With the NHL holiday “trade freeze” set to expire at midnight, here’s a look at some of the speculation which popped up during the Christmas long weekend.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reported teams have started asking questions about Oilers winger Ales Hemsky’s shoulders and offensive struggles. While Matheson believes it’s time for Hemsky and the Oilers to “turn the page”, he points out the winger’s injury history won’t land a high-end NHLer. He also believes the Red Wings, Predators, Penguins and Rangers could have interest…Matheson expects the Ducks could get inquiries about Teemu Selanne near the trade deadline, but the only team he’d see Selanne agreeing to be dealt to is Winnipeg if they’re in the playoff chase…He also considers it possible the Oilers, if they “frame it right”, could approach Ryan Smyth about a trade to a contender near the trade deadline, assuring Smyth they’ll re-sign him in the off-season as a UFA…
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers should’ve moved Hemsky last season when his value was higher. They’ll probably get a draft pick for him now…Ducks GM Bob Murray insists Selanne will retire a Duck…There could be interest in Smyth, but let’s face it, he only seems happiest, and plays his best, as an Oiler. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick with him for the rest of the season, and re-sign him to a one-year contract this summer.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch recently reported league sources believe Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will hold a fire sale near the trade deadline, trying to move “potential UFAs Tuomo Ruutu, Bryan Allen, Jaroslav Spacek and Tim Gleason”. Garrioch also wouldn’t be surprised if Joni Pitkanen’s name comes up in trade talks. He has two more years at $4.5 million per season left on his contract…Garrioch also reported Senators GM Bryan Murray didn’t rule out making a deal near the trade deadline for another competitive young player. The Senators acquired Kyle Turris from Phoenix prior to the holiday trade freeze.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wouldn’t be surprised if all those Hurricanes UFAs listed by Garrioch were dealt by February 27th, but Pitkanen could remain with the Hurricanes given his salary and remaining value to the Hurricanes…While Murray could make another move for a good young player, he also noted he had to be careful, as he didn’t want to give up something which could hurt them long term.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Adam L Jahns recently reported Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and his staff are preparing for the February 27th trade deadline, and has the cap space to be active. He’s willing to give up draft picks and prospects to bring in the players he believes are needed to improve his roster’s weaknesses, specifically secondary scoring.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman is likely to seek “rental players”, pending UFAs on the final year of their contracts. Expect them to be linked to some of the players noted above, but I think their main interest will be in landing a good second line center.