The latest on the Oilers, Blackhawks, Jets, Rangers, Islanders, and Stars.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: John MacKinnon reports Oilers forward Ryan Smyth said a report out of New York claiming he’d agree to be dealt to the Rangers was news to him, adding no one has approached him about a trade. Winger Ales Hemsky said he’s like to remain with the Oilers, but admits his future seems uncertain. MacKinnon also suggested unless an offer for Sam Gagner was overwhelming, it makes no sense to trade an appreciating asset.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smyth could be approached to accept a trade, provided the Oilers management guarantees they’ll re-sign him this summer as a UFA. Otherwise, I don’t believe Smyth wants to leave Edmonton. As for Hemsky, I’ll be surprised if he’s not moved at the trade deadline. I don’t believe Gagner is going anywhere, if for nothing else than it would reflect poorly on the organization to trade a player who recently became the third Oiler in team history to score 8 points in a game, and the first NHL player to do that in 23 years.
ESPN.COM/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman continues to search for help for his defense, but noted there’s currently nothing imminent, as there remains a number of teams still in the playoff race, meaning there’s a lot of buyers and no sellers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could take up to the trade deadline itself for Bowman to find what he’s looking for on the blueline.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the NY Islanders could be sellers by the trade deadline, but don’t have much to offer up. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and blueliners Mark Eaton and Steve Staios could be shopped. Forward P.A. Parenteau is also a UFA this summer, but the Isles would prefer to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parenteau has been suggested as good as gone by some observers, but they shouldn’t forget the Isles have been able to re-sign key players over the past two years to long-term extensions, so I wouldn’t rule out a re-signing of Parenteau.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger, responding to reader e-mail, reports he doesn’t believe the NY Rangers have interest in Jeff Carter. They like Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan a lot but it no longer appears Ryan might be available. They would also pounce if the Predators were to shop either Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, but there’s no panic in New York to make a big move right now, and they can wait until this summer to make a big splash via free agency…As for Jeff Carter, Dreger doesn’t buy the argument his big contract makes him immovable, claiming the LA Kings have moderate interest, while the Calgary Flames may take a run, though it would be difficult to fit that contract into their budget. Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke loathes mega-contracts, but Carter is the type of player Toronto’s been looking for in lots of ways.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter’s contract doesn’t make him immovable, as witness the Blue Jackets willingness to take it on last summer. It does, however, make him very difficult to move, especially at this time of year, when teams lack the cap space and willingness to take on such a big contract. The best time to move Carter is in June, when teams have more cap space and willingness to spend. As for the Rangers, I expect they’ll shop around for a depth player or two by the trade deadline, but I don’t expect them to pursue a big name star. They’ll do that this summer.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars have placed winger Brenden Morrow on IR for at least a week as he’s still bothered by neck/upper back pain which makes it difficult for him to turn his head.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should likely kill off the speculation of Morrow being dealt at the trade deadline, especially if he’s still bothered by this pain, or still on IR, by the deadline.