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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.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently reported that the New York Rangers are shopping wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
The Rangers brought in both players this past off-season to bolster their offense with hopes that they would fit into coach John Tortorella’s system. GM Glen Sather hoped they would fill holes and perform at levels, but at this point both have vastly disappointed. Now Sather looks for alternative options to “beef” up his top six in order to gain a bigger presence up front, something Kotalik should provide.
What do I mean?
The Rangers want size in front of the oppositions crease in order to create more traffic to generate more offense.
When the team they signed Marian Gaborik they had one goal in mind: the Stanley Cup playoffs. Currently, the Rangers sit on the outside looking in, knowing some tweaking in the line up is a must.
Tortorella simply cannot work with the mix of forwards he currently has. Outside of Gaborik, most of the team fail to put together a consistent effort. We know the personality of Mr. Tortorella, a fiery, intense coach with a limited tolerance. The team’s current players show they cannot play his system properly.
It is time to make a change.
Look closely at the picture to the right, it may be the last time you see Peter Mueller in a Coyotes jersey.
The 21-year-old native of Bloomington, Minnesota continues to baffle both his coaching staff and fans alike with his minimal effort and limited offensive production. With only one goal and six points all season, Mueller sits on the hot seat almost begging GM Don Maloney to trade him elsewhere.
If you are keeping score at home, those totals project to an impressive three goals and 18 points.
Since the inception of Dave Tippett into the coaching staff, the entire Coyotes organization seems to thrive. Tippett implemented his system quickly as he took over in preseason with little time to spare. The system teaches his youngsters solid two-way play and evidently turned Ilya Bryzgalov into a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Meanwhile Mueller’s totals have only plummeted from a successful rookie campaign under Wayne Gretzky. Greatly slowing down over the second portion of last season many people had high hopes the talented youngster would turn it around. The right wing played 28 games before watching from the press box since December 14th.
So what will Maloney do with Mueller?
It has finally come time for the New York Rangers to see the light.
Rumors circulating around the tri-state area state that if the New York Rangers are to fail in obtaining a victory tonight, long time GM Glen Sather will be handed his walking papers.
Radio personality Craig Carton, co-host of Boomer and Carton in the Morning Show, usually is not known for his role in the hockey community. However, Carton reports that “Slats” will be relieved of his duties if the New York Rangers lose tonight’s tilt against the cross-town rival New York Islanders.
Craig told fellow co-host Boomer who the source was and in turn Boomer stated on the record that it is a reputable source. What Rangers fans have been calling for for quite some time now, is very close to becoming more and more of a possibility.
Larry Brooks also reported, via Twitter, that veterans Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik are healthy scratches for tonight’s contest. What is even more puzzling is why Sather would give Kotalik a three year deal worth nine million while getting Vinny Prospal at an amazingly discounted rate.
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.
Over the last 24 hours, numerous goalies became available throughout the league. We already discussed the availability of Jaroslav Halak here, but there are a few interesting options popping up.
John Fontana with Raw Charge wonders if the Lightning are shopping goalie Mike Smith. With solid depth in the minors and a significant amount of money owed to Smith this season and next (2.4 million cap hit) it may make sense to move the talented netminder. With the 27-year-old playing six of the last nine Lightning games, it certainly makes sense that the team would be shopping him.
Likewise, the Florida Panthers listed goalie Tomas Vokoun as available according to Chris Botta of Fanhouse. Botta points out that top prospect Jacob Markstrom seems poised to join the club after this season leaving them with what they would consider two top goaltenders. Markstrom is certainly the future of the organization, but if he needs more time to develop the Panthers may have another lost year on their hands.
Larry Brooks of The New York Post discusses the shortcomings on the current Rangers roster. The controversial reporter notes that the pieces that may have value are the same that the team wants to keep.
Most importantly he discusses a trade proposal supposedly between GM Glen Sather and former assistant and current Coyotes GM Don Maloney. Sather would send AHL defenseman and promising defensive prospect Bobby Sanguinetti for struggling forward Peter Mueller.
Although the former 8th overall pick managed a measly six points in his first 26 games it will take more to land him. Still young at 21 years of age, Mueller averaged 48 points through his first two seasons. Regardless of his slump he remains a vital part of a young Coyotes core and probably would not be moved until the trade deadline if at all.
A few things going around the league. Nothing huge on the trade front as can be anticipated. Most rumors or big deals will not materialize until at least February when we have clear cut buyers and sellers.