Cross Checks: Ryane Clowe

For those criticizing the Toronto Maple Leafs for the money and term handed out to David Clarkson, know this: The UFA power forward left money on the table with another club.

And I suspect that team was Edmonton, where Clarkson visited Thursday. Word is the Oilers were convinced heading into Friday they had the former New Jersey Devils winger.

But despite offering what I believe was a stronger financial package, the Oilers lost out, Clarkson feeling the pull of the heartstrings and signing with his hometown Maple Leafs.

No surprise at all. Clarkson-to-Toronto was the rumor for a full year. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello never had a chance to keep him.

Will the Leafs regret giving Clarkson seven years in length? I’d bet on the yes side. But it was the price of business on this day to get one of the top-ranked UFAs on the market.

Power forwards have never been more sought after in the game, the blend of offensive skill and physical strength and ability to play with top-six players a needed ingredient to win. Just ask Boston (Milan Lucic) and Chicago (Bryan Bickell).

Overall, a mighty good 24 hours for Leafs GM Dave Nonis. He didn’t blink when Tyler Bozak wanted around $5 million a year, waited for the UFA center to try the market and circle back. Nonis got him for $4.2 million a year, a job well done. The Leafs GM left himself hanging a bit for 24 hours with the buyout of Mikhail Grabovski, leaving himself without two of last year’s centers in Grabovski and Bozak with no assurance they would be able to strike on Friday in free agency.

Nonis’ read of the situation was bang on. Clarkson wanted to come home. Bozak circled back to where he knows where his bread is buttered, playing alongside Phil Kessel. And when you add the previous offseason additions of goalie Jonathan Bernier -- whom I believe will be a star No. 1 goalie -- and center Dave Bolland, a better defensive fit (albeit with less offensive skill) than Grabovski, I like where the Leafs are headed.



Elsewhere:

• The Red Wings will challenge the Bruins for the division title in their new Eastern digs next year, which is why it’s no small achievement that Daniel Alfredsson chose Detroit over Boston. Overall, what a day for the Wings in finding a No. 2 center in Stephen Weiss plus the luxury of adding a veteran presence in Alfredsson. It allows Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to play on the same line. And it gives Detroit a more productive second line that it had this past year. The Wings are back, baby.

• Valtteri Filppula will be a nice fit in Tampa, where GM Steve Yzerman knows him well from his Detroit days. Filppula is a smart player whose struggles this past year I believe were an anomaly. The St. Louis Blues were in hard on both Filppula and Weiss and struck out on both, and to me there’s still a hole to fill there in middle for the top-six forward group in St. Louis after the retirement of Andy McDonald. (I prefer Patrik Berglund as a No. 3.)

• The Devils lost Clarkson a year after losing Zach Parise, so the impactful exits are piling up. GM Lou Lamoriello tried to plug a hole by bringing in Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder on Friday, a pair of Newfoundland buddies. Clowe is a gamer, a heart-and-soul player who will help fill Clarkson’s exact power forward role, but the term on Clowe’s deal -- five years -- stunned many team execs we talked to around the league, who cited Clowe’s injury-ravaged body the last two years. I say good for Clowe, who has sacrificed his body for years and now finally got his financial bonanza ($4.85 million per year). Montreal had interest in Clowe but it was clear by Thursday that they were out because the Habs wanted to do only a one-year deal with him.

• Once Alfredsson knew he was leaving Ottawa to chase a Stanley Cup, the decision between joining Boston or Detroit was a very difficult one, a source said. Alfredsson had both clubs very much on the same level before pushing himself to decide. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli laid it all out for Alfredsson when the two spoke on the phone Thursday, detailing what the Swedish winger’s role would be on the Cup contenders. And the conversation was comfortable, Chiarelli knowing Alfredsson so well from his days in the Ottawa front office. But in the end, the style of play in Detroit and the chance to play with fellow Swedish national team buddies Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall won him over, as did an impressive phone call with Wings coach Mike Babcock, who described perfectly how Alfredsson would fit into the picture.

• The Los Angeles Kings are incredibly disappointed they lost Rob Scuderi. The gritty, dependable blueliner -- for my money, the top defenseman available -- signed in familiar territory when he agreed to join Pittsburgh on a four-year, $13.5 million deal. I’m told Philadelphia and Toronto were aggressively trying to sign Scuderi as well but the Penguins, with whom Scuderi won his first Cup, won out. Pretty good offseason for Pens GM Ray Shero, who re-signed Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams plus brought back Scuderi, a player he admits he should have never let go after the 2009 Cup triumph.

And with that, I wish everyone a terrific summer. This is my last blog before returning in late August for the Canadian Olympic camp. Starting with the lockout in the fall and a crazy, compacted season, the break can’t come fast enough.

Cheers, all.


We often describe the first day of free agency as a frenzy.

Guess what?

Friday, they finally got the frenzy part right.

From the moment the marketplace officially opened at noon ET, there was a non-stop acquisition of horseflesh from virtually every corner of the NHL map.

And in the wake of a five-year deal for Valtteri Filppula worth $25 million in Tampa and the five-year deal Stephen Weiss signed in Detroit for essentially the same amount and the $36.75 million the Toronto Maple Leafs committed to David Clarkson over the next seven years -- and a total of 63 deals worth a record $411.9 million -- remind us again why we had a lockout?

If that doesn’t confound your puzzler, well, more than a few things did on this most active of free-agency days.

Herein a look around the league at the events that made sense, made little sense and made no sense after the dust had cleared.

Ottawa Senators
The Senators said goodbye to their venerable captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. But within a couple of hours, GM Bryan Murray had landed an elite top-six forward in Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. Ryan will be a great fit on and off the ice in this Canadian market. It cost Murray big-time in the form of Jakob Silfverberg, a first-round draft pick, and former first-round pick Stefan Noesen. But the Sens, who also signed Clarke MacArthur to a two-year deal, are well-armed for a playoff battle in what looks now to be the toughest division in the newly realigned NHL.

Detroit Red Wings
It was a curious day for the Wings as they signed an aging Alfredsson to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million, evoking memories of the disastrous turn in Detroit by an aging Mike Modano, and then signed Weiss to a big five-year deal at $4.9 million a season, even though Weiss has toiled in relative obscurity in Florida his entire career. He’s played in just seven playoff games, all in 2012. The Wings also failed to immediately re-sign veteran Daniel Cleary or bring back impressive first-year player Damien Brunner or center Valtteri Filppula, who signed in Tampa. In other words, a few steps in a circle.

