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If you’ve read past work on this situation, where I’ve sited points from Canadian radio or other articles around the blogosphere, you would know that the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes keeps going.
Late last night, via twitter, conversations came up that Kovalchuck and the Thrashers have hit a point in contract talks with most speculating the drama will conclude by week’s end. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN stated in an article on Saturday that the new year would have some critical news in the Kovalchuck endeavors. Well, all signs are pointing to LeBrun’s speculation as accurate.
Supposedly Kovalchuk will sign a deal with the Thrashers worth between 8 million and 11 million per year in the range of a 10-12 years. This signing would be great news for the Thrashers organization and bad news for 29 other teams that hoping to acquire the Russian sniper with a tempting package.
Kovalchuck’s agent Jay Grossman and Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell met this weekend during the World Junior Hockey Championships and with the team presenting a deal to Grossman. Now the decision rests on Kovalchuk’s shoulders. Does he want to stay in Atlanta, a place he publicly stated he loves? Do his his fears of relocation trump this supposed love affair?
There are still other scenarios however.
As we approach the midway point of the 2009-10 season in the National Hockey League, many questions remain unanswered.
Which teams are serious about playoff contention? Who needs a massive upgrade to make the push from a bubble team? Which team should sell off the year and attempt a mini-rebuild?
Those are some thoughts circulating the League as we take a look at the state of all teams around the NHL. Now, when perusing through certain rosters some names that could bring in returns which would benefit a team in need of depth.
Today, we look at the defensemen around the NHL likely to be moved by the March 3rd, 2010 trade deadline. As a side note, be sure to tune into “The Hockey Guys” on deadline day as there will be an all day live event with a live chat room for discussion on all the rumors and news as it breaks in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets officially make a deal in which Columbus sends solid left wing Jason Chimera in exchange for depth defenseman Milan Jurcina and surprisingly team captain Chris Clark
The Capitals receive probably the best player of the bunch in Chimera, who last year would have posted career highs had he stayed healthy. The 30-year-old veteran carries a reasonable 1.875 cap hit, a fair price for a grinding wing who shows the ability to put up points.
Clark, now the former captain of the Caps, admits to being shocked he was traded. This trade may mark the first time a first-place team traded away their captain, however it was the smart move. The 33-year-old sported a hefty 2.633 million cap hit this year and next, something a contending team simply should not pay for considering he posted two less points than Chimera.
In Jurcina the Jackets get a warm body on the blue line, something they needed since Rostislav Klesla went down at the beginning of the month. More importantly the Blue Jackets shake the team up, as they promised they would do. Used mainly as a depth defenseman, Jurcina posted four helpers in 27 games while carrying a 1.375 cap hit.
Although these are not the type of moves expected following the holiday roster freeze, two GMs made some minor roster decisions today. The Anaheim Ducks placed forward Kyle Calder on waivers while the Nasville Predators did the same with Dave Scatchard.
Calder skated to the left of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line however he turned in a sub-par performance. The 32-year-old Calder produced only two assists in 14 games for the Ducks while posting a minus-seven rating.
Scatchard going on waiver may be a surprise to some but with the recent callup and play of rookie Nick Spaling, the veteran became redundant. This move also frees up cap space for the team, albeit not a lot but every dollar counts in this economy.
In 16 games, Scatchard posted five points and a plus-three. The 33-year-old averaged a little under 11 minutes of ice time per game.
It makes one ponder what is in store down the line considering both GMs essentially freed up roster spots. Will it be the kids getting the call ups or will these moves precede trade dominos beginning to fall?
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Tom Reed of The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson will shake things up soon in an attempt to send a message to his team. Considered a strong team with room for improvement following their first playoff berth, the young team struggled and currently sit in 14th in the Western Conference, just one point above cellar dweller the Edmonton Oilers.
