NHL Trade Rumors: Ales Hemsky, Eric Brewer and the Latest NHL Buzz
We're closing in on one of the most exciting days of the year for a hockey fan: trade deadline day.
Feb. 28 and the trade deadline are not that long away now, and already some of the bigger names involved in trade rumors have been moved in the last couple of weeks.
Mike Fisher was moved out of Ottawa—apparently sparked by that hockey mastermind and overlord Carrie Underwood—and Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg have been traded by the Maple Leafs.
Those moves could all be precursors to bigger trades.
Meanwhile, the normal suspects are expected to be players again at the deadline as teams try to find out whether they're buyers or sellers at the deadline.
It's all building up to be a very interesting deadline, even though only a few weeks ago the market seemed dead and most media members were predicting a somewhat quiet deadline.
It can still end up playing out that way, as a lot can happen in the time between now and the trade deadline. I mean, who would've thought the Flames could be buyers a couple of weeks ago?
But the hot stove has been fired up, and it's only expected to get hotter as the actual date gets closer.
So until then, this is the place for the latest NHL trade news and rumors as we start to close in on the home stretch of the NHL season.
New York Rangers
It's hard to predict what we'll see from the New York Rangers down the stretch. This is the same team that beat Vancouver and Dallas but couldn't beat Florida at home and just broke a six-game losing streak.
Most of the problems are from the lack of offense and a desperate need for a power-play quarterback. Larry Brooks of the New York Post suggested the Rangers will look at Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, but won't balk at the price tags each one will demand, the same with a top-line center.
A power-play quarterback needs to be the top priority for the Rangers, since it's something they haven't had since Brian Leetch. They've tried different pieces there, but no one's really been able to fit, and no one on the roster has the skill set to fill it. Marc Staal is a shooter, not a quarterback. Matt Gilroy has a great shot but he's not accurate enough and/or doesn't shoot enough. Michael Del Zotto's a mess and the rest of the defensemen aren't as offensively inclined.
I've heard Joni Pitkanen named as a possible piece, and that's the type of player the Rangers need on the back end. Whether those type of players will be available is tough to say right now, but the power play can't keep going the way it is. Every Ranger fan out there will want to pull each of their hairs out individually.
Of course, knowing Glen Sather's track record, any kind of trade could be dangerous, too.
Tomas Kaberle, D, Toronto
So with Brian Burke shipping Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg out of town (and bringing in Aaron Voros from some odd reason), the focus is back on Tomas Kaberle.
The Maple Leafs and Kaberle (namely Brian Burke and Kaberle) have done this trade dance for a while now. And apparently, the music has started up again for these two. The latest news is that Kaberle has granted permission for Toronto to only speak to the Bruins about a trade, according to sportsnet.ca. Pretty much, it's the Kaberle camp saying it's either a trade to Boston or no trade at all. TSN's Bob McKenzie added that Kaberle hasn't waived his no-trade clause, but he'd like a trade to Boston.
Somewhere in his perch high above Air Canada Centre, Burke can't like this. He already sent two first-rounds picks to Boston in return for a forward who hasn't scored in ages. Now Kaberle is telling him and Leafs management he can only be traded to a division rival who doesn't have too much in terms of tradeable assets.
It wasn't how it's supposed to be for Burke. In his mind, they should be turning the corner by now. But the same problems he's inherited are still there. The acquisitions he's made haven't paid off, the team still struggles to score goals and there's no idea of who the goalie of the future is. The fans are hopeful James Reimer will be the goalie, but the other problems still remain.
For all parties involved, Burke needs to just deal Kaberle and finally start building, just so everyone can move on.
Cory Stillman, LW, Florida
Like they were a couple of years ago, the Panthers aren't completely out of the race in the East, but they'd need a lot to happen to get in. So once again, they're in the unenviable position of deciding whether they're buyers or sellers.
The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that a few Panthers could be available, including winger Cory Stillman. He's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so it would make sense for the Panthers to try to move him. He's a veteran winger with offensive upside and playoff experience, so he'd be a valuable asset for someone looking to acquire that.