Tampa Bay Lightning
And since we’re on a Red Wings kick, let’s look at the Filppula signing. Five years at $5 million a year is a lot for a guy who had 17 points in 41 games this season (he did register 66 points in 2011-12). As a second-line center in Tampa who will ostensibly replace Vincent Lecavalier, is Filppula up to the task, or were those 66 points a mirage and will he settle back to his career norm of 40 or less? Let’s put it this way, for GM Steve Yzerman’s sake, Filppula better be on the ascending arc of his career or this is going to look pretty ugly in the wake of the Lecavalier buyout.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Still don’t quite get why Nathan Horton was in such a hurry to get out of Boston but guess all those trips to the finals must have been annoying somehow. Horton signed a whopper seven-year deal worth $37.1 million with the Blue Jackets, who are trying to build off last season’s dramatic if ultimately unsuccessful run to a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Still, is Horton really ready to be the guy in Columbus after being able to exist in the shadows for the most part in Boston? Streaky doesn’t really describe Horton’s history offensively and that won’t cut it for a team that has made the playoffs just once in its existence and has never won a postseason game.

Nashville Predators
Good bounce-back day for GM David Poile after just missing out on Daniel Briere as he added versatile veteran center Matt Cullen and hardworking Matt Hendricks along with Viktor Stalberg to bolster the Preds’ anemic offense. The Preds will, seemingly, always be about success by committee and these three additions should make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Cullen shortly after he signed his two-year deal worth $7 million told us it was difficult to leave his home state of Minnesota, but that the Preds’ hardworking style was attractive to him. Although injuries slowed Cullen at the end of this season, he can do it all, including taking important draws, working the power play and killing penalties.

Phoenix Coyotes
How rich is this? Two days after nearly having to relocate, with new ownership assured for at least the next five years, the Phoenix Coyotes were major players, snagging the top-producing free-agent forward, center Mike Ribeiro. The skilled Ribeiro signed a four-year deal worth $22 million and will rejoin head coach Dave Tippett, for whom he played in Dallas. The Coyotes have long been lacking depth down the middle. No more. Phoenix also signed Thomas Greiss to back up Mike Smith.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Just when you think GM Ray Shero is all out of cards up his sleeve, he pulled out "The Piece" -- or rather repatriated "The Piece," defenseman Rob Scuderi, who was a key part of the Pens’ runs to the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup finals. Scuderi, who also won a Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, signed a four-year deal with the Pens for a total of $13.5 million and will help solidify the blue line of a team that once again looks Stanley Cup-ready with Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis all re-signing deals in recent days.

Carolina Hurricanes
On a day when lots of bigger names were signing a lot bigger contracts, we liked the additions in Carolina of defenseman Mike Komisarek, who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs and who has a ton to prove as he tries to get his NHL edge back. And then there was the signing of backup netminder Anton Khudobin, formerly of the Boston Bruins. Lots of folks believe Khudobin, the former ECHL goaltender of the year, has NHL starter stuff. Pending Cam Ward’s durability, Khudobin might be among the steals of the free-agent market.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Few players were pursued as vigorously as former New Jersey Devil winger David Clarkson. Edmonton, Ottawa and Boston were among the teams interested in the rugged winger with the scorer’s touch. But the Toronto native ended up coming home and signing a whopper seven-year deal with the Leafs worth $36.75 million. With the addition of Jonathan Bernier and Dave Bolland, the Leafs look to have better depth than a year ago (they also re-signed Tyler Bozak to a five-year deal on Friday worth $21 million). They are still thin down the middle but Clarkson will give Randy Carlyle the tools to ice three potentially potent scoring lines, which will be crucial to the Leafs' efforts to return to the playoffs for a second straight year.

New Jersey Devils
Speaking of the Devils, their big signing of the day, Ryane Clowe for five years for a total of $24.25 million, seemed to illustrate the difficulty the franchise continues to have in attracting top-end talent. Clowe, like Clarkson, is a rugged forward with a nose for the puck, but he is also coming off a series of concussions, so his durability -- especially given his brand of game -- has to be suspect. Bottom line is the Devils needed someone to help fill the void created by Clarkson’s departure, and they had to overpay a player with health issues to get that done. Not sure how that strategy sustains itself long-term. The Devils did add another proven scorer in Michael Ryder, who signed a two-year deal worth $7 million late Friday afternoon, joining fellow Newfoundlander Clowe in New Jersey. This is a lateral move, the Devils being Ryder’s third team in the past four years having gone from Boston, with whom he won a Cup in 2011, to Dallas and now to New Jersey.

Philadelphia Flyers
It didn’t turn out to be much of a surprise when the Flyers signed Ray Emery to a one-year deal worth $1.65 million. Emery wanted a chance to earn back a starting job and the Flyers represented one of the few teams with that kind of dynamic. The fact Emery had played for the Flyers was a bonus. But the big question is whether Emery, who was so good as Corey Crawford’s backup with the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks -- going 17-1 with a .922 save percentage during the regular season, has the durability to become a starter again. Emery will split time with Steve Mason, and given Mason’s up-and-down career, there’s no reason to think Emery can’t be the man, as long as his body goes along with the plan. And, oh yeah, the Flyers remain over the salary cap so GM Paul Holmgren still has a little work left.

New York Islanders
Weird day for goaltenders. With Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas still looking for a place to land late Friday, the Isles re-upped netminder Evgeni Nabokov for one year at $3.25 million. Apparently no one in the Islander front office bothered to look at tape of the Isles' first-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps GM Garth Snow has a Plan B that will reveal itself at some point, but right now the Isles do not possess enough goaltending to get in the top four of their division despite adding character forwards Cal Clutterbuck at the draft and signing Pierre-Marc Bouchard on Friday.

Edmonton Oilers
Loved the Oilers' addition of veteran defenseman Andrew Ference to a four-year deal worth $13 million. If it’s one thing the Oilers need, it’s some maturity on the blue line. Ference won a Cup with Boston in 2011 and was part of the Bruins’ run to the finals this spring, logging more than 24 minutes a night in the postseason. Not sure about Boyd Gordon signing at $3 million a year for three years, but someone had to take on the departed Shawn Horcoff’s role (the former Edmonton captain was dealt to Dallas). Jason LaBarbera was inked to a one-year deal to come in to back up Devan Dubnyk, which is fine if you believe Dubnyk is the guy to lead this team out of the wilderness, but right now the Oilers look to have no better than the sixth-best goaltending in their new division.

Boston Bruins
You can’t beat the irony of this one. The Bruins were spurned by Jarome Iginla at the trade deadline when Iginla waived his no-trade clause and joined the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then the Bruins waxed the former Calgary captain and the Penguins in four games in the Eastern Conference finals, allowing just two goals in four games and leaving Iginla without a point in the series. Of course, Friday afternoon Iginla signed a one-year deal worth a $6 million cap hit (the final compensation is dependent upon bonuses) with the Bruins because, well, why not? The Bruins, shut out of the Alfredsson talks, among others, as they tried to plug the holes that have opened up on the right side of their lineup, are actually a nice fit for Iginla. As was the case at the trade deadline. And would it surprise anyone if the rugged winger lights it up after having a difficult time with the Penguins especially against the Bruins? Of course not.

