Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Latest on Craig Rivet, Chris Phillips, Phil Kessel, Paul Stastny ...
By Pierre LeBrun
The Buffalo Sabres waived their captain Craig Rivet Wednesday and hope he finds a new NHL home out of it.
"It really came down to the likelihood of him getting into our lineup [he's been scratched a lot this season], and hopefully giving him an opportunity to play [elsewhere]," Sabres GM Darcy Regier told ESPN.com Wednesday. "We'll know more at noon tomorrow and we'll go from there."
No team contacted Regier and asked him to waive Rivet. The Sabres GM discussed this move with Rivet's agent Pat Morris on Tuesday morning. Rivet, 36, is earning $3.5 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Fans from the Blackhawks and Canucks were especially asking me Wednesday whether their teams would be interested in Rivet. The answer is no. But hopefully Rivet finds a home somewhere. He's a quality person.
The Sabres, meanwhile, continue to examine ways to improve their team before next Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. But it's clear they're not in the market for a rental player [players who are UFA July 1].
"Where we are, we have to take a longer-view of both trying to make playoffs and helping ourselves for next season at a minimum," Regier said.
In other words, any player the Sabres acquire between now and next Monday will be signed at least through next season.
"That's the goal," Regier said.
- In Ottawa, Sens GM Bryan Murray and the agent for Chris Phillips, J.P. Barry, chatted Wednesday about the blueliner's future. Phillips is an UFA July 1 and has a no-movement clause. Will he stay or will he go? Phillips is either going to sign an extension and stay, or there won't be an extension and he'll be traded. "Discussions are ongoing," Barry told ESPN.com. "I'm sure Bryan is trying to get a handle on what certain players are worth on the trade market, including Chris Phillips. In our case, he has to compare that value to the benefit of keeping Chris via an extension going forward. Nothing has been decided yet, and we will continue our talks as he gets a gauge on the market."
- In Toronto, while the Maple Leafs continued their search for a defenseman, cyberspace was filled with talk from Leaf fans that somehow Phil Kessel was being shopped. I should know better but given how many Toronto fans kept asking me about it Wednesday, I went straight to the top and asked Leafs GM Brian Burke via e-mail whether he was shopping his star winger.
"No. He has not, and will not, be shopped," Burke told ESPN.com via e-mail.
- My colleague Scott Burnside tweeted Wednesday that it's possible the Atlanta Thrashers claim Nikolay Zherdev off waivers Thursday. In no way was Burnside saying it was a definite, simply that the Thrashers were considering it. Zherdev, who simply never fit in with the high-flying Flyers, is earning $2 million this season and will be an UFA July 1.
Once the Flyers shed Zherdev's salary off their salary cap, expect them to search the market for a depth defenseman.
- The fallout from Peter Stastny's scathing comments regarding Colorado's trade of Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis continued to buzz around the league. Matt Keator is Paul Stastny's agent and also knows Peter Stastny well.
"Peter is a passionate guy," Keator told ESPN.com Wednesday. "He really enjoyed watching his son play with Chris Stewart because they had great chemistry and synergy together. I think he was just frustrated that Paul lost his linemate."
Keator didn't think the father's outburst would be an issue for Paul.
"No, he's a low-key guy, he's very well-like by his teammates," Keator said. "This won't be an inflammatory issue."
It just so happens that Paul's name has surfaced in trade rumors this week and some rumors also had the player asking for a trade out of Colorado. Not true, said Keator.
"Absolutely not true," said Keator. "Paul loves it in Denver and loves playing there. He doesn't want to leave."
- Tomas Vokoun wasn't slated to be in net for Florida on Wednesday night, backup Scott Clemmensen getting the start instead. That raised eyebrows that maybe Vokoun was close to being traded. But Panthers GM Dale Tallon, via e-mail, told ESPN.com that Clemmensen starting was a "hockey decision."