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AROUND THE BOARDS: Who's doing what?

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Jim Kelley

 
   
 
AROUND THE BOARDS: Kelley's look at the NHL
OK, try as we might to downplay the frenzy that comes every season as the trade deadline approaches (Tuesday, 3 p.m.) we know what you want: Trade rumors. We'll give you what we hear and even speculate as to what they mean, but we also add the proviso that less than a tenth of the rumored deals ever come to fruition. The more important thing here is what teams need and what they might be able to do to fill their needs. Our list is not meant to be all-inclusive or exhaustive, just a sampling of what's out there and what may come to pass. Anaheim: The Ducks are finally back in the playoffs and not much is expected once they get there, so not much is expected at the trade deadline. Could use just a tad more experience on defense. Atlanta: Surgery to repair a herniated disc in 's back has both ended this team's sparse playoff hopes and taken McEachern off the trade block. 's name has been mentioned because of his expiring contract and he's a possibility if he can bring a youthful prospect and a pick in return. Boston: Forward 's name continues to make the rounds, but it's not likely in that the need all healthy bodies and even the injured ones to hold on to a playoff spot. An extra defenseman is needed, but the don't have a lot to swap right now. Buffalo: Almost everyone is rumored to be available and the high-profile names are and , but it's more likely that the move either or . Both are experienced centers who can help other teams. Veteran defenseman might also be available if the price is a decent draft pick. Calgary: Budget issues indicate someone has to go. Don't bet on , but think names like , and perhaps defensemen or Dennis Gauthier. Goalie will be shopped, but there will be no takers. Carolina: Management is being overrun with requests and it's listening. Defenseman and are being sought and the club wants to dump goalie at any price. Bust is someone they want to dump, as is . Wesley will almost certainly move, having already agreed to waive a no-trade clause. Chicago: You can have , but no one will want him. Defenseman is most certainly available, as is and . can also be had, but he and Odelein are pretty much finished as NHLers and are likely to stay put. Columbus: Some interesting trade fodder here. , and are all unrestricted free agents at season's end and the likely can't afford them all. Whitney is most likely to go because he wants a long-term deal (a no-no for management these days) and he can bring the most in return. Dallas and St. Louis are said to be snooping about. Colorado: A big player every year, but rumor is the Avs are just looking for a little depth at center or defense. That's because they don't have a lot to worry about and they don't have a lot to give up. Conroy from Calgary could end up here, as could Gratton or Brown out of Buffalo, or maybe even Brian Smolinski from Los Angeles if the give up on a playoff berth. Dallas: Shopping for a reserve goaltender, and it may need a power forward if doesn't recover from emergency leg surgery in time for the postseason. Could use some defensive reserves. Not likely to be big-time players as roster is largely set. Detroit: Looking for at least one veteran defenseman, not a long-term acquisition. Buffalo's would be a nice fit here especially if the can't pry from Phoenix. Edmonton: The hot talk is that defenseman is available for a second-line forward. That could happen because Niinimaa can quarterback a power play and that's always valuable in the postseason. Forward goes now or over the summer because he wants $3 million next season and the can't spare it. If the Leafs move or maybe even , the will be interested. Florida: The are shopping defenseman and forward in a salary dump, and are looking for an experienced winger on the right side who can bring some grit. Other teams want . and or can be had, but it's not likely anyone wants them. Los Angeles: Fading playoff hopes will put big names back on the block. Defenseman is most sought after player, but Ziggy Palffy would draw a crowd if management decides to cut that cord (it says here they won't). Montreal: The Habs have been in a selling mode, even though there is still a chance to make the playoffs. Contending teams are looking at or , but the Habs want to move , or some payroll. Minnesota: Not much expected here. Could use a veteran forward for playoff run, but not going to be playing in the big-deal game. Nashville: Likely to stand pat. New Jersey: Could use a tad more scoring, but not likely to go for the blockbuster unless San Jose makes available and he waives a no-trade clause. Likely to score depth and some grit, which makes Phoenix's of some interest, as there will be a need for more muscle to get past Toronto or Philadelphia in the East. New York : Not likely to be in acquisition mode since playoff hopes are fading again. Could be some salary dumps, but that's difficult because so many players are overpaid in relation to the job market. If there is a late acquisition, teams want either or some other kids in return. New York : Said to have in interest in out of Buffalo. Needs more scoring off the wing, especially left wing. Said to be shopping , but most teams want . Could make a run at of Columbus. Ottawa: Actively looking for more toughness. often mentioned, but would like out of New York or a player of that ilk. Might take a flyer on Chicago's just for the postseason if there's no real cost attached. Tampa's also mentioned. Philadelphia: Looking for more scoring up front and Satan rumors are strong here. Also want more help on the blueline and are said to be interested in Zhitnik and the usual suspects. Phoenix: Said to be in a selling mode and would consider offers for , but high salary scaring everyone off. have need for centermen and size up front. Most teams want goalie but that's a player management is loathe to give up unless something extraordinary comes their way. Veteran defenseman goes only if he waives his no-trade clause and sources tell FOXSports.com that he's not all that interested in doing so unless it's to a Cup contending team. Pittsburgh: Endless salary dump continues with the most recent