Minnesota Wild
Interesting afternoon for GM Chuck Fletcher, who unloaded salary in Devin Setoguchi, essentially giving the winger away to the Winnipeg Jets for a second-round pick, and then picking up rugged winger Matt Cooke, signing him to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million. Setoguchi has one year left on his deal worth a $3 million cap hit. He started slowly with the Wild this season but playing with Matt Cullen ended up with 13 goals and 27 points but Setoguchi was never the perfect fit in Minnesota and so he joins a Jets team that continues to collect other teams’ castoffs. Cooke, a part of the Penguins’ Cup-winning team in 2009, will ostensibly replace Cal Clutterbuck, who was dealt to the New York Islanders at the draft. Cooke is well-known to Fletcher and to head coach Mike Yeo, both of whom were with the Penguins during that Cup run.


In the end, Daniel Briere followed his heart.

There were competitive offers from the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils, but the allure of finally playing for the Montreal Canadiens could not be passed up by the French-Canadian veteran forward.

In summer 2007, Briere spurned the Habs for Philadelphia, and the fans at the Bell Centre routinely booed him during his games in Montreal.

All is forgotten now.

The key for Habs GM Marc Bergevin, who turned his attention aggressively toward Briere about two days ago, was the term. One of the reasons Bergevin lost out on Vincent Lecavalier and won’t be able to get unrestricted free agent Ryane Clowe is that he doesn’t want to get locked into long-term, UFA deals.

At two years and $8 million, the term is perfect for Bergevin, who believes he has some young, promising talent in the system that isn’t quite ready yet. Players such as Briere can help bridge the gap.

Speaking of Clowe, the Habs were willing to do a short-term deal with him, but it’s believed the UFA power forward wants to get a bit more security and who can blame him. Keep an eye on the Devils; I believe they are the front-runners for Clowe.

The Devils need a replacement for power forward David Clarkson, who has drawn a ton of interest as the headliner in this year’s UFA crop, including from Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.

Elsewhere:

• Ray Emery is likely leaving Chicago, where he loved it, to procure a job that will give him a bigger role. He’s not going to get that behind Corey Crawford with the Blackhawks. Philadelphia and Edmonton are among the teams that have reached out, and I think the Flyers are the odds-on favorite to get him, with Emery and the Flyers comfortable with each other after their time spent together before. If the Flyers do get him, Emery will compete for starts with Steve Mason.

• Daniel Alfredsson has three real choices in front of him: stay in Ottawa, join Boston or join Detroit. Multiple teams reached out to him, but the Bruins and Red Wings are really the only options if he were to leave the Senators. The Swedish connections run deep with Detroit (Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg). Alfredsson spoke directly to both the Bruins' and Red Wings’ front office Thursday to gain more information. I still believe he likely stays in Ottawa, but it’s interesting to see how much Alfredsson is deliberating on all this.

• The Predators lost out on Briere -- and not just him. A source told ESPN.com that Nashville had also spoken to Boston about Tyler Seguin before the Bruins shipped him to Dallas in a blockbuster deal Thursday. Nashville needs to find offense somewhere.
Danny BriereLen Redkoles/NHLI/Getty ImagesDanny Briere could be getting a call today from his new employer.
Is this the day for Danny B?

Sources have told ESPN.com that bought-out unrestricted free agent Danny Briere cut his list of suitors to three teams late Wednesday night, which I believe to be New Jersey, Montreal and Nashville.

All three have compelling selling points for the veteran forward. The Canadiens provide an obvious allure for a French-Canadian such as Briere. If he does sign with the Habs, it would turn those boos at the Bell Centre into cheers after he spurned Montreal’s offer years ago for Philadelphia’s and Habs fans never forgave him.

Nashville is a terrific place to live. I’m stunned more free agents don’t go there. It would be top five on my list of places for a player to ply his trade. Fantastic town, solid organization and, oh yeah, the Preds desperately need offense.

The Devils also need offense, and New Jersey would offer the one thing Montreal and Nashville could not: proximity to Briere’s children, who will remain in Philadelphia.

And so we shall see. Whichever team gets him acquires a clutch performer, especially come playoff time. And he’s a great teammate.



Elsewhere:

• My money is on UFA center Tyler Bozak staying in Toronto, but until the Maple Leafs meet that magic number, other teams have called, including Dallas, Detroit, Anaheim, St. Louis and Calgary. Bozak, who found great chemistry with Phil Kessel last season, is looking for a five-year deal or more. In the Red Wings’ case, I think Bozak is more of a Plan B if they can’t get UFA center Stephen Weiss. I think the Stars are very interested in Bozak, and Weiss for that matter.

• Don’t expect a final decision from UFA blueliner Rob Scuderi until Friday. Sources say Scuderi got a real nice offer from the Kings on Tuesday night, but the veteran player wanted to see what was out there on the market with the 48-hour window for talking to other teams opening Wednesday. He has done that, hearing from several East Coast teams. Basically, if Scuderi does leave the Kings, he’s going to the East. It would not surprise me if Pittsburgh was among the teams that called about Scuderi. The Pens know him well from his previous playing days in Pittsburgh.

• The Wings have kicked tires all over the place, I hear, getting a sense of the marketplace. They’ve checked in on Weiss and Bozak plus Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Daniel Alfredsson et al, all the while keeping tabs on their own free agents Dan Cleary, Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula. It could go all kinds of different ways in Detroit on Friday when the market opens.

• UFA power forward Ryane Clowe's preference is to stay on the East Coast, and I think he’s zeroed in on some options; the Devils are among several teams with serious interest. Expect him to sign Friday, the first day of the market opening.

• Bought-out UFA Mike Komisarek is going to be a bargain-basement addition and is generating sizable attention because of that cheap price tag.

• TSN colleague Darren Dreger is hearing there is action on Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery. The Flyers, Isles and Oilers are believed to be chasing. The Hawks are also in discussions to re-sign Emery, Dreger is hearing.

Clowe, Staal status unclear

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
1:44
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Both injured defensemen Marc Staal (eye) and Ryane Clowe (believed to be a concussion) skated Monday morning during the Rangers' optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

It remains unclear whether either -- or both -- players will return to action in Game 3 against the Capitals. Rangers coach John Tortorella said he will not address injury or lineup questions during the post-season.

Staal did not speak with the media after the skate, making it difficult to gauge his availability for Monday, but there is an interesting point to consider. Assuming he is close, which he is believed to be, wouldn't it make the most sense for him to get back in at home?

