Monday, March 3, 2014
Rumblings: Stars, Wings mulling deals?
By Pierre LeBrun
You know I'm intrigued by bubble teams at this time of year -- it's my favorite thing to write about.
The Dallas Stars are another team on the bubble, hanging on to a playoff spot by the slimmest of margins.
But it's not posing any issues for Stars general manager Jim Nill. He's got a clear plan, regardless.
He's open to hockey deals, yes, but he's not going to trade for any pending UFAs.
"Correct, we're not going to be in the rental market," Nill told ESPN.com Monday. "But if there's a hockey deal that makes sense, we'll look at it."
He's got pending UFAs of his own, such as veteran winger Ray Whitney and center Vernon Fiddler.
Given where the team is right now, the sense is he trades those types of players only if the deal makes sense. He wouldn't do it for the sake of gaining a limited asset in return.
"We're open for business, I'm always looking at things, but I'm not rushing to do something just to move a body to get a pick," Nill said.
Veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas, out since late November with that horrific leg injury, could be on the mend and is an interesting trade target for a contender, something TSN colleague Darren Dreger brought up Sunday on air.
My sense is Nill likely will get a read off Robidas, both in terms of his health -- there's a thought he could return within two or three weeks -- and what his wishes are in terms of staying put or moving on. I think there's so much respect for what Robidas has done in Dallas that the GM would take the player's lead there.
But that's just my read on it.
Meanwhile, Nill is excited by his team, which has picked it up in the second half to try to get into the playoff race.
"We've had a lot of guys take a step in their game," Nill said. "You saw Jamie Benn in the Olympics, Tyler Seguin has become a big part of this team, Erik Cole has taken charge, Jordie Benn on the back end, Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski are playing well, so guys have bought into it. A lot of credit goes to the coaching staff, they've done a good job. There's some real excitement in our room."
Blackhawks standing pat?
Things can always change with one phone call, but the feeling I get is that despite the St. Louis Blues' big blockbuster trade on Friday, the rival Chicago Blackhawks will stick with their group as is.
The Blackhawks picked up Peter Regin before the Olympic break and Kris Versteeg earlier in the season, and unless something falls in their lap -- which is still possible before Wednesday -- word on the street is that the defending champs like their team and don't feel compelled to act.
I don't blame them. What's not to like?
Wings chasing Ehrhoff?
The Red Wings are believed to be among the teams interested in defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, whom the Sabres are shopping. He's got seven more years on his deal after this season, at a $4 million cap hit. What's better, though, is that $22 million of that 10-year, $40 million deal will have been paid off by the end of this season because it was front-loaded.
I don't think the Wings would overpay to get him, but he would fill a need for a top-four, offensively minded defenseman.
Waiting for Phillips
Still no word as of Monday afternoon on Chris Phillips and a decision after being offered a one-year contract extension by the Senators.
It's believed Phillips wanted a two-year extension.
If he doesn't sign, Ottawa could trade him before Wednesday's deadline.
As reported last week, the Boston Bruins have interest in Phillips but it's not clear whether Ottawa would be willing to deal him to a divisional rival.
The Bruins also are interested in Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald, among others. MacDonald is a solid, two-way guy who's a pending UFA, and it's clear the Isles are going to move him.