player said to be on the block for money reasons, but his record of poor health works against him. certainly not in an acquisition mode. San Jose: 's gone and others are on the block as cost considerations come into play. Several teams covet , a gritty two-way forward. Defenseman is said to be available and forward could go, but he has a no-trade clause that would have to be waived. St. Louis: Out-of-nowhere goalie is playing well, but there's still much talk about prying out of Phoenix or from the New York . Carolina's is considered a last resort and for backup purposes only. Tampa: Wants a defenseman to help on the power play but not willing to give up anything. Might shop which could bring some defensive help. Said to be considering Chicago's . Toronto: is the big pickup, but the other shoe is a highly regarded defenseman. Leafs have shown interest in Zhitnik and anyone the Los Angeles make available, especially . Likely won't trade with Chicago because of bad blood between management and GM Mike Smith, but could help this team and getting Thomas, a former Leaf, back would help in the locker room. Vancouver: Not expected to be a player as the team is both good and young. Could use an upgrade in backup goaltending department, but not actively looking. More likely to try and pick up some defensive help, especially of a physical nature and with a veteran presence, i.e. someone who knows how to win. Washington: Looking for a bit more grit and could make a play for Toronto's or or Calgary defenseman . Defense is the thinnest spot and it needs to be a physical presence which could mean an interest in of San Jose. Not much to move in the youth department but there are persistent rumors that veteran forward is being shopped.
Who's he?
was the big name in the big brawl between Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week. He's made a name for himself doing this kind of thing, but it's not one the NHL is happy with. "Side Show Bob," as he is referred to in some quarters of The Big , claimed he went into the Ottawa bench because someone spit on him. NHL vice president and director of hockey operations, Colin Campbell says there is no evidence to support that, a part of the reason Campbell came down relatively hard on Tucker, handing him a five-game suspension (cohort , a regular in Campbell's office, got three games for his role in the donnybrook). Tucker is one of those players who, if he's on your team, has grit, moxie, a physical presence as an agitator and a player other teams hate to play against. If he's not on your team, he's regarded as an all-about-me player, a jerk and an idiot. As per usual, the truth is somewhere in between. Tucker plays with some fire and a lot of teams like players like that, but he is also a player out of control more often than not and he has a tendency to hurt your chances of winning as much as he does anything to help in winning. That's why there are serious rumors that Tucker is on the trade block right now. The rumor is that the Leafs have gotten the message from the NHL and that Tucker is, and forever will be, a marked man in the eyes of the NHL office and most of the officials. That puts him at a disadvantage with the Leafs, who feel they are picked on by officials and are trying to find ways around that. There are also reports that players inside the room have grown weary of Tucker's act and would like to see him move on. Moving Tucker might be one way to lower the volume in Toronto in team chemistry and the way the team looks in the eyes of NHL officials.
Five things you should know
1. That abrupt assistant-coaching shift in Florida was a shot across the bow of head coach Mike Keenan. Sources tell FOXSports.com that Keenan never saw the firings coming until he was called to the front office and told of the plan. It's likely management wouldn't have gone ahead had he not signed off on it, but Keenan was sharp enough to realize that general manger Rick Dudley had the ear of owner Allan Cohen on this one and if they didn't like Keenan's hand-picked assistants, they likely didn't like the way the team was being coached altogether. He knew he had better go along or face the consequences. It's a notch on Dudley's belt that he pulled this off. It's also an indication to Keenan that if those New York rumors are true, he might well listen to them. Stay tuned. 2. Oft-injured Atlanta goaltender Damien Rhodes is now playing with Greenville in the East Coast Hockey League, about as low as you can go in pro hockey. He's still making $2.75 million, about the average total payroll for 11 of the teams in that league. He has a 2-4-1 record with a 3.70 goals-against average and a .884 save percentage, laughable numbers for a player of his ability. This comes after he washed out of the AHL with 1-4-1 record and a 4.12 gaa and .869 save percentage. 3. The NHL Players Association was shocked to lose its case about "jock taxes" being levied on players in Alberta. An arbitrator ruled against the NHLPA saying it had no basis to overturn a law. The NHLPA had challenged the law based on the fact that it alters the collective bargaining agreement and that's a legal contract. Needless to say the NHLPA is ticked, claiming that the law was written at the behest of powerful people (club owners) who would benefit from the money coming into their coffers via taxes on the players. They're not wrong, but that's the way of the real world every day. The tax should be worth some $2.5 million for Edmonton and Calgary teams. 4. That recent Carolina victory over Pittsburgh ends a 15-game road-winless streak, a nine-game winless streak and a five-game losing streak for the . Imagine signing up for season tickets for the first time ever after that run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring only to see the same team fall to last overall in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the entire league. By the way, the have a seven-game losing streak going after the blowout (4-0) loss to the 'Canes. Ugly. 5. Nashville goalie set franchise records for our adopted team last week. His win Saturday against Chicago was his 20th straight start (he's started two more since then) and his 24th victory of the year. He's now 24-20-8, after a February that saw him go 8-2-1, with a 1.71 goals against average and .934 save percentage.