Given the home team's ability to make the last change, the Rangers' would be better able to manage matchups. Plus the team could ease him back into play in comfortable surroundings. Staal's knowledge of the ice, the dimensions, the lighting and weird little nuances of MSG would diminish the adjustments necessary to accommodate any lingering limitations of his right eye.

Staal, who has been skating with the team for weeks, has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck during a game against the Flyers March 5.

Clowe did speak to the media Monday morning, but said he was not yet sure if he will be available Monday.

"I feel pretty good out there," Clowe said. "Obviously you guys [the media] want to know if I'm going to play tonight, [but] I'm still not sure about that."

It's clear that the 30-year-old veteran, who has 68 games of playoff experience as a former long-time San Jose Shark, is itching to get back. But the Rangers are likely exercising caution with what is believed to be a head injury that has shelved him since the team's playoff-clinching win in Carolina in the penultimate game of the season.

"Like anyone else at this time of year, no one's ever 100 percent, but when I come back I'll definitely I'll feel capable of everything I can bring and my style of play -- obviously, a physical style -- so that's what I'm looking at here.
WASHINGTON -- Rangers forward Ryane Clowe skated with the team Friday for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury (believed to be a concussion) in the Rangers' playoff-clinching win in Carolina last Thursday.

Clowe said he felt "pretty good" and added that he may even be available to return to the lineup for Game 2 against the Capitals on Saturday.

"I'm not gonna rule out tomorrow," Clowe said after the Rangers' brief skate on Friday at the Verizon Center. "Tough to watch this time of year. Playoffs -- it's the time of year and the hockey I look forward to the most. So, it was hard to watch last night. But, I'll discuss it with the trainers and the proper people today and let them know how it felt. So we'll see."

Clowe sounded like the conditioning factor is not his biggest concern, given the anticipated adrenaline jolt the playoffs provide.

"I feel like that this time of year I can jump in every time, just because I've played a lot of hockey up to this point," Clowe said. I just feel like you can run on [adrenaline]. It's kind of like my first game in New York. I didn't really have any sleep but you run on adrenaline to get back into it. So, I don't think conditioning is that big of a factor."

Coach John Tortorella also confirmed that a player healthy enough to play will be in the lineup at this time of year, regardless of conditioning level.

"Because if we don't win, we're done," he said. "So I don't give a d*** about conditioning."

Clowe's return could lend a big boost to the Rangers offense. The rugged 30-year-old winger brings size and grit to the lineup, and he also adds experience. In his eight-plus seasons with the Sharks, Clowe had 18 goals and 45 points in 68 playoff games.

"It's good to see. I think everybody skated today. We have a lot of players out there and [you] hope for the best, that everybody's healthy," said fellow playoff veteran Brad Richards. "A lot of decisions to be made and everybody's chomping at the bit. I'm not a trainer or a doctor. I don't know exactly where everybody is, but it's good to have everybody out there."

In addition to Clowe, injured forward Derek Dorsett also appears to be nearing a return. For the first time Friday, Dorsett skated in a regular jersey -- he previously donned a non-contact jersey -- which presumably means he was cleared for contact.

Brian Boyle and defenseman Marc Staal also practiced with the team, although it isn't clear when any of the four players will return. Tortorella said Thursday that he will not discuss any injuries or lineup questions during the playoffs.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Forced from last night's playoff-clinching 4-3 OT win over the Hurricanes with an undisclosed injury, Rangers forward Ryane Clowe is not practicing with the team Friday.

The team hasn't given any indication about the nature or severity of Clowe's injury, but the 30-year-old winger had to be helped off the ice by two teammates -- obviously, not a good sign.

The fact that the Rangers recalled Kris Newbury from the AHL is also a clear indication that the team expects to be without the coveted trade-deadline acquisition for some time.

Ryan Callahan is not skating, either. According to the team, the Rangers captain is taking a "maintenance day." Callahan, who tallied the game-winner 2:55 into overtime, blocked a shot with his left hand last night and appeared to suffer some discomfort, though he remained in the game.

Arron Asham, whose wife gave birth Thursday night, is also not practicing.

Derek Dorsett is skating with the team, albeit in a non-contact jersey.

Deadline eve saw three more big names change teams, further diluting a trade pool that already had seen plenty of players find new homes over the past two weeks.

Anyone ever hear of deadline day? You know, when you’re supposed to make your trades?

Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jarome Iginla and Jordan Leopold moved last week. Robyn Regehr, Jay Bouwmeester and Michal Handzus switched teams Monday. And then Tuesday brought more action as Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Ryane Clowe switched addresses among the bigger names on the market while depth blue-liners such as Davis Drewiske and Marc-Andre Bergeron also moved.

Last season, only two trades were completed in the 48 hours before deadline day. This year? Make it 10!

So what’s left there, guys?

Well, there’s the whole goalie thing in Toronto.

[+] EnlargeJaromir Jagr
Dustin Bradford/Icon SMIJaromir Jagr was one of the latest big-name players to get traded before deadline day.
I’m told the Maple Leafs had more dialogue with the Calgary Flames on Tuesday about Miikka Kiprusoff, but at the same time, the Leafs and Vancouver Canucks also conversed Tuesday regarding good ol’ Roberto Luongo, a source told ESPN.com.

For the Canucks, the dynamics have changed. They don’t need a center anymore after getting Roy from Dallas. So the Canucks can live with a winger, for example, in a Toronto deal if the Leafs wanted to make a move on Luongo.

No question the Canucks are well aware of Toronto’s interest in Kiprusoff and understand they need to make it clear over the next day just what they’d be willing to do, once and for all, on the Luongo front with Toronto.

So more than likely, that will be the big story Wednesday before the 3 p.m. ET deadline if the Leafs decide the fit is right on either Kipper or Bobby Lu. Or neither.

There certainly has already been much to digest:

• Jagr to Boston. The Bruins actually phoned Dallas about 3-4 weeks ago to check on Jagr’s availability and at the time didn’t think he was going anywhere. At the time, the Stars were actually thinking they would sign Jagr. But over the past week, things changed. The Stars kept losing games and after much internal debate and deliberation including right up to Monday night, the front office decided it was time to unload. They would move Jagr and Roy, their pending UFAs, after already having done so with Morrow.

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk met with Jagr on Tuesday morning and while he didn’t have to, because the veteran winger doesn’t have a no-trade clause, out of respect for the future Hall of Famer, he felt him out on a possible deal to Boston after telling him they had decided not to re-sign him. The answer from Jagr was yes.

No doubt, the Stars will get criticized for pulling the plug when they can still make the playoffs, but I credit them. It’s the third year in a row that the team is straddling the playoff demarcation line, and the two previous years they tried to give the team the best possible chance to make the playoffs but didn't get returns on assets. They missed the playoffs both times, and got nothing in return for anyone.

