In the words of one-hit wonders Timex Social Club: “Look At All These Rumors!” With the NHL trade deadline at 3 PM ET Wednesday, the rumors ramped up on Tuesday but thankfully the trades did too and goalies seemed to be the catch of the day on the trade menu.
As of 3 PM ET, there had been five trades in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers doing the goalie shuffle a day after signing netminder Ben Scrivens to a two-year contract extension. The Oilers shipped Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild for a 2014 fourth round pick and then acquired goalie Viktor Fasth from the Ducks for a fifth round pick in 2014 and a third in 2015.
These two goalie trades followed an early morning rumor from the New York Daily News that there was a deal in place to send Martin Brodeur to the Wild but Brodeur would get one more ceremonial start for the Devils on Tuesday night. That latter tidbit was the red flag in this rumor. With all due respect to the author of this report, there is no GM in the NHL, let alone sports, that would allow a player to play if a deal was already agreed upon due to the injury risks. Of course, the Bryzgalov to Minnesota trade that later occurred put this rumor to rest and Brodeur was scheduled to start against the Red Wings at the Prudential Center Tuesday night in what could still be his last start in a Devils uniform. But the guess here is looking around the NHL at goalie situations with contenders, there doesn’t seem to be a match unless the Capitals – who acquired forward Dustin Penner for a fourth round pick in 2014 Tuesday – were able to pry him away from New Jersey.
Speaking of the Capitals, late Monday night and then again early Tuesday morning, two different NHL sources told Murph’s Musings that the Capitals had inquired about the availability of embattled goalie Roberto Luongo and that the Canucks were listening to their and other teams’ offers for the goalie they almost dealt to Toronto at the 2013 deadline. When told of these claims, one NHL executive told Murph’s Musings “It wouldn’t surprise me. They’re desperate.” But as of late Tuesday afternoon, Luongo, who was disappointed not to get the start Sunday in the Heritage Classic, was scheduled to start Tuesday night against the Coyotes in Phoenix.
–I was also told early Tuesday morning that the Boston Bruins were one of many teams trying to acquire veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas and that it would cost them a third and maybe even a second round pick. Well, the Ducks were able to get Robidas for the fourth round pick they got for Penner earlier in the day. Things had been mighty quiet out of Anaheim recently, despite the fact they lead the NHL in points. But as Hockey Night In Canada analyst Elliotte Friedman pointed out in his most recent “30 Thoughts” column Tuesday as the Ducks began to make noise, Anaheim has been quietly micro-managing their cap situation in preparation for the deadline and were doing so again on Tuesday saving $1.6 million against the cap. Friedman’s thoughts 7 and 8:
7. We love the big moves. But as we head into the final 24 hours to the 3 p.m. ET Wednesday deadline, keep an eye on the small ones. Twenty teams are within $2 million of the cap. More than half of those are using long-term injury exemptions, which limits further flexibility if they’re expecting those wounded mortals to return. So if a trade for a draft pick or a waiver move makes you scratch your head, wait to see if a second shoe drops.
8. Who could try this? Maybe the Anaheim Ducks. The way the cap works, you “bank” the space you save every day and Anaheim’s worked very hard to maximize that. It has made more than 50 transactions back and forth between its NHL team and its AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. There’s two reasons a team does this: a tight budget; and/or saving up for the deadline. Anaheim is a budget team. But the maneuvering has left the Ducks with breathing room — in a year where they lead the NHL in points.
And to that effect, not that surprising that as the afternoon rolled on, the Ducks were reportedly in hot pursuit of Islanders winger Thomas Vanek who has been one of the most coveted players heading into the deadline.
–Speaking of paving the way for bigger deals with minor deals, keep an eye on the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens. The two hooked up in a trade Tuesday that sent defenseman Mike Weaver to the Canadiens in exchange for a fifth round pick. The Panthers also waived goalie Scott Clemmensen and forward Scott Gomez on Tuesday. According to an NHL source right after that deal: “Panthers aren’t done. More deals and maybe bigger deal on way.”
Could the same be said for the Habs who now have a crowded blue line and have been rumored to be listening to offers for unrestricted free agent to be Andrei Markov? I’d keep an eye on the Colorado Avalanche who had trade discussions with the Canadiens last month. It’ll be interesting to see if the Avalanche – in need of a puck-moving defenseman — like Markov would part with unrestricted free agent center Paul Stastny for Markov. Total speculation here but worth inquiring which I’ve been doing.
–Back to the Bruins, colleague and good friend Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported that the Bruins and Blue Jackets could be discussing a possible trade and after making a few phone calls, I’m hearing the same with the Bruins reportedly having interest in defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Marian Gaborik. Highly unlikely that the Blue Jackets, who are in the race for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, would trade Johnson who has been a stabilizing force and leader on their blue line. But Gaborik is definitely available and, as Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post Dispatch pointed out, young and promising forward Cam Atkinson who played his college hockey at Boston College, could be had in the right deal. It should be noted that Loui Eriksson was to miss the Bruins-Panthers game Tuesday night with what Bruins coach Claude Julien termed a “minor issue”. Eriksson has been hampered by concussions this season but obviously this prompted some trade speculation out of Boston.
–Finally, the biggest fish on the trade market, Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler had not been traded as of 3:30 PM ET Tuesday but while all the buzz was focused on the Penguins — who reportedly made an offer that included Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres and a first or second round pick — Globe and Mail columnist Eric Duhatschek pointed out that the Flyers are in hot pursuit of Kesler and why not? As he noted, the Flyers once made an offer sheet to Kesler and have always coveted him.
Still have until the deadline at 3 PM ET tomorrow so be sure to check back here for more insight, analysis. Also, I will hosting an NHL trade deadline show from 1-4 PM ET Wednesday on Montrealhockeytalk.com with Kosta Papoulias. Buckle up!