NHL Trade Rumors, Brad Richards, Chris Phillips and Tuesday's NHL Buzz
It's becoming unusual when a day goes by before the NHL trade deadline and there isn't at least one trade to report.
Yes, the last few days before the February 28 deadline have been filled with furious activity, more so than in years past. The latest trade in the books was the Dallas-Pittsburgh swap yesterday that started out as talks and quickly evolved into a deal involving talented young players on both sides.
The flurry of activity seems to have slowed down now to just plain old rumors. However, the amount of trades we've seen the past couple of days might change the temporary landscape in the NHL and in the media. We've already learned via Twitter that a big trade goes down whenever ESPN's Pierre LeBrun is on a flight.
Heck, at this point, the TSN Trade Deadline Special in Canada might not focus on who's available, but rather who's left.
But there's still plenty of rumors out there, from what the Stars will do with Brad Richards, to the Blues clinging to Ty Conklin. Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner continue to be the hot names out of Edmonton, while John-Michael Liles could now be the next guy on the way out in Colorado.
If you want to know about those players and more, this is the place to be for all the latest news about the NHL Trade Deadline and the latest rumors. Because if it wasn't for the trade deadline, we might be talking about Molson Canadian becoming the league's flagship beer.
So, read on for the latest updates.
Terry Pegula Joins The Ownership Ranks
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The long-rumored news became official today, as Terry Pegula was officially named as the new owner of the Buffalo Sabres in a press conference today. And already the new owner is talking big.
"I wanna run the team to win the Stanley Cup, so whatever that involves, I guess we gotta figure that out," Pegula told the media today, according to WIVB in Buffalo. "If I want to make some money, I'll go drill a gas well. I don't need to make it in the hockey business."
Already, he seems like the type of owner who will pump money into the franchise, the type of owner who cares about the team. The type of owner the fans of Buffalo love.
Tim Connolly, C, Buffalo
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Tim Connolly has always been one of those players you wonder what he could be if he stayed healthy for more than the blink of an eye.
He's not a goal scorer, but he's a decent playmaker who would be a nice fit on a good team who needs a second-line center. Apparently that must be the feeling around the league, because some teams are interested in acquiring him.
The Buffalo News reported that the Capitals, Kings and Penguins have all shown interest in acquiring the center from Buffalo. All three teams have holes up front and down the middle that Connolly would address.
The bigger question would be is Connolly worth the investment?
He's a nice player, not a great player. And there's that injury history that would scare a lot of teams off. But in the NHL universe around the trade deadline, marginal players become coveted players when word leaks that they're available.
I find it hard to believe that Connolly garnering the most attention out of Buffalo in terms of possible trade assets. But at the same time, listening to an interview with new owner Terry Pegula, he seems dedicated to make the Sabres a better franchise. That includes making trades that he said will help the team in the future.
If that means a Tim Connolly trade will help the team in the future, then so be it. If the Sabres can get a good package for it, they should bite.
Chris Phillips, D, Ottawa
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The "will he or won't he" question continues to swirl around Chris Phillips and the Ottawa Senators as the trading deadline draws near.
It's no longer a question of what the Senators will do, but rather what the Senators want to do. For all the talk about the Senators possibly trading Phillips, they're now meeting with him about a contract extension.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun (who's been all over the Chris Phillips watch) reported the two sides have talked about an extension, possibly for three years. But he stressed that if they can't get something done, he could be in play.
It's not a question about whether or not Phillips wants to stay, because he's publicly stated that he wants to stay. Rather, it's a question about whether the Senators really do want to go through with this rebuild.
My guess is they don't know themselves.
Trading Phillips, one of the few pieces left from the Eastern Conference Championship team and those talented Senators teams who could never get by Toronto would do that. It opens the door to trading Jason Spezza and even Daniel Alfredsson.
If the Senators really wanted to keep Phillips they'd find a way, just like if they really wanted to trade him they'd find a way. They won't make a decision about Phillips until they're completely sure what they want to do.
And my guess is they'll take the next week figuring that out.
Brad Richards, C, Dallas
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Brad Richards is becoming the NHL's Carmelo Anthony.
Now before you start arguing, he hasn't congratulated himself for handling the constant trade rumors surrounding him well, and he's not exactly one for speaking out and not saying anything at the same time.
But as the Stars struggled, the rumors started again.
And they haven't stopped.
E.J. Hradek of ESPN wrote on Twitter today that while he thought the Stars would keep Richards all season, he now thinks the Stars will trade him.
And in reality, that's really the best thing now.
The Stars are still very much alive in the playoff race in the West, not only just to make the Playoffs but for the division as well. But this team isn't built to win this year, they're building for down the road. As competitive as they are, the Stars just aren't deep enough to be a player right now, although they are dealing with injuries right now.
Of course, Richards is dealing with his own injury concerns right now as well that's kept him out of the lineup, which is a big reason why the Stars have struggled recently. It's just exposed the Stars as a young team trying to build for the future.
Richards can bring in a big haul in terms of prospects and other assets, especially considering the ownership situation in Dallas. It won't pay off this season, but trading Richards is the right thing to do for the health of the franchise.
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The Montreal Canadiens are struggling right now, to say the least.
After getting whipped in the Heritage Classic Sunday night, the Canadiens have lost three in a row and the only reason why they're still in sixth place right now is because the Rangers have been worse the last few weeks. Now tonight they get to go into Vancouver, not exactly the best place to break a losing streak.
So it should be a given that the Canadiens are looking to make some sort of move before next week. It could very well be another defenseman, now that Jaroslav Spacek is now out for the season. The real need is for a forward who can score, specifically on the left wing.