Now they’ve picked up some solid young assets in the trades for Morrow, Jagr and Roy and the team will be better off for it in a few years.

• For the Bruins? They finally get the impact, rental winger they were looking for in Jagr. And frankly, this might actually be a better fit than Iginla, the player they thought they traded for last week. Jagr has more offensive creativity and will have a bigger impact on Boston’s power play than Iginla would have in my humble opinion.

• Clowe ends up with the Rangers and going East all along I believe was important to the Newfoundland native. The Sharks presented him with trade options to either New York or Vancouver -- the Canucks pushed real hard in their efforts to get Clowe -- but ultimately a move East mattered most. I think Clowe felt the Rangers presented a better fit. And it would not surprise me if he ended up re-signing there in the offseason.

Credit here to Clowe’s agent Kent Hughes and Sharks GM Doug Wilson in the way in which they handled this. Wilson gave Hughes the green light to talk to teams over the past week to feel out options. They worked together hand in hand because of Clowe’s no-trade clause, and it proves that sometimes you can make it a smooth operation if everyone involved is on the same page.

• The Canucks struck out on Clowe but got the part that really mattered to them: a center. Roy can play in either the No. 2 or 3 hole when Ryan Kesler returns. Henrik Sedin, Kesler and Roy down the middle is not too shabby at all. And Kesler has played wing at times in the past, and that’s another possibility. I still think the Canucks will try to pick up another winger between now and Wednesday’s deadline, but they’re already a better team for sure with Roy on board.

• In an small move, the Montreal Canadiens added Drewiske, the depth defenseman they had been looking for. A Western Conference team executive called Drewiske “a top character guy, a good penalty-killer, decent hockey sense and a big body.”

Sometimes the lesser deals are the ones you end up talking about a few months or years later. I’m not saying Drewiske will ever be a star; he won’t. But I think he can a be a solid third-pairing player for Montreal, and the Habs only paid a fifth-round pick for him.
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang weigh the pros and cons of the deal that brings Ryane Clowe to the New York Rangers.

BURNSIDE: Katie, with all due respect to the newest New York Ranger, Ryane Clowe, has there ever been more attention paid at the trade deadline to a guy who has scored zero goals in a season? On a day that saw Jaromir Jagr become a Boston Bruin and Derek Roy become a Vancouver Canuck, it was still Clowe who seemed to trump all the others with his late-day trade from San Jose to the Rangers. Relatively speaking, the Rangers didn’t give up much -- a second-round pick, a third-round pick and a conditional second-round pick if he signs an extension with the Rangers or if the Rangers win two playoff rounds -- and yet they fended off interest from a host of other teams to nab the rugged Newfoundlander. What gives? Are we making too much of Clowe-mania or is he exactly what the struggling Rangers need to get back on the Stanley Cup arc many believed they would be on when the lockout ended?

STRANG: Given the names of those who have already moved in the days before the deadline, it does seem a bit bizarre that the Clowe sweepstakes has been among the most captivating storylines. But, there is a reason that multiple teams were clamoring for the 30-year-old winger. Granted, Clowe has yet to score a goal this season -- and with the Rangers ranking dead-last in the league with 2.26 goals per game, this trade, on its face, seems even more surprising -- but he is known as the type of player with intangibles that teams covet this time of year. He adds that sandpaper and snarl element to the game and will provide the Rangers with much-needed grit. The Blueshirts gave up a lot to land Rick Nash in a trade last summer, including Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, and lost a few more of their versatile, physical forwards in the offseason when Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko signed elsewhere as free agents. Those were the type of glue guys who allowed the Rangers to establish and sustain the relentless, hard-nosed mentality that gave them success. This season that has been a glaring deficiency, and let's be honest, their results have reflected that.

BURNSIDE: During the lockout, I got a chance to talk with Clowe when he was working out and helping coach the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL. He had moved back out to San Jose to work out before the start of training camp and then stayed because he loved it there so much. Do you think the transition from Western Conference to Eastern Conference and, more importantly, relatively low-key San Jose to the bright lights, big-city dynamics of Manhattan will be an issue for Clowe? You see the Rangers up close; for a team that has struggled so much offensively, is it possible that Clowe can be the catalyst to return to the black-and-blue style of hockey that served this team so well last season, and maybe take some of the pressure off offensive guys Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, who have struggled so mightily this season? Seems counterintuitive that Clowe could provide that kind of spark, but the whole Ranger season has been more or less counterintuitive.

STRANG: Indeed, I think many people would've questioned my sanity had I predicted back in January that, even after the addition of Nash, the Rangers would be dead last in offense and fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. But that just goes to show you that how things look on paper can be awfully misleading (take one look at the Ottawa Senators' success this season for evidence) and maybe that's a relevant lesson in this acquisition. Clowe has apparently been pretty snakebitten so far this season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him benefit from a change of scenery and turn out to be a vital player for the team in the postseason. His grittiness and versatility will make him a John Tortorella favorite, I imagine, and perhaps he becomes more than a rental for the Rangers. Though the team would have to do some maneuvering in moving salary out (hint, hint: Marian Gaborik), there will likely be an opportunity to re-sign Clowe if all goes well. I agree with you, Scotty, that Clowe cannot single-handedly change the complexion of the Rangers, but he might be a pretty shrewd complementary piece. The Rangers are still in the market for a right-handed defenseman, too, so perhaps they are not done yet.
Monday could possibly be D Day for Ryane Clowe, the pending unrestricted free agent whom the San Jose Sharks are ready to trade.

What I’m hearing is that the Clowe camp -- led by agent Kent Hughes -- has worked closely with Sharks GM Doug Wilson on this process so that both sides are on the same page in terms of the teams in the mix.

Clowe has the hammer with a no-trade clause, but it sounds like that won’t be an issue.

Among the teams that have at least inquired about Clowe are Philadelphia -- a report out of Clowe's native Newfoundland reported he would be dealt to the Flyers -- Montreal, Boston, Minnesota, Vancouver and the Rangers. Canucks GM Mike Gillis attended Saturday's Coyotes-Sharks game in San Jose. I'm hearing there’s a chance Clowe gets traded Monday.

Will Ribeiro go?


The Capitals and Mike Ribeiro's agent, Don Meehan, chatted Friday and were planning to have another conversation Monday. Washington would like to sign the center, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency July 5. But it’s not clear if that’s going to happen before Wednesday.

Habs mulling moves


Rookie Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin heads into his first trade deadline with a few decisions to make.

I’ve reported before about his interest in Clowe, although, as I said last week, the Habs won’t overpay to get him, so I would not classify Montreal as a front-runner.

If they don’t get Clowe, they remain interested in a top-six forward with grit. Montreal would also like to add a depth defenseman.

