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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Rumblings: B's, Habs, Canucks like Clowe

By Pierre LeBrun

Here’s something important to keep in mind as the Ryane Clowe situation plays itself out before next Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Clowe has a full no-trade clause. The San Jose Sharks have to run this thing by him in order to get a deal done.

Which means if, for whatever reason, Clowe doesn’t believe a certain team is a good fit, he can nix it. Although, in the same vein, Sharks GM Doug Wilson did well by Douglas Murray in the move to Pittsburgh, and the sense is that Wilson and Clowe have a good line of communication on what’s transpiring.

A solid playoff performance on a top contender would augment Clowe’s UFA market value this summer, so he’s not against a trade if it makes sense for him.

Of interest is where Montreal fits into all this. Boston is tracking Clowe, among other players on its short list, as a possibility in case it strikes out on Jarome Iginla.

Clowe, though, is exactly what the Habs need, a power forward to complement the skill they have up front. But GM Marc Bergevin isn’t terribly keen, I think, about the idea of giving up prime, future assets for a rental player. He knows his team, despite its success this season, isn’t in the all-in mentality of Boston and Pittsburgh when it comes to the trade deadline. And the Canadiens don’t have the same depth of prospects in the organization as the Bruins and Penguins do.

The early price on Clowe, I’m told, is a first-round pick and another young asset. There’s zero chance the Canadiens trade a first-round pick. Bergevin wants to continue to build his base. He’s got the long-term view in mind.

So my sense is that the Canadiens keep tabs on the Clowe situation but, unless the price comes down, they’re not getting him.

The Rangers are also interested in Clowe.

One more interesting twist here on the Clowe situation: Don’t just assume he’s 100 percent headed to an Eastern Conference team. I’m told there are Western Conference teams, the Vancouver Canucks among them, that also covet Clowe.

Given that the Sharks may make the playoffs, you wouldn’t think Wilson would want Clowe in his own conference come playoff time, but I guess it all comes down to who steps up the most in trade talks.

I know this: Clowe is a warrior. Despite his struggles this season, he would be a big-time addition to any contender. The games become more of a grind in the playoffs and he's the type of guy who excels in that context.

Jokinen clears waivers

Jussi Jokinen cleared waivers Wednesday and that seemed to come as a surprise to many given the reaction on Twitter.

Certainly there are teams out there looking to add a top-nine forward, no question.

But as one NHL GM told ESPN.com Wednesday morning, he would have loved Jokinen more if he were an unrestricted free agent after the season. That extra $3 million left on his deal for next season made him hesitate, so he didn’t put in a claim for the player.

What’s at play here is that the salary cap next season goes down to $64.3 million from this season’s $70.2 million maximum. Teams will be careful and picky in the kind of dollars they add to next season’s payroll over the next week.

It’s not over on the Jokinen front though. There are teams interested in him but they want Carolina either to eat some of his salary or take a player back in return.

Meanwhile, how about Boston claiming Kaspars Daugavins off waivers from Ottawa on Wednesday? He’s the same player, of course, who had Bruins players raising their eyebrows earlier this month with a shootout move heard around the world. Now he brings his shootout skills to Beantown. Go figure.

Extension talk with Visnovsky

New York Islanders GM Garth Snow, I’m told, reached out to Lubomir Visnovsky’s camp Tuesday to see if there was any interest on the player’s part in talking extension.

It’s not clear whether it will lead to a deal, but agent Neil Sheehy’s answer was sure, let’s talk.

Visnovsky, 36, is slated for UFA status this summer, a five-year, $28 million deal expiring ($5.6 million cap hit).

If contract talks don’t produce a deal, you can bet Snow’s phone will ring April 3. As a rental, Visnovsky is the kind of puck-moving blueliner that many playoff-bound clubs covet and, in fact, other teams have already been calling on him.

Of course, the Islanders themselves aren’t out of the playoff running -- they pulled off a huge win Tuesday night in Washington -- so Snow might not have any inclination in moving Visnovsky even if he’s not signed.

Cowen on the mend?

The Ottawa Senators might make their best late-season addition from within.

Local media were stunned Wednesday when they arrived at the rink and saw Jared Cowen practicing with teammates.

The top-four blueliner originally was expected to be out for the season after undergoing hip surgery in mid-November.

Sens GM Bryan Murray, while watching Cowen skate Wednesday, told ESPN.com over the phone that there’s a possibility of a late April return, although truthfully he said it wasn’t clear at this point if/when the player could return.

Still, a welcome sight for the Senators on Wednesday; Cowen has been missed this year.

Tell you what, if the Senators can get Cowen, goalie Craig Anderson and star center Jason Spezza all back in time for the playoffs, hold on to your seats.

Hemsky, again

It wouldn’t be a trade deadline without banter about Ales Hemsky’s availability. A year ago the rumors were put to bed when Hemsky signed a two-year, $10 million extension. Now his name is surfacing, although almost it seems out of habit in media commentary as opposed to actual signs that the Oilers are shopping him.

I don’t think Edmonton is actually going out of its way to shop him, but I do think they’re taking phone calls on him and at this point, they have to be receptive to many things because the rebuild is lasting a bit longer than the ticket buyers had hoped in Edmonton.

The Oilers want to get tougher/grittier in their top-six forward group and they also need more help on defense. They’ve got lots of skill in their top-six forward group, but a little more room to skate for Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would go a long way. Acquiring a power forward, however, is easier said than done.

I suspect you’ll hear Hemsky’s name out there right up to the deadline. He’s got one more year left on his deal at $5 million and he does not have a no-trade clause, so Edmonton is free to do what it wants with him.

No guarantee he moves, though.

Meanwhile, there have been contract talks between the Ladislav Smid camp and Oilers brass. Smid is UFA after the season. He’s a dependable blueliner, but if they can’t sign him before April 3 and the Oilers remain out of a playoff spot, he could be a trade target. But the hope with the Oilers right now is to sign him and keep him.

Ribeiro's future

So what do you do if you’re the Washington Capitals?

Mike Ribeiro is a pending UFA who also happens to be leading your team in scoring.

The 33-year-old center told Washington reporters earlier this week that he’d like a long-term deal, whether that’s staying put or hitting the free-agent market.

There has been a conversation between the Caps and Ribeiro’s camp and word is veteran agent Don Meehan is slated to circle back to GM George McPhee before the end of the week.

The decision here isn’t just intriguing from the Caps’ point of view, in terms of whether they want to invest long-term in a 33-year-old Ribeiro. The player has a call to make here, too. The free-agent market isn’t terribly deep this summer and he might enter the marketplace as the top-scoring player available.

It all depends, in the end, on how far Washington is willing to go with him.