Most of us who
grew up in the 1980s remember the funk classic “Rumors” by the Timex Social
Club. “Look at all these rumors, surrounding me everyday, I just need some
time, some time to get away…” Truer lyrics were never written, especially when
it comes to tracking down NHL trade rumors.
to see the amount of teams who are scrambling to get their most prized
possessions taken care of in an effort to both save them from becoming free
agents in the off season, and most importantly, to quell the millions of rumors
always flying this time of year. Call it their way of “getting away” from all
of the media coverage and concentrating on the game at hand. In less than a
week we can all do the same.
As I’ve reported
a few times now, March 9, 2006 is the Trading Deadline – the day the rumors end
and the moment of truth arrives. Seemed so long ago at the time I first
mentioned it, but the time has arrived. Let the scramble to the finish begin in
earnest. Which teams are buyers and which teams are sellers? Which teams are
for real and which teams are pretenders? We’re about to find out, but before we
do, it’s always fun to speculate on what may happen. We’ll revisit this next
week and see just how many of these so-called rumors actually materialize.
Before I get to
the rumors making the most sense, let’s set the record straight on a few myths
circulating through the media and internet (outside of our website that is!).
Owen Nolan is
not returning to the NHL this season. By his own admission, his knee is not
healing as fast as was originally planned, and also by his own admission, "It
would not be fair to the teams that expressed an interest in my services if I
could not give them 100 per cent of my abilities". Expect Nolan to be available
to the highest bidder starting July 1. Probable destinations are the ones being
mentioned right now – San Jose, Calgary and Philadelphia, just to name a few.
Barring a miracle, you can be sure he won’t be returning to Toronto.
Teams can start
removing defensemen Phillipe Boucher from their shopping lists. The stalwart
blueliner has been inked to a three year extension with the Dallas Stars. The
deal is reported to be worth $7.5 million, a modest raise of $1.82 million per
year on average. You will recall Boucher was one of the most sought after free
agents at the time he signed with the green shirts back in 2002. "I am very
happy to get this new contract finalized with the Stars," said Boucher. "My
family and I love the city of Dallas and we are excited to know we will be here
for three more years."
With many teams needing help
between the pipes, one name you won’t see moved is Manny Fernandez in
Minnesota. Shortly before the Wild took to the ice Friday versus Anaheim, it
was announced Fernandez had signed a multi-year contract extension. No terms
were disclosed, which still fuels slight speculation a deal could still happen,
although it is highly unlikely, especially if Dwayne Roloson is moved. With the
Wild falling further out of contention thanks to a current road trip drawing
blanks, bank on Roloson to be the odd man out before long.
"The Wild's commitment to Manny and his commitment to
the team are based upon his play this season and his performance with the Wild
ever since he started the first home game in team history on October 11, 2000,"
GM Doug Risebrough said. "We see this as a step that will continue to improve
our team and help take us to the next level." We shall see.
of goalies, did Jose Theodore dodge a
bullet by breaking his heel during the Olympics, or did he just embarrass
himself even further? If you ask me, he really has to stop taking that hair
tonic, but in his defense, it was a very icy weekend and as I can attest, it
doesn’t take much to slip on a patch of ice and injure something. Given the way
Theodore was playing prior to the injury, I’m not sure if this will turn out to
be a blessing in disguise or a future ticket out of the perennial hockey hotbed
WHAT, ME WORRY?
the teams who think they need “better goaltending” down the stretch and into the
playoffs, the Ottawa Senators are not one of them, all things considered.
Dominik Hasek was injured during his first shift of the Olympics, yet is
expected to return in time for the playoffs. John Muckler has maintained, as he
often does, he will not remove a player from his active roster (or injured
reserve) for a net gain at the deadline. Obviously, you need to always listen
to a proposition whenever and wherever it presents itself, but if Ottawa can get
their opening night roster fully intact in time for April, they have as good a
chance as anyone.
be fooled though. There are a few rumors involving Curtis Joseph of Phoenix and
Martin Biron of Buffalo, and they all point to both goaltenders having a new
postal code by 3:00 PM on Thursday. Some have suggested Muckler would be wise
to acquire one of them as an insurance policy, just in case. If it happens, it
will have to be for peanuts (ie, a Draft Pick or a minor leaguer).
is the big goaltending name thrown out for good measure. He could wind up
anywhere from Ottawa to Edmonton to Vancouver to even Anaheim, but the concern
is at his age what can he possibly accomplish when push comes to shove. He’s
never proven himself as anything more than a one or two round goaltender, the
semi-final appearance in 2002 notwithstanding. Of all the destinations
mentioned, Edmonton makes the most sense. I’ve always been of the opinion he
played his best hockey to date as an Oiler, and although it didn’t amount to
much more than a few second round appearances, it’s not like they had the team
and experience that they have now. If Edmonton doesn’t land CuJo, look for them
to go after Biron.
biggest name floating around has to no doubt be Florida’s Olli Jokinen. Having
advanced all the way to the Gold Medal game at the Olympics has to have
increased his value even more. Calgary would probably make the most sense (and
the best fit). They need to get Jarome Iginla going for the post season, and
getting an offensive weapon like Jokinen would certainly help. The Flames could
send a guy like Matthew Lombardi the other way (this has also made a few rumor
mills). Ottawa was also rumored to be in the mix of teams interested, but read
two paragraphs previous to see why he won’t end up there.
be a trade deadline without Bob Clarke making a splash. While he’s been very
quiet so far, some have suggested Keith Tkachuk’s days in St. Louis are
numbered, and Flyer Orange could be his uniform at the end of the day. Since
Keith Primeau won’t be back this season, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds. If
this doesn’t happen, expect Philadelphia to make at least one notable trade, but
Peter Forsberg to Toronto for Mats Sundin is not going to happen, so give it up
already. The Flyers are going nowhere unless Antero Nittymaki retains his
Olympic form down the stretch, with or without Tkachuk. Perhaps a stay-at-home
defenseman is in order.
goalie Jani Hurme has been sent to Anaheim with forward Joel Stepp heading the
other way to Atlanta, and Columbus sent defenseman Cale Hulse into his second
stint with Calgary for forward Cam Severson. Not exactly trades you’d write
home about, unless of course you happen to be the actual players involved. The
Flames actually get a stay-at-home defenseman and someone to add to their depth
chart with Hulse, but it isn’t as if they were weak at the position to begin
As we do
every year, we’ve heard rumors ranging from the borderline possible to
absolutely not going to happen. The real blockbusters traditionally happen
during the course of a season. Let me go on record right now and say if San
Jose manages to make the playoffs, the trade of the year is Joe Thornton leaving
Boston for some dead weight (at least in the Sharks’ opinion). If nothing else,
it should add some stability to a team which had higher expectations when the
Mendes of Sportsnet brought up an interesting
point recently. Since 1980, there has only been one major deadline trade which
was considered to have been instrumental in helping a team win a Stanley Cup.
In 1991, Ulf Samuelsson and Ron Francis were traded to Pittsburgh in a six
player blockbuster with the Hartford Whalers, and as it turned out, it was the
final piece of the puzzle for the Penguins. Yet, to win, you need good luck and
great goaltending, and you can’t (usually) acquire both at the trading
deadline. With that being said, you really have to wonder why there’s so much
stock placed on the trading deadline to begin with, but I will say this – it’s
one hell of a fun day.
bow out for yet another edition, let me remind you all of my new daily blog, and
many thanks for the positive comments from those who take the time to do so.
Congratulations are also in order to Pat LaFontaine who finally had his number
16 retired in Buffalo the other night.