Smid off the block


The Edmonton Oilers took a name off the trade market Monday, agreeing to a $14 million, four-year contract with defenseman Ladislav Smid. He was a pending unrestricted free agent and had generated interest from other teams. But he stays put, although his new deal does not have a no-trade clause.
The San Jose Sharks responded to the trading of Douglas Murray by going out and outscoring Anaheim 9-3 in a home-and-home sweep.

It’s not clear whether those two things are connected, but the fact remains that, in the wake of a popular teammate being dealt to Pittsburgh, the Sharks have looked like world beaters this week.

Pride at play here?

Players in that dressing room are well aware that Ryane Clowe -- like Murray a pending unrestricted free agent -- might also be dealt before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

But it’s clear they’re not going to wave the white towel. And why would they? They’re sitting in a playoff spot.

"We just feel like we’re still going to make the playoffs, to be honest with you," captain Joe Thornton told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We feel like we have a real good team still. There’s no reason for us not to make the playoffs. We’re sitting in eighth right now. We think if we take care of business at home right now we’ll be in."

The Sharks opened a seven-game homestand Wednesday night with a 4-0 waxing of the Ducks, and they host Detroit on Thursday night. This homestand is crucial to the season, as the Sharks finish with six of their final 10 games on the road.

They need to bank points now in order to get in.

In the meantime, Sharks GM Doug Wilson on a media call Monday in the wake of the Murray trade talked openly about his team heading for a "reset" or "refresh" -- basically retooling on the fly.

Frankly, you can’t blame Wilson. He got excellent value for Murray by receiving a second-round pick plus a second or third, depending on Pittsburgh’s playoff success. That’s a huge haul for Murray. In a year in which it’s a sellers’ market, why not cash in on a few pieces after years and years of going for it.

Clowe or fellow pending UFA Michal Handzus could be next.

I asked the Sharks captain if he has been privy to what the GM is up to and how he feels about it all.

"I haven’t talked to Dougie. Not at all," said Thornton. "But I saw his comments. When someone gets traded, everyone looks at themselves and says, 'Am I next?' But as a team, I think we can hopefully come together with Dougie getting traded and play some better hockey."

Well, Thornton isn’t going anywhere. He has a full no-move clause, and Wilson, I don’t think, is not even thinking about that right now. He is focused on his UFAs.

But the offseason will be an interesting time as the Sharks continue to deliberate how they’re going to retool their team.

Thornton, 33, has one more year left on his deal at a $7 million cap hit. And he remains a really productive player.

But it’s fair to ask where Thornton fits in if the team is getting younger in the offseason.

"Yeah, but you’re so caught up in the moment right now. You can’t think about tomorrow," said Thornton. "We’ll wait and see. Right now I’m just focused on the next game."

The best story in San Jose this spring might be a team divesting itself of two or three pending UFAs and making a playoff run with the remaining core. That would not surprise me one bit.

Preds hit deadline quagmire


A year ago there was zero hesitation.

The Nashville Predators were a contender, and they were adding. Alexander Radulov came back from Russia, Andrei Kostitsyn and Hal Gill were brought in from Montreal, and a first-round pick was sacrificed to haul in Paul Gaustad from Buffalo.

The Preds, much like the Pittsburgh Penguins right now, were all-in.

It didn’t pan out, with a disappointing second-round exit to Phoenix and the whole Radulov curfew saga to boot, but I can’t blame GM David Poile for going for it last season. He had a very good team in a wide-open West, and after years and years of careful planning, he spent some of his piled-up assets to make his team better.

This year is different. The Predators have had an up-and-down season and going into Thursday’s game at home against Phoenix sat two points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Right on the bubble less than a week away from the trade deadline, what’s the plan?

"I’m day-to-day," said Poile with a chuckle in a conversation with ESPN.com on Wednesday. "Call me after all the games are over on the night of April 2. It’ll be a touch bit clearer."

Buy or sell? Or do nothing?

It’s tough to know for Nashville, just like this whole season has been somewhat strange for everyone.

"This 48-game schedule is not normal. Everything about it is not normal. The condensed schedule, the travel, especially for us in the West, it’s all different," said Poile. "And consequently I have to imagine the trade deadline is different. ...

"Maybe for the majority of teams, status quo might be a good position to be in come the trading deadline, based on the closeness of the races."

The Predators need a scoring forward in the worst way, sitting 24th in the league in offense.

They have been linked to pending UFA Derek Roy, who plays for a Stars team that began Thursday just one point behind Nashville in the standings. Not quite sure how that deal would work between two teams battling for a playoff spot.

Then again, the Stars already moved pending UFA Brenden Morrow, and the Sharks -- the team two points ahead of Nashville -- have moved Murray and may move Clowe.

As Poile said, it’s not a normal year.

"San Jose did what they wanted to do with Douglas Murray, and Dallas did what they felt was best with Brenden Morrow. I don’t think it means anything more or less about their belief of making the playoffs," said Poile. "I don’t think it’s a sign they’re giving up at all."

For Poile, his plan is shifting minute by minute.

"Ask me again after Thursday’s game," he said.
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.
Jamie Benn, P.K. Subban and Ryan O’Reilly remained unsigned Tuesday as the season hurled itself into warp speed, thanks to a compressed schedule.

Of the three RFAs, my gut feeling says Benn will be the first of the three to sign. But that’s not sure thing.

I just don’t think they’re that far apart.

Look no further than the obvious comparables to see which deals are influencing this negotiation:

• John Tavares, six years, $33 million ($5.5 million average)
• Evander Kane, six years, $31.5 million ($5.25 million cap hit)
• Phil Kessel, five years, $27 million ($5.4 million cap hit)

Those are good comparisons because Benn is also coming off an entry-level contract and is a key offensive force on his team, just like those three players.

First off, the Benn camp won’t do six years. So there’s that. Benn has moved though from wanting three years to now being willing do to five years.

My guess is if the Stars were willing to sign off on something just north financially of the Kessel deal, then a deal will be done.

Also keep in mind, Benn's entry-level deal didn’t have any bonus money. So you can understand his desire to get paid now.

Meanwhile, the Subban and O’Reilly fronts are still very much in stalemate.

Colorado, I believe, has offered a two-year, $7 million deal to O’Reilly, which is the same deal teammate Matt Duchene signed. But O’Reilly led the team in scoring last season and that offer won’t cut it. He remains in the KHL, where he’s making good money, tax-free, so he’s got that leverage.

In Montreal, meanwhile, status quo on the Subban situation. There has been nothing there for a while between both sides. The offensive blue-liner wants a long-term deal while the Habs want to do a two-year contract. So until that philosophical divide is overcome, this thing isn’t going anywhere.

Leverage points: the Habs power play on opening night was brutal, which helped P.K.’s case.

