Saturday, February 25, 2012
Weekend Rumblings, bonus edition: Who's left?
By Pierre LeBrun
Some quick nuggets from Saturday morning as I make my way from Toronto to Bristol, Conn., where the ESPN team will assemble (picture Ron Burgundy assembling his team) for trade deadline coverage:
Hemsky Signing Changes Things
Ales Hemsky's re-signing with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night eliminated the most sought-after rental for teams hoping to add a top-six forward.
Notably, it eliminated a target for the Nashville Predators, who had their eye on the slick Czech winger.
There isn’t much left out there. Andrei Kostitsyn of the Montreal Canadiens is on the block. Kostitsyn will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and he needs a change of scenery. But he’s had a mediocre season. My sense is that the Preds have discussed him internally.
There would be pros and cons in bringing him in. On the one hand, you’d be getting a three-time 20-goal scorer with a chip on his shoulder, hungry to prove himself again in a new setting. On the other hand, having the two Kostitsyn brothers together in Montreal proved to be a handful for the Habs (Sergei Kostitsyn is now with the Preds). But that was then, when they were young players, and now they’re a little older. Isn’t that what the Los Angeles Kings were betting on with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards?
And so I’d say it’s a 50-50 bet that Kostitsyn ends up in Nashville before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Veteran Preds GM David Poile, as is the custom, refused to discuss names from other teams Saturday when reached by ESPN.com, but generally pointed to a difficult trade market.
"We’d like to add a forward, but right now there’s not a lot going on," Poile said. "Look at last night again with the teams winning. The standings are so close on both sides. There aren’t a lot of sellers. It’s not really your normal trade deadline situation compared to other years."
Certainly, between players re-signing with their teams and the parity in the standings, it has not created the buyer/seller market of most years. Some teams on the bubble, such as Dallas and Buffalo, are trying to make "hockey deals," where roster players are dealt for roster players, as opposed to players dumped for futures.
As for the Predators, they’ll keep working the phones looking for a forward. And you don’t have to worry about Ryan Suter, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1. He’s not going anywhere.
Stars at the Deadline
The Dallas Stars keep winning and the playoffs look more real than ever, so it’s hard to imagine they’ll be too eager to move Mike Ribeiro or Steve Ott, two players other NHL sources told ESPN.com earlier this week were in play for the right price.
Unless, of course, the Stars can entice the Philadelphia Flyers when it comes to young winger James van Riemsdyk. As I reported earlier this week, my understanding is that the Stars really covet JVR and will continue to pursue him. No question, he’d be a terrific long-term fit alongside Jamie Benn.
And what about Sheldon Souray? He’s UFA July 1 and the Stars would certainly be getting offers on him from contenders. But he’s a popular player in the Stars' dressing room, and as pointed out above, the Stars could be playoff-bound. My sense is that it will be an 11th-hour decision on him before Monday’s deadline.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers had a conversation regarding Nikolai Khabibulin, although I don’t think the Leafs are too keen on the extra year on Khabibulin’s contract. I think Evgeni Nabokov (UFA July 1) remains the best bet, if the Leafs do indeed do anything in goal. That’s no sure thing after James Reimer played well in a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday night, which might have cooled off GM Brian Burke’s desire somewhat. Then again, the Leafs host Washington on Saturday night, so let’s see how that goes. Nabokov might not go anywhere. His agent, Don Meehan, was slated to resume contract talks with Isles GM Garth Snow on Saturday. But even if there’s no extension, Snow might just decide to keep him.
The Ottawa Senators are without Craig Anderson for a bit after he suffered a hand injury using a kitchen knife. My sense is that despite the fact that Dwayne Roloson and Marty Turco could be options, GM Bryan Murray will make a deal only if he can find a younger netminder who can grow along with Anderson over the next few years.