Friday, February 24, 2012
Rumblings: Kings soften Brown trade talk, Penguins look for backup goalie
By Pierre LeBrun
More nuggets from Friday afternoon as we march toward the trade deadline:
- Ryan Smyth and the Edmonton Oilers decided a few weeks ago that he would stay put. The pending unrestricted free agent now needs a new deal. A source told ESPN.com that Smyth and the Oilers have begun talks on an extension.
- The buzz over Dustin Brown's availability softened somewhat by midafternoon. As my colleague Elliotte Friedman of CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada first tweeted Friday afternoon, a source told ESPN.com that the Kings now seem a little more reluctant to part with their captain. That’s not to say the door is slammed shut, but it is interesting to see how things shifted from Thursday night to Friday afternoon.
The Kings did talk to a few teams about Brown, including Toronto, but seem willing to hang on to him unless they get their socks blown off.
This is just me guessing, but I wonder whether the optics of trading their captain and the media stir it created overnight made the Kings nervous. Either way, I can tell you that more than a few general managers absolutely believed that Brown was in play as of Thursday night.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are poking around for an upgrade to backup goalie Brent Johnson. Among the names on their list is Minnesota Wild backup Josh Harding, who is slated for unrestricted free agency July 1.
- Will the Oilers trade or sign Ales Hemsky? The Oilers have talked contract with Hemsky, who is slated to be a UFA on July 1. The clock is ticking. Either he accepts Edmonton’s offer and signs an extension, or he’ll be dealt by Monday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.
- The Winnipeg Jets put forward Antti Miettinen on waivers Friday, something they had to do if they wanted to be able to trade him before Monday, because he started the season overseas. Miettinen has another year left on his deal at $1.5 million. This doesn’t mean the Jets will move him for sure, but it gives them the option. The Jets, meanwhile, are in an interesting position. They’re suddenly first in the Southeast Division and certainly cannot be sellers with the playoffs such a realistic possibility. A Western Conference source I spoke with Friday suggested the Jets are looking to make "hockey deals." In other words, they’re not buyers or sellers but simply trying to improve their team for this year and beyond.