The difference between the Oilers and Blue Jackets however are injuries. The Oilers lost their number one goalie and arguably their number one scorer, if not for the breakout year of Dustin Penner and admirable job by Jeff Deslauriers thinks could be even worse in the province of Alberta.
The Blue Jackets’ problems prove not as simple. A sophomore slump from Derick Brassard and Steve Mason severely hurt their chances, as well as the deportation of Nikita Filatov. Couple those problems with the injury to top defenseman Rostislav Klesla and the Jackets lost key components to last year’s playoff team.
Nevertheless, Howson stayed the course admitting he would not make any panic moves. At this point a move seems too late. Recent rumblings around Twitter point to Karl Alzner moving to Columbus.
Some players around the League find themselves at a career crossroad. A crossroad with tough decisions to make regarding ongoing speculation of their final season. Speculation whether to stay on a sinking ship and finish at the bottom of the sea or leaving one’s comfort zone in an attempt to stay on top. Certainly no easy decision for any player
While Scott Niedermayer ponders his future in hockey he continues another solid year in his famed career. The same cannot be said for the Anaheim Ducks, who sit 13th in the Western Conference despite coming off a come from behind victory against the Colorado Avalanche. The team finds themselves as of this writing a mere five points behind the eighth seed.
The asking price for the captain should be reasonable, as he would strictly be a playoff rental. However, GM Brian Murray can acquire a potential piece or pieces to build for a brighter future in sunny Anaheim.
A quick look around the league shows there are a few teams in need of Niedermayer’s services. At 37, he still is one of the best defensemen in the game and a huge piece for a few teams looking for that extra push into serious cup contention.
Lets take a closer look at which teams could trade for Niedermayer in order to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. Even though he already carries four Stanley Cup rings to his credit, every player in this league starts the season with one goal in mind.
…with all that cap room?
With the loan of Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the NHL, the Capitals gained financial flexibility which should allow them to acquire some help in areas they deem necessary. As of this writing, the Caps 24 wins lead the League making the average fan ask: How can they possibly get better?
Corey Masisak of The Washington Times lists five speculative picks that would bolster this team as they prepare for a lengthy playoff campaign. As the team stands there is little need for improvement but one could make a case for another top defender.
As we know from our history watching the playoffs, depth is key. The team’s current construction has featured numerous players shifting up and down the teams forward lines as coach Bruce Boudreau dealt with injuries and juggling in order to find the proper mix. Still Masisak believes the most glaring need is this top defenseman. His solution: Scott Niedermayer.
Niedermayer currently captains the Anaheim Ducks and has lead them, as well as his former team the New Jersey Devils, to the Stanley Cup. In addition, this may be the last year in the NHL for the 36-year-old. Although he only has three goals on the season, he would become a powerful weapon on the Washington powerplay, something dreams are made of. He along with Mike Green would give them two elite puck-moving defensemen which would be incredibly dangerous for this already powerful offense.
Two players were placed on waivers today, Aaron Ward and PA Parenteau. Yesterday, goaltender Michael Leighton was placed on re-entry waivers. Lets take a further look at these players and the value they may have around the league.
Ward according to most Hurricanes fans has been terrible. That, however, means little when you play on one of the worst teams in the league. His contract expires at the end of the season and he carries a hefty 2.5 million cap hit. Teams like the New York Islanders or Columbus Blue Jackets have a strong need for another defender, but they just recently passed on Lukas Krajicek at almost half his cap hit.
As TSN’s Bob MacKenzie speculates, there may be more interest if he goes through re-entry waivers.Ward is a multiple Stanley Cup winner and should add a welcome addition to either team’s blueline.
Leighton sees re-entry waivers as he now is the third man out. Not starting a game until the end of October, the 28-year-old struggled to find his game winning only one game in seven appearances.
To be honest, I thought today would be a lot busier. Yesterday we saw a few goalies make their way onto the trade market and a few vets put through waivers. Today, we have a minor signing, those players clearing waivers and a most likely bunk rumor. Lets go over the action for today: