With the Olympic trade freeze (Feb. 7) just around the corner and the official NHL deadline (Mar. 5) on the horizon, the potential for more wheeling and dealing grows by the day.
Forward Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers has been one popular target for such talk, to the point members of TSN’s Thursday broadcast panel suggested trading the 23-year-old winger would be the best move for the Oilers (although Darren Dreger recommended the team wait until the offseason). However, both GM Craig MacTavish and owner Daryl Katz have insisted they have no interest in moving Eberle.
Other current chatter features the case for trading defenseman Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, and why dealing defenseman Kris Letang might not be such a lousy idea for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Also, ESPN Insider Craig Custance expands on the upside of trading for F/D hybrid Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets. The next few weeks should be good fun for those who relish a meatier variety of trade talk.
UPDATE: Not gonna happen. Prospal is opting for retirement instead ... In other NHL news, the Vancouver Canucks are signing Vinny Prospal, aka Vaclav, to an AHL tryout contract. If all goes well, the soon-to-be 39-year-old forward could ink an NHL deal and serve as a depth forward with the Canucks. Prospal and coach John Tortorella go way back, first associating as player and coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001.
Anticipate a little more Alex Stalock (than usual) for the San Jose Sharks ahead of the Olympics, and perhaps beyond. Coach Todd McLellan doesn’t want to overexert his No. 1 netminder, particularly since Antti Niemi is representing Finland in Sochi. It also helps that Stalock is riding a two-game shutout streak. If he continues to perform well, the Sharks backup could start every third or fourth game. Fantasy owners take note: Stalock is available in 93 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Some good news on the injury front for the Detroit Red Wings: Veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson (back) is a solid “maybe” for Friday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Also, Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body) is skating regularly and Johan Franzen (concussion) is no longer “in the fog”. The Wings might actually have a full corps of healthy forwards – excepting Stephen Weiss – as early as next week.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien intends to juggle his defensive pairings for Friday’s game in Detroit. Look for Andrei Markov to partner Alexei Emelin, while P.K. Subban is pegged to skate with Douglas Murray. Rookie Nathan Beaulieu and Josh Gorges are likely to round out the assembly of six.
Left off the original roster, former NHLer Alex Burmistrov may still get the opportunity to suit up for Team Russia at the Sochi games. With forward Denis Kokarev injured, Dmitry Chesnokov proposes Burmistrov is the favorite to fill the void. The Jet/Thrasher of days gone by currently plays for AK Bars Kazan of the KHL.
The Ottawa Senators may have too many defensemen (see: Marc Methot benching), meaning one could be moved before the trade deadline. It’s a reasonable hypothesis, considering the Senators’ desire for a top-six forward.
Pending free agent Thomas Vanek hints at offering a compromise that might please everyone involved in his future, both short- and long-term. If he is dealt before the early-March deadline, Vanek proposes he might be open to signing with the New York Islanders as a UFA in July. In current on-ice news, Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) has apparently been cleared for contact.
There can’t be a more excited player in the NHL this Friday than winger Joe Whitney. The career minor-leaguer is making his big-league debut for the New Jersey Devils – on a top line with Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac, to boot. Joe Whitney Fun Fact: The 25-year-old is believed to be equal in height to Carolina Hurricanes forward Nathan Gerbe (listed at five-foot-five).
The Calgary Flames are mucking around with playing centerman Joe Colborne at right wing. With Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Matt Stajan kicking about, the Flames feel to be in good shape at the center position.
Out since early November with hip/knee injuries, Alex Tanguay is expected to return Friday, when his squad visits the Florida Panthers. The veteran forward is pegged to reclaim his spot on a Colorado Avalanche line with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny. Also, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post discusses Nathan MacKinnon – who’s actually losing his position on Stastny’s line to Tanguay – as a prominent Calder Trophy candidate.