Thug watch
New York Ranger pest fought the hulking of Florida recently. He didn't do all that well, but then he didn't expect to either. "Obviously, my chances of winning (the fight) were slim, but if I can hit him with a lucky one . . . ," Barnaby said. "I tried to get him spinning like I tried to get (6-foot-9 Ottawa defenseman Zdeno) Chara spinning (Feb. 17). It worked against Chara. I tried it against Worrell and it didn't work. "I think he thoroughly enjoyed (fighting me)." No comment from Worrell, who later went out of the game with a concussion after being hit in the head by Ranger defenseman 's stick.
In the next 48 hours
  • Look for to suit up for the first time with the Toronto Saturday night in Toronto. It's a homecoming of sorts for Nolan, who grew up just south of the city.
  • F.Y.I.
    New York GM Glen Sather doesn't just call out his players since he became coach. This week he called out Calgary GM Craig Button: "I wouldn't know, because it takes the guy two weeks to call me back," Sather said in response to a question about possible deals with Calgary heading to the trade deadline. "That's disrespectful. How do you do your job as a manager like that? How do you wait two weeks to call someone back? It's just bad manners." Button refused comment on the remarks.
    More F.Y.I.
    Sources in Chicago tell FOXSports.com that winger had an altercation with assistant coach Denis Savard that nearly came to blows during a practice session last month. The incident took place during the time that Fleury was a healthy scratch. It's said that he refused to do some exercises ordered by Savard to keep him game ready for when he did get back into the lineup. Some swearing was involved and cooler heads had to intervene before fisticuffs ensued. That pretty much clinches it for Fleury in Chicago. Fleury hasn't scored in 13 games and counting and he won't be back no matter what. His career could well be over in the NHL. The 'Hawks will finger him for the playoff miss, the breakdown of the team and pretty much everything but the fire in Mrs. O'Leary's barn. He'll be bought out of the second year of his contract.
    One final thought
    There will be great interest in the NHL heading into Tuesday's trade deadline, the stretch drive and the playoffs. It's a time of the season that we love, but that said, we would be remiss in not pointing out that more and more teams seem unable to compete, not just for the top spots and the Stanley Cup, but even for the eighth and final playoff spots. The have simply given up the ghost, having become just a shell of a team that once competed on a level with Detroit and Colorado in terms of a roster peopled with star players. Buffalo, a team on a budget but able to take Dallas to six games in the Stanley Cup finals in 1999, is heading for last overall largely because it couldn't hold on to Dominik Hasek and got precious little in return when it was forced to trade him. Calgary will go seven straight years without a playoff berth. Bad management past and present figures into that, but then so does money. The economic model of the NHL today is "haves and have-nots," and while it's still possible to compete with a reasonable budget, it's almost impossible to win with one and it's becoming more and more difficult to even get to the postseason without a payroll of $40 million or so. Not every team can afford that. Something that the NHL needs to address before it becomes the winter version of Major League Baseball.
    Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address: jkelley@foxsports.com.
    Tagged: Tie Domi, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Oilers, Hurricanes, Kings, Stars, Canadiens, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Sharks, Blues, Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Panthers, Predators, Jets, Blue Jackets, Bill Guerin, Miroslav Satan, Slava Kozlov, Craig Conroy, Tony Amonte, Dominik Hasek, Janne Niinimaa, Glen Wesley, Aaron Ward, Richard Zednik, Dave Scatchard, Igor Ulanov, Shawn McEachern, Martin Straka, Scott Thornton, Sean Hill, Matthew Barnaby, Darcy Tucker, Chris Simon, Brad May, Tomas Vokoun, Geoff Sanderson, Ray Whitney, Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius, Jamie Lundmark

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