However, the recent two-year deals signed by offensive blue-liners, also RFAs, Michael Del Zotto and Dmitry Kulikov help GM Marc Bergevin’s case.

Bergevin insists he’s not going to trade Subban but one can’t help but wonder if this thing drags on too long if he’ll have to reconsider.

One thing is clear, Montreal’s insistence on doing a short-term deal signals that the Habs just aren’t sure about what they have in Subban just quite yet.

As Luongo Waits


Eyebrows were raised Tuesday when veteran Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole quoted Canucks GM Mike Gillis saying there’s essentially a trade that could happen with an unidentified NHL team, but it depends on that team being able to move a player first.

Gillis confirmed the same in an email to ESPN.com Tuesday.

All I know is that that team is not Toronto, which remains the most logical destination, no matter what anybody says, given Toronto’s goalie issues. The Leafs and Canucks have had on-again, off-again dialogue since last June, although there’s been a detente in talks of late as both teams wait out the other early in this season, hoping wins and losses will change the leverage in that conversation.

And what of Philadelphia? My guess is that the Flyers’ only interest in Luongo would come in the summer and that’s only if A) Luongo is still in Vancouver and B) Ilya Bryzgalov had another brutal season. If Bryzgalov hasn’t rebounded, it wouldn’t shock me to see Philly use a compliance buyout on the goalie (which doesn’t count vs. the cap) and then try to trade for Luongo. A lot of ifs there and we’re talking about months from now. So much can happen in between, not the least of which is Bryzgalov having a good season and staying in Philadelphia, and Vancouver moving Luongo elsewhere during the season.

In the meantime, Luongo has been the ultimate pro about it all, waiting patiently for this to figure itself out.

For the Canucks, they are trying to get something in return that helps further their cause as a contender right now. And Canucks management shared that sentiment with Luongo last weekend, explaining that they’re trying to get something in return for him that will help his teammates in Vancouver take another run at the Cup.

So far, the Canucks have been offered good pieces, just not the right ones.

And so the waiting continues. This is a deal that could honestly get done this week, next week, next month or next summer. Be ready for anything.

Team Canada For Sochi


I traded emails with Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman on Tuesday, wondering about when he would announce his coaching staff for the Sochi Games.

Yzerman said he would wait until the NHL commits players to Sochi 2014 before announcing his coaching staff. Makes sense, of course.

Another source told ESPN.com that the Team Canada management staff hasn’t decided yet who for sure would be part of the staff. There has been internal discussion but no final decisions made.

Certainly, reigning Olympic gold medal coach Mike Babcock remains the favorite.

But there are certainly a lot of names you can throw in the mix as you figure out who could be part of the staff.

Dave Tippett, Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Alain Vigneault, Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock and the list goes on an on, Canada has no shortage of quality coaches to choose from.

Senators Still Looking


Off to a quick 2-0 start, the Senators still feel they need more depth on the blue-line despite the solid play of rookie defensemen Patrick Wiercioch and Andre Benoit, who have dressed as the third pairing.

The broken finger to Mike Lundin and the season-ending hip surgery to Jared Cowen opened the door for the two AHL grads to make Ottawa’s roster.

But veteran GM Bryan Murray says he’ll continue to make phone calls, even if so far those calls have produced very little.

"Not much has presented itself. I’ve talked to a number of teams and I hear the same story from a number of general managers -- everybody is looking for depth on the blue-line," Murray told ESPN.com Tuesday. "I don’t know that there will be many quick deals made at this point. But that’s not to say we’re not talking. We’ll look and if we can find somebody that upgrades us, we will. We’d got Lundin coming back at some point, so we’re not in a panic, but if we can get a more experienced guy, we’re certainly going to pursue it."

Lundin is getting the pins removed from his finger later this week.

"And he needs a couple of weeks after that, I think," said Murray.

Out in Los Angeles, the Kings are also one of the many teams on the lookout for help on defense and that was even before losing Matt Greene to a long-term injury.

L.A. was among the teams that pressed hard in an effort to land Wade Redden last week but lost out to St. Louis.

If the Kings ever trade Jonathan Bernier, and there’s no guarantee they will, they’ll be getting a defenseman as part of the deal.

Escrow Protection


Two early-season contract extensions tell you that some agents are wisely weary of what next season might have in store for players in the form of escrow payments.

Each of the new extensions for Alexander Edler and Travis Zajac have compensation in the first season of the deal (2013-14), the lowest of any in the contract. This is because there’s fear escrow might be at its highest next season as the salary cap drops to $64.3 million, down from the $70.2 million teams can spend this season.

Edler’s new deal is worth an average of $5 million per season but his actual compensation next season is $3.25 million. It jumps to $6 million from 2015-16 through 2017-18 before dropping to $4.5 million in the last season.

Zajac, as I wrote last week, begins at $3.5 million next season in a deal that pays him an average of $5.75 million per season.

Smart moves by the agents in question, Kurt Overhardt (Zajac) and Mark Stowe (Edler).

Power UFAs
Two names to keep an eye on: Ryane Clowe and David Clarkson.

Both are valued power forwards in the NHL and both are slated to be UFAs July 5.

The Sharks, I hear, have had preliminary talks with Clowe. Nothing yet between Clarkson and the Devils.

Learning to be 'coach' Ryane Clowe

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
8:35
PM ET
Pat Curcio has mixed feelings on the NHL work stoppage.

On one hand, the native of the Toronto suburb of North York is a hockey fan and misses his daily dose of NHL hockey.

But as part-owner, president, general manager and head coach of the fledgling San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, he’s enjoying his squad’s newfound success; success that has coincided with the arrival of newly minted assistant coach Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks.

“I told him you’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” Curcio joked in a telephone interview with ESPN.com.

[+] EnlargeTodd McLellan, Joe Thornton, Ryane Clowe
AP Photo/Paul SakumaHelping coach the San Francisco Bulls has given Ryane Clowe (29) a new perspective on the job Sharks' coach Todd McLellan does.
With all due respect to Curcio and the rest of the Bulls, Clowe is hoping to get back to the Shark Tank in San Jose as quickly as possible. In fact, the Newfoundland native’s affection for his adopted home on the West Coast was one of the factors in his ending up with the Bulls.

Having spent the summer at home in Newfoundland, Clowe returned west in advance of training camp. When the lockout began in mid-September, there was a large group of Sharks to skate with. As the lockout dragged on, though, the number of players dwindled dramatically with many teammates heading either to Europe or other locales.

Clowe wondered what his next move would be.

Meanwhile, Curcio, who owns 20 percent of the team with his wife, was getting calls from a number of agents wondering about placing NHL clients with the ECHL squad. Among the calls was one from Clowe’s agent, Kent Hughes. Curcio was a big fan of Clowe’s rugged style and was thrilled at the idea that Clowe might join the team in some capacity.

