Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Rumblings: Ducks, Canucks and bad ref luck
By Pierre LeBrun
The clock continues to move toward the April 3 trade deadline without contract extensions for Ducks stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry -- both eligible to be unrestricted free agents in July.
Credit both players and their teammates, because it certainly hasn’t been a distraction for the high-flying Ducks.
My understanding is that the Ducks will have more contract talks with the camps for each player sometime over the next seven to 10 days.
It’s going to be awfully interesting to see how the Ducks play it as April 3 approaches if those two stars still haven’t re-signed. Just my own gut feeling: I think a Getzlaf extension will get done, but I’m not sure about Perry at this point.
On the one hand, you figure there’s no way you can afford to trade Perry, given that the Ducks are challenging for first overall in the NHL standings.
On the other hand, every GM in the league watched as Nashville kept Ryan Suter past the trade deadline last season, as did New Jersey with Zach Parise. Then the GM saw both players walk out the door July 1, getting nothing in return.
This is just me guessing, but there’s a real chance the Ducks contemplate trading Perry if he’s not signed by April 3, no matter their position in the standings. Again, no one has told me that; it's just me reading the tea leaves, especially when you consider how sour the Ducks were after losing Justin Schultz to free agency last summer.
Finally, some people are wondering about Jonas Hiller’s future in Anaheim given the emergence of Viktor Fasth. I don’t believe there’s any chance Anaheim would move Hiller this season, not with the small yet impressive body of NHL work it has gotten from Fasth. Hiller at least finishes the year in Anaheim.
All quiet on the trade front
We’re still waiting for that flurry of trade activity. It was hard to know what to expect with a 48-game season and a new collective bargaining agreement, but it’s been awfully quiet in terms of significant moves.
"Nobody wants to take any significant money back," said one Eastern Conference GM on Monday.
"The question I’m asking myself is why would I take on a player with three more years on his deal at $3 million or $4 million a year and then have that contract limit what I can do this summer?" a Western Conference GM told ESPN.com.
Don’t forget that the NHL salary cap is going to $64.3 million per team next season, down from $70.2 million this season.
I still think it’s going to be a busy April 3 trade deadline, but there could be even more activity in the offseason. Some clubs will wait until then to make their biggest moves.
Still, one team executive said Monday there’s too much pressure on some teams not to finally ante up soon.
"Doing nothing is not an option for some people if they want to keep their job," he said.
One Western Conference team executive predicted two more weeks before it heats up.
"By mid-March I bet you we’ll be humming," he said.
In the meantime, everyone is waiting to see if/when Colorado moves Ryan O’Reilly. Teams have inquired -- the likes of Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia and the Rangers, among other clubs -- but have been put off by the high asking price.
"I just think they don’t really want to move him unless it’s a home-run offer," said one Eastern Conference GM. "That’s their prerogative, really."
Another name to watch before April 3 is Jarome Iginla. We don’t know if he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for a trade, but if he is, and if the Flames are finally willing to move him, one team to keep an eye on is Pittsburgh. I believe the Penguins have interest in Iginla, who found success with Sidney Crosby on Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics. The Penguins have also had success in the past with aging wingers Bill Guerin and Gary Roberts, two players who found new life in their legs after arriving in Pittsburgh. Iginla would be a nice fit there.
Canucks crease conundrum continues
Interesting read by ESPN The Magazine colleague Craig Custance on Monday wondering if it’s Cory Schneider, not Roberto Luongo, who moves out of Vancouver.
One thing’s for sure: Because he’s younger and with an easier contract to swallow, you can bet there’s a better chance of Vancouver getting a sizable offer for Schneider before April 3 as opposed to Luongo.
But for the Canucks to even consider reversing course and moving the kid instead of the veteran, as was the plan, they would need assurances from Luongo that he no longer wants out. Remember, Luongo asked for a trade at the end of last season.
My guess? Luongo hasn’t changed his mind.
I don’t think Schneider is going anywhere.
Sour on officiating
The level of frustration from teams on the state of officiating is quite high.
Teams always complain about officiating -- that’s a yearly thing -- but I have to say that this season it’s quite pronounced. Various team executives have told ESPN.com that the inconsistency in officiating has never been this bad.
"Just wait for that GMs meeting next month, that’s going to be quite the conversation," one NHL team executive told ESPN.com on Monday.
The NHL GMs meeting is March 20 in Toronto.
Last week’s obvious no-call on an offside that led to Matt Duchene’s goal against Nashville leads the way; even Corey Perry’s second-period goal against Colorado on Sunday night probably shouldn’t have counted since he slashed Greg Zanon’s stick out of his hands en route to the net. Zanon couldn’t defend Ryan Getzlaf’s pass to Perry in the slot without a stick, and the Ducks star scored.
Then there are the two Rule 48 match penalties that were rescinded by the league earlier this season.
But is it really worse than usual? Or is it the fact it’s a short season and every point in the standings matters so much more, which makes bad calls stand out even more?
It might just be that everyone is a bit more ornery than normal because of what’s on the line every night. Either way, it should be interesting March 20.