Cross Checks: Nikolay Zherdev
"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."
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils: It goes without saying this hasn’t been a banner season for the greatest goaltender of all time or the New Jersey Devils, but the Martin Brodeur we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks is certainly more familiar to fans. Brodeur was at it again Thursday night, as he collected his 114th career shutout and his fourth win in his past five starts in a 2-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brodeur turned aside all 23 shots and was especially heroic in the third period, when the Devils were outshot 10-3. The Devils are 4-0-1 over this recent span and playing their best hockey of what has been a lost season.
Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings: As usual, Detroit has found a way to win despite its injury-depleted roster. Helm has seen his opportunities increase and has taken full advantage. The Winnipeg native has 11 points in his past 11 games, including the overtime winner Thursday night against St. Louis, and has four multi-point games over that period. The Red Wings continue to hang around the top of the Western Conference standings despite of missing key personnel (Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Cleary, Brad Stuart and Chris Osgood).
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning: After being held scoreless in the Lightning’s 3-2 shootout win versus Atlanta on Thursday, Lecavalier has managed just one goal in his past 11 outings. Lecavalier has eight goals on the season and is on pace for his worst goal production since his rookie season in 1998-99. Lecavalier did miss some time earlier this season with a hand injury, but his struggles highlight the burden being carried by Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The Lightning continue to hold down top spot in the Southeast Division, but it’s hard to imagine a long playoff run without Lecavalier contributing at a more significant level.
Nikolay Zherdev, Philadelphia Flyers: As the NHL ploughs into the second half of the regular season, you have to figure the Zherdev experiment is pretty much a flop. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you’re as good as the Flyers are? The gifted Russian has scored just once in his past nine games and saw his ice time diminish during Thursday’s 6-2 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators (he ended up playing some on the fourth line). Ostensibly signed to replace veteran Simon Gagne, who is enduring his own struggles in Tampa, Zherdev has 14 goals; but his streaky play makes it difficult to imagine him having much of an impact come playoff time.