leopold for Hiller and Ryan.

      • Jacques Martin and Brent Sutter are also a couple of coaches that are pretty good.

        As for McFee… they could fire him and bring in Burke. 😀

  15. OV hasn’t been the same since he stopped hammering guys into the boards and playing with aggression which was pretty much at the same time as he signed his huge contract. Maybe a change of scenery is in order. It worked for the Bruins and SJ with big Joe…

  16. Here are a few comparisons to the OV situation when it comes to age being a possible factor. By no means are these players washed up and by no means am I saying they can’t squeek out another top year at their current age, they all good players and most teams would love ot have them but it just goes to show that age is a factor given the fact these super stars come into the league so young. Maybe OV hit his peak at 24 years old after having 5 unbelievable top years from age 21 to 24 and is now in a decline for the rest of his carrear due to many different factors age being one.

    Age the following players had their best year and have declined since:
    Spezza 2007/2008 Age – 24
    Heatley 2006/2007 Age – 26
    Lecavalier 2006/2007 Age – 26
    Getzlaf 2008/2009 Age – 24
    E Staal 2005/2006 Age – 22
    Zetterberg 2007/2008 Age – 27
    Gaborik 2009/2010 Age – 27
    Nash 2008/2009 Age – 24
    Thorton 2006/2007 Age – 27
    Marleau 2005/2006 Age – 24
    Total average age of peak for these 10 players – 25 years old

    There are many more and the odd exceptions of course.

    • Kudos on the research but it means nothing. I could pull up stats from ten players who slumped at that age and them went on to be their original productive selves for years later and say ‘see here a list of ten players who slumped for a while but were hot again later so that proves Obie is not past his prime…” see what I’m saying’?

      • Sorryabout the spelling. Crappy cell phone.

        • Ya I’m not saying he’s past his prime because you put him on a contender vying for a cup this year he could be a power house. My only point is a lot of these super stars tend to peak around 25 years old then taper off. It could be because of injuries, they signed a big new contract or because there best years are behind them. What ever the reason it does happen more often then not. Who knows the real reason OV has stumbled.

          • Mypointwasthatalotofstarsdon’tpeakatthatagesotheirreallyisnobasisfortheclaim.

    • Spezza’s not declining by any stretch.

      Staal is playing better this year than he did last year, so is Zetterberg, Gaborik’s found his scoring touch again, and Getzlaf might have had just one bad year.

      The rest is accurate.

      • Each guy you mentioned is still a ways off from their big years. Granted they are all still super stars as I said before, my point is they tend to decline after 25 and once in a while pick it back up temporarily for what ever reason. Age is a factor as these guys come in young and tend to get injured more as they age. It was just an observation is all… Something to ponder with OV’s decline.

  17. I liked Adam Oates as a player, and from what I know he’s a great guy, but…and yes there is a but, history has shown that offensive star players dont make great coaches, even including Gretzky…..perhaps its because things came easier for them they dont sympathize or manage their own stars well.

    My point is, whatever OV did the past few years, hot or cold, the team was relatively successful, under both Bruce and Dale, who were complete opposites and played completely different systems. From what I have seen, its not just OV struggling but the whole team, and if the team has no structure, or the players dont understand the structure, then no one, not even a star will have success.

    I think Oates term in Washington is going to be shortlived.

  18. I’m sick of the OV hating. I’m not a fan of the Caps at all, but all your accusations of his attitude are completely unfounded. The guy has never beaked off his coach, spoke through the media negatively about his teammates, coach, gm or fans ever. He scored nearly 40 goals last year in Dale Hunter’s defensive system in which Hunter even said OV’s production was going to go down. As a captain, he is fine. His teammates look up to him and no one has ever criticized his play or attitude. If you take a look, OV isn’t the problem. The whole team sucks. Where is the criticism for Backstrom? Mike Green? The revolving door of bad goalies? The loss of their best defenseman in Denis Wideman? This team has more holes than swiss cheese.

    You guys are the same ones that criticize Kovalchuk, Malkin, Yakupov, Grabovski, Bryzgalov, etc etc and every other Russian or European player for either being a lazy player or prima donna. NO ONE on their teams or coaching staffs have every complained about them. They have been class guys on and off the ice. When a guy is an MVP as OV and Malkin have been, and a consistent upper tier sniper like Kovalchuk has been, there is hardly any room to complain about. The same goes for Kessel. I hate the Leafs, but the guy was nearly at the top of the scoring race last year and has consistently been an all star and high end goal producer in his career. And he’s not good enough for you because he can’t fight off Chara in the corner? Name one player who can.

    All this bias against European players is getting ridiculous. There are tons of Canadian players who are lazy and prima donnas and don’t catch half the flak that the Euros do. How about complaining about guys like Marleau, Thornton (just wait till their hot start wears off or playoffs come around), Ribeiro, Burrows, Heatley, Carter, Penner, Getzlaf and Mike Green who either go through lazy periods or have no class. And yes, Getzlaf is included in that if you watched him play last year. Mike Green might be the biggest prick I ever met. I went to DC to watch a Caps game and practice, and OV came out afterwards and stood there for an hour and a half signing autographs for all the kids who lined up on US Thanksgiving weekend. Mike Green came out and said he doesn’t do autographs when a bunch of kids approached him and walked through them to get to his car. Real classy.

    Stop stereotyping players from other countries. The Canadian guys I listed are just as talented and gifted and waste their talent too sometimes.

  19. Mike,

    Good points. I suppose its similar to people who used to criticize Sundin and now Kessel. Have the Caps given Ovechkin the players to play with? If it is just Greene and Backstrom, that does not a team make. Not adding other quality players, and not being able to draft the very best because they consistently have finished high in the standings makes it difficult to add the Halls, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupovs, etc. And they do not have anyone on their roster to trade for a first round pick, other than, Greene, Backstrom or….Ovechkin. A star winger a top centre and a top defenseman are not enough to carry a whole team, but looking at it that way, they pretty well have. They need to give Oates system more time, and the team more time with him. Would the Leafs be doing as well as they are if Carlyle started when Oates did, without the benefit of coaching 18 games last year, and those players being coached 18 games by him last year? Doubt it.