Of course, the problem will be what Florida would try to get for him. Right now, teams aren't willing to give up young prospects or young talent. The Panthers can definitely get draft picks for him, and if Nashville is willing to give up a first-rounder for Mike Fisher, the Panthers can get a pretty good pick for Stillman, too.
Florida could go a bunch of different directions with their UFAs including Tomas Vokoun, so it will be somewhat of a wait-and-see approach during the next couple of weeks. But if the Panthers start to fall out of it, Stillman will be one of the hot names that can be on the move on Feb. 28.
Ales Hemsky, RW, Edmonton
The Oilers are on the way towards another lottery pick in this year's draft. The ending to this season won't be as bad as last season when the team was decimated and ready for the season to end.
So once again the question surrounding the Oilers will be who, if anyone, will be dealt at the trade deadline. And this season the questions are circling around Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. Hemsky and Penner have been named in trade rumors for weeks but nothing is imminent nor have any concrete rumors circulated.
But the temptation is definitely there for the Oilers. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal tweeted the Oilers could get a first-round pick for Hemsky considering the Senators got a first-rounder for Mike Fisher. There's definitely interest in Hemsky, as the Los Angeles Kings have been looking for a winger for a while. Montreal could use the offensive boost as well. Calgary was named by The Globe and Mail, but I highly doubt the Oilers would trade him in the division to their bitter rivals.
Perhaps the most interesting landing spot for Hemsky could be the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out long-term, the Penguins need offensive help and the AHL brigade won't keep the Pens above water for long. Ray Shero knows the Penguins need a forward and the cap space has now opened up for a move.
Hemsky will be moved, it's just a matter of when rather than if.
Alex Kovalev, RW, Ottawa
If you follow the Pittsburgh Penguins, you know they've been going through forwards like cell phone minutes, either by injury or by suspension. They could use anyone who can play on the top two lines and score a goal right now.
Would that mean Alex Kovalev?
Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raised the question a few days ago about whether or not the Penguins would be interested in him. He'd definitely be an upgrade over what the Penguins are throwing out there now, at least in terms of talent. The Penguins already know what they're getting in Kovalev, a talented winger who can light up the rink.
When he feels like it.
He's obviously checked out in Ottawa, and the Senators would love to unload him for anything right now. He hasn't been part of the solution this year and he won't be down the line, either. In fact, he's already done his "I'm getting blamed for everything" speech so the partnership bridge has been officially burned.
Of course, the wrench in all of this is what the Senators would want back and what the Penguins would be willing to offer a rental player. Like I said, the Senators would love to get anything for him to get him out of town.
This is an interesting one to watch.
Mike Felger of CSNNE.com wrote a scathing article about the Bruins, saying they're not Stanley Cup contenders after being spanked by the Red Wings twice over the weekend.
There's definitely some truth to that, as the Bruins are not a contender as they stand right now, especially with that defense. Reporters close to the team are quick to point out the team needs a puck-moving defenseman, as Joe Haggerty pointed out on WEEI Radio this morning.
The two names that continue to circulate are Zach Bogosian from Atlanta and Tomas Kaberle. Bogosian is definitely younger and has the higher upside, but what will the Bruins have to give up for him. The same can be said of Kaberle, although the Bruins will be able to absorb his cap hit for the rest of the season with Marc Savard now out for the year. There was apparently a rumor that Kaberle was traded to Boston for David Krejci, but Haggerty quickly denied that.
Boston has a major trump card in the 2011 first-round pick they acquired from Toronto in the Kessel trade, and they could use that to lure a needed piece to Boston.
But the experts are right in that Boston won't contend as they are right now. But if they can get that puck-moving defenseman...
The Calgary Flames are offensively challenged.
Of course, if you watched the 9-1 drubbing of the Avalanche in Denver, I'd understand if you were inclined to disagree with me. Then again the Iceland team from D2 could probably drop a half dozen on the Avs right now.
