|ESPN.com: Cross Checks||[Print without images]|
Editor's note: There's the March 3 trade deadline, and then there's the Olympic roster freeze that runs from Feb. 12-28. Between now and Feb. 12, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun will look at 10 potential trade baits and which teams have a chance to land some much-needed help.
Scott Burnside: Greetings, Pierre. We've been talking the past couple of days about offensive players who could be on the move before the March 3 trade deadline, but how about a couple of backstoppers who could be looking for new homes? Let's call them the Two Martys: Martin Biron and Marty Turco. Biron is the third man on Long Island now that Rick DiPietro is back in the mix with Dwayne Roloson.
Turco has been splitting time with Alex Auld in Dallas, but he doesn't really seem to fit into the Stars' long-term plans. Both goalies will become unrestricted free agents this summer. Both would seem to be attractive to teams looking for some veteran depth between the pipes heading into the playoffs. What are the chances that they'll be on the move and where might they land?
Pierre LeBrun: Well, I think Biron has a greater chance of moving because his team is more urgently trying to do that, not to mention the fact that his $1.4 million salary is easier to deport than Turco's $5.4 million cap hit. I spoke with both Martys on Tuesday; both have seen better days, but are keeping a good attitude through all this. Biron had a chat with Isles GM Garth Snow on Tuesday, just wondering whether his situation would soon be solved. Let's remember, when Biron signed with the Isles last summer, it was understood all along that once DiPietro came back from injury, Biron would be moved. But it's been over a month now and still nothing.
For now, Biron will go on a short conditioning stint to the AHL so he can get some game action in. The question is, who could use Biron? Although he wouldn't say it, I know he would love to go to Montreal if and when the Canadiens moved either one of their young goalies. He has the demeanor to thrive in his home province and would be a good mentor for Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak.
Burnside: The one team I look at and wonder about needing or wanting a veteran presence is Los Angeles. The Kings are on fire and, I think, a lock to make the playoffs. But remember what happened to a good Montreal team in 2008 that entrusted its playoff goaltending chores to untested youngsters Price and Halak -- the Habs narrowly beat eighth-seed Boston and then lost in five to a less-talented Philadelphia team in large part because Price and Halak couldn't handle the pressure. You would think the Kings would want to avoid that dynamic.
Jonathan Quick has been great for Los Angeles, but he and Erik Ersberg have zero NHL playoff experience, and it would seem logical to want to have some kind of safety net. Turco was spectacular two springs ago when Dallas reached the Western Conference finals, and Biron was the Flyers' netminder in 2008 when they surprised many by reaching the East finals. Yes, Turco's dollar figure is high, but the asking price for either netminder would be very modest, don't you think?
LeBrun: Well, right now, the word out of Long Island is that Snow isn't getting offered more than a third-rounder for Biron, which seems absurd to me. But I guess it speaks to the marketplace. As for the Kings, while I agree with your premise, especially with Biron because he's a cheaper cap hit, I'm told they have lukewarm interest. That may be because they are more focused on forward Ilya Kovalchuk and adding another defenseman, so adding a veteran backup goalie is not a priority at this point.
But while Biron told me he was anxiously awaiting a trade, Turco told me Tuesday night his perfect scenario is to stay in Dallas for the rest of the season, lead his team into the playoffs, and deal with all this in the offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Given his price tag, that may very well happen. But I'm telling you, the 34-year-old veteran remains an elite goalie in my mind, someone who could really help a contender. His 40-save performance Tuesday night was a reminder of that.
Burnside: I agree Turco can still bring it, and Biron would be an easy fit into pretty much any NHL dressing room because of his personality, so I'll be shocked if someone doesn't make a move to bring him on board. Wonder if San Jose would want some inexpensive insurance down the stretch? The Sharks haven't received the greatest playoff netminding from Evgeni Nabokov in recent years and must advance beyond the first round this spring. Nabokov plays pretty much every night and will be at the Olympics, so maybe adding a veteran netminder wouldn't be a bad idea.
The same issues exist for Buffalo workhorse Ryan Miller. With all due respect to Sabres backup Patrick Lalime (3-2-2 and 3.11 goals-against average), Biron would provide better results if the Sabres are interested in giving Miller some rest down the stretch, not to mention a more viable backup come playoff time. Biron was also well-liked in Buffalo during his tenure there. I understand it's not a priority for teams with solid starters. It will be difficult to add Turco because of his contract, but Biron should be able to find a home somewhere before March 3, don't you think?
LeBrun: Well, the Sharks really love Thomas Greiss, and he is the starting goalie for Germany at the Olympics, so I'm not sure they're pressing for an upgrade there. Buffalo definitely needs an upgrade on Lalime; but again, if the Sabres can afford only one add-on before March 3, I would suspect it would be up front and not a backup goalie. Interesting note on Turco: His no-trade clause disappeared this season (the last season of his contract). That's why he's a little unsettled right now while trying to focus on the job at hand.
Another factor to underline in all this is the financial mess the Stars are in as owner Tom Hicks tries to fight off the banks. Things are really tight in Dallas. Even if Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk wanted to extend Turco (and I don't think he does), there's no way the cash-strapped team could do it. So Turco likely will be on a different NHL team next season. Which could tie in to the other Marty. We know the Stars have been sniffing around younger goalies like Halak, Kari Lehtonen and Cory Schneider, but what if they brought in the veteran Biron to help out the new kid next season? Auld is also an unrestricted free agent in Dallas. Food for thought.
• You can also get up-to-the-minute discussion in Rumor Central.