David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period listed off a bunch of names the Canadiens could be interested in, including Dustin Penner and Kristian Huselius. Both of those names would make a lot of sense as a winger who brings a lot of offensive punch.
The fact of the matter is, the Canadiens have to do something. The offense is not going to get the Habs anywhere as it is and Carey Price might be starting to wear down a little bit.
More importantly, the Canadiens made a lot of strides in making the Eastern Conference Finals last season. If they want it to be the start of something big instead of just a fluke, eventually the Canadiens will have to make a move. And now is as good a time as any.
Marian Gaborik, RW, New York Rangers
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Marian Gaborik's always been injury-prone, but this might be the first year he's been injury-prone and ineffective to boot.
Now he'll miss even more time after being diagnosed with a concussion, according to Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record and he'll be out indefinitely.
ESPN speculated on what this might do to the Rangers in terms of trade targets over the next week, citing Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak as possible replacements.
But make no bones about it, the Rangers will target a forward now.
That's because that's what the Rangers often do, they see a problem and tend to fix it from outside as quickly as possible.
Alex Frolov (who wasn't exactly tearing it up before) gets a season-ending injury? Wojtek Wolski is in New York underperforming not too long after.
Eric Lindros, Scott Gomez, Pavel Bure, the list of players the organization has brought in to try and fix its problems stands on its own, and not in a good way.
To see the organization make a commitment towards its young talent had to be somewhat refreshing for a fan base growing tired of the front office trying to solve problems the same way the Knicks do. Now they're in a tough position, not bad enough to be sellers but overachieving by holding on to a playoff spot; it's so easy to stay true to the plan but so tantalizing to fall back into old habits.
Of course we all know how this will end.
The Rangers will trade for a forward and either miss the Playoffs anyway or be knocked out in the first round. Then the summer will come and ownership will plop down a large check to Brad Richards just to be in this same scenario next season.
Ty Conklin, G, St. Louis
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So the affirmation that Blues' backup goaltender and journeyman Ty Conklin isn't available at the trade deadline, according to ESPN, isn't exactly earth-shattering.
It probably wouldn't even make waves if it wasn't for the fact that star goaltended Jaroslav Halak is out right now with a bruised hand and won't play against Colorado tonight, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
But in the case of St. Louis, the stand makes a lot more sense than you would think.
Conklin's not a starter and he won't blow anyone away. But he's also become a valuable backup who's been proven to be an asset in this league.
He's not a great starter when he's been pushed into action, but he's good enough that he can hold the fort for a while and keep his team competitive. He's proved that before in Pittsburgh and Detroit.
So it makes perfect sense that in a league where goaltending is such a commodity, trading away a solid backup like Ty Conklin isn't smart. The best way to put it is this: if something happens to Jaroslav Halak down the stretch and Conklin isn't there, the job falls to Ben Bishop.
If you don't know who that is, don't worry. The point is that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Blues fans.
Conklin is a solid insurance policy and unless some team blows them away with an offer (which won't happen), then the Blues will hold on to him.
It would be a much bigger decision than you think.
Alexei Kovalev, RW, Ottawa
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We keep hearing conflicting reports about Alexei Kovalev and his future. We've heard about how the Ottawa Senators will be hard-pressed to find any takers for him, yet there are other reports that teams could possibly make a play on him.
And the name that keeps coming up is Pittsburgh.
Another report by the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette came out, stating the Penguins aren't done in the trade market and are serious about Kovalev.
I've written about this a few times in the last couple of weeks, especially about this scenario. From the Penguins perspective, it's not an awful trade. It's not going to cost much in return other than a low draft pick at the least, he's an upgrade in talent compared to the AHLers on the roster now and he was very good for the Penguins before.
But there's always the baggage that comes with Kovalev, especially with how it usually ends with him and a team. He's quit and caused problems for teams before, and it can end badly for Pittsburgh just like it's ended badly for a couple of other teams.
Then you watch him play, and you see what he's capable of. He's not that player anymore just because of his age, but he can still show flashes of that ability that's always had general managers and scouts drooling.
In a way, he's always been the Milton Bradley of hockey, save for the temper. It's never ended well wherever he's been, but he always gets another chance because of his talent. If he does get traded, it's starting to look like it's going to be in Pittsburgh.
Don't be surprised if it ends badly there, too.
John-Michael Liles, D, Colorado
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Back in November, trading John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche would've sent shockwaves throughout the league. He was one of the hottest puck-moving defensemen on one of the league's hottest teams.
But now its February, the Avalanche are in a free-fall and the organization is apparently in clearance mode, which means most everything must go. That includes Liles, who despite his recent struggles, unappealing plus-minus and equally unappealing cap hit, is getting a lot of interest around the league. Numerous reports are stating the Maple Leafs have zeroed in on Liles, including Darren Dreger of TSN who wrote Liles is at the top of their list.
Nothing is imminent yet, but the Maple Leafs obviously like Liles, who they see as a replacement for Tomas Kaberle.
My question is, they were so hot to get rid of Kaberle last week, what sense does it make to give up assets to pretty much get the same player with some of the same deficiencies and a pretty expensive cap hit to boot?
I mean, Liles and Kaberle are pretty similar players. While Liles has had a solid season offensively and the Maple Leafs need that type of player trading two of their top six defensemen away, it just screams "lateral move" in my book.
We'll have to see how things play out in the next week or so, but there's definitely interest there on the Maple Leafs' part.
No sense, but interest.