“That’s my kind of hockey. I said, 'We’d love to have him,'” said Curcio, a longtime ECHL player.

Heading into the last season of his NHL deal, Clowe was torn between the need to stay in shape and the desire to avoid paying insurance costs and risking injury playing in non-NHL competition.

So Clowe split the difference and began working out with the Bulls, although he decided that at least initially he wouldn’t play. Soon, though, he and Curcio were talking about strategy, different systems that might work, how to improve the Bulls’ power play and the penalty kill.

“It kind of evolved into helping out a bit on the coaching side,” Clowe told ESPN.com.

Next thing you know, Clowe was in a suit on the bench with Curcio.

Initially, Clowe was an assistant without portfolio, talking to the guys on the bench, offering a little in-game direction. Then Curcio put Clowe in charge of the defense, as well as giving him a hand in organizing the power play and penalty kill.

“I told him if you have any questions, just run down the bench and ask,” Curcio said.

So far the Bulls have enjoyed success with Clowe on the bench, going 5-1.

The popular Shark’s presence with the team hasn’t hurt attendance, either, as the first-year Bulls have drawn an average of 3,500 to 4,500 fans to the venerable Cow Palace, where the Sharks actually played their first two years in the NHL.

“You can never have enough good people around you. It’s been great to be able to bounce things off Ryane,” Curcio said. “There’s just been a good working relationship. He’s so down to earth.”

Clowe turned 30 at the end of September, so he remains in the prime of an NHL career that has seen him become a consistent 20-goal producer with a gritty edge. But he’s also started to imagine what post-NHL life might be like. Initially, he imagined some sort of management position, but his experience with the Bulls has given him a unique view of the coaching world.

“I didn’t know how much I’d like it,” he said. “You’re still close to the action. It’s kind of rewarding.

“It’s been making something good of a bad situation,” he said in reference to the lockout, which is headed toward the three-month mark.

It’s an interesting line Clowe walks with the team.

Before practice, he and Curcio go over areas they feel the team needs to work on, including special-teams play -- which Clowe has been instrumental in assisting, given his experience at the NHL level.

Then when practice begins, Clowe dons a jersey -- he’s listed as No. 92 on the team’s website -- and skates with the boys. He cuts no corners, so when Curcio is putting the squad through their paces, Clowe is sweating it out with them every step of the way.

That has endeared Clowe to the players, said Curcio.

Come game time, Clowe is at the rink a lot earlier than if he was simply a player, looking at video and helping Curcio put together a game plan for that night’s opponents. But instead of banging bodies in the corners, he’s behind the bench in his suit, getting the defensive pairings on the ice at the right time.

Straddling the line between player and coach, Clowe leaves the critiquing of players to Curcio.

“I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” he said.

But he certainly has a much greater appreciation for what Sharks head coach Todd McLellan and his staff go through on a daily basis when the NHL is in business.

As a player, you tend to go home and reflect on your game, how you played, how you might get better, Clowe explained. Now as a coach, he returns home and thinks about the entire squad, 20 or 22 players, and how things might have gone better or things he as a coach might have done to get the most out of the group.

“There’s a lot to it,” he said. “Now I understand what the coaches are going through.”

As for the lockout, Clowe remains hopeful the entire season won’t be lost, although he admits if it does come to that, he won’t be entirely surprised given how things have gone in recent weeks.

“Everything’s up for grabs right now,” he said.

Ryane Clowe: Players aren't cracking

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
5:31
PM ET
Ryane Clowe has never been one to hold back his thoughts and the San Jose Sharks winger is certainly growing frustrated as the NHL lockout drags on.

But he also believes the 700-plus NHL players in a battle with owners for a new collective bargaining agreement won’t wilt.

"Players are on the same page," Clowe told ESPN.com Wednesday. "No one’s cracking. We’re informed and updated and guys have a good understanding of what’s going on. ...

"We’re hockey players," he added. "We’re not going to get pushed around."

Of particular irritation to Clowe has been the league’s proposals, which would call for the players to pay more escrow as their share of hockey-related revenue drops in any new agreement.

In Clowe's mind, the signing of a whole slew of players to contracts before the lockout was an obvious attempt by owners to get a shave back from those new deals in player escrow.

"The way I see it, if Shea Weber or Ryan Suter or Zach Parise signed those big deals in July and then arrived at training camp and said, 'We’re not playing until we get 20 percent more on our contract,' there would be an uproar," said Clowe. "The owners would say, 'No chance.’ Well, it’s the same thing. Contracts have been signed, both the owners and the players have signed these contracts. Now they’re trying to take whatever percentage off the top? It’s all about principle. It’s a handshake and an agreement. Why did all these owners rush to sign all these players before the lockout?"

This issue of wanting to earn full value of their existing contracts isn’t going away, particularly with the likes of Alex Ovechkin threatening to stay in Russia’s KHL if his NHL contract is devalued by too much escrow in the new CBA.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has clearly struck a chord here on this issue with his membership.

"Players are passionate," said Clowe. "This is our game. I know we get paid a lot of money but we worked hard to get here and we put a lot into it. We put our bodies on the line in a physical sport."

Clowe also said he found it "astonishing" the way in which owners have respected the gag order imposed by commissioner Gary Bettman during the lockout.

"I’m sure there are owners that want to be playing now and probably like our last proposal," said Clowe. "Obviously Gary has done a good job keeping the reins tight. But I can’t believe how the owners are kept on the back burner like that."

In the meantime, Clowe is skating in San Jose and bides his time. Will Europe be an option?

"I haven’t really put any serious thought into it yet," Clowe said. "I had a couple of options in Finland and Sweden and obviously there probably could have been an option in the KHL, but I didn’t pursue that. Maybe I’m just being the optimist and I think this will be over sooner rather than later. At some point, I’ll have to make a decision though. I’ll need to see how long this drags out. I’m not going to sit around all year."

Asked about Bobby Ryan's comments in which the Anaheim Ducks winger said he wouldn’t go overseas because he feels players should stay on this continent to fight the fight in labor talks, Clowe understood Ryan’s perspective but doesn’t himself have an issue with NHLers going overseas to play.

"You have to realize guys are in a different position as far as salaries and how much money they’ve banked in their careers," said Clowe. "You look at Logan Couture and Jason Demers going over, they’ve only been in the league a couple of years, they don’t want to sit around. They’re young guys that want to play. You can’t blame them for that. And you look at Joe [Thornton], his wife’s from Davos and he skates there in August, it’s a perfect setup for him. So why not? I mean, I can see where Bobby Ryan is coming from in terms of everyone needing to be on the same page, but I don’t think guys are drifting apart at all just because some of them have gone overseas.

"We’re on the same page, no question."

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