Don't let the last couple of weeks fool you: The Flames can still use some help when it comes to the top six. Curtis Glencross has to cool off soon, Rene Bourque is too inconsistent this season, and when it comes down to it, Olli Jokinen is still Olli Jokinen.
So what will the Flames do? David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail in Canada has mentioned Ales Hemsky as a possible target, but as I mentioned earlier, I'd highly doubt the Oilers would send one of the most attractive trade chips they have to their bitter rivals in the division, especially since the Flames don't have much to offer in terms of prospects.
Someone like an Alex Kovalev or a Claude MacArthur seems more realistic, since they could be had for a relatively low price, or at least Kovalev could be. Michael Ryder would've been an option a couple of weeks ago but the Bruins look like they're holding on to him now. Cory Stillman in Florida looks like a fit as well, especially since he's played in Calgary before.
But it just speaks to how crazy this season has been that the Flames are now considered buyers a couple of weeks after they were calling for Jarome Iginla to be shipped off.
Eric Brewer, D, St. Louis
Eric Brewer is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the Blues are in that gray muck in the Western Conference. Out of the playoffs right now but very much within striking distance and too close to be either a buyer or a seller definitively.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch brought up the option of the Blues being sellers at the trade deadline, and it's an interesting point. If the Blues are trying to build towards the future, then Brewer's not part of that future.
But what will the market be for him?
Brewer's market will probably be defined by the market for Ottawa's Chris Phillips, in that he'll be one of the more sought-after defensemen on the trade market if he becomes available. Of course, while Phillips is a physical solid defenseman, which is basically Brewer's role. But Brewer also plays the power play and has offensive upside, which makes him more marketable than Phillips but he's not the puck-moving quarterback Tomas Kaberle is.
What will happen with Brewer is that the Blues will have to play it down to the wire. If they're close enough to striking distance near the 28th that they have a real chance of making it, then I can see them keeping Brewer and trying to make a run at it.
If they fall any further out, however, it will be time to part with Brewer and see what the Blues can get for him.
Kevin Bieksa, D, Vancouver
It was all a well-known "fact" that by this point of the season, if Sami Salo was back on the Canucks blueline at all this season, then Kevin Bieksa wouldn't be.
So now, here we are. Sami Salo is finally back from the floorball that claimed his achilles tendon. Yet Bieksa is still here, wearing his No. 3 sweater.
How can this be? Well for one the curse that apparently claims Vancouver defensemen is out in full force again this season. But secondly, Bieksa's played really well. When pretty much the heart of the defensive corps have missed at least some time this season, Bieksa's health has been a welcome respite.
So now the end of the season is coming and apparently the Canucks are considering bringing him back, according to the Vancouver Province. Of course, the salary cap will have a big impact on whether that happens or not. But you have to think the Canucks have loved what they've seen from Bieksa so far. This is a team that's been decimated by injuries to the back end once again and still are the best team in hockey.
Of course, it's also nice to keep Bieksa around for depth considering that Sami Salo is still Sami Salo, and the guy's one shift away from the next debilitating freak injury.
The Flyers may have gotten the steal of the trade season so far when they turned two draft picks into Toronto's Kris Versteeg. The move was beneficial to both sides, as the Flyers got the winger they coveted and the Maple Leafs have a first round pick in the upcoming draft.
But this doesn't sound like the end of the dealing with the Flyers. At least according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, who wrote he expects the Flyers to now make a deal involving either Daniel Carcillo or Jody Shelley.
I can see the Flyers doing that, especially if a defenseman is involved. But just making a move to clear some cap space is an option too.
Really at this point, the Flyers have a lot of options, which is something they're not used to having. Normally at this time every year, the Flyers are desperately trying to make a big move to land a winger, defensemen or almost always a goalie. But that hasn't been the case this year.
Instead the Flyers were able to pick and choose the players that they wanted, which has been something they haven't had the luxury of doing in a while.