With mere hours left before the pre-Olympic roster freeze goes into effect (3 pm ET Friday), all appears relatively quiet on the NHL trade front. Unless the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings pull the trigger on a deal rumored to include forward Sam Gagner and forward Kyle Clifford, this season’s first unofficial trade deadline could pass without making much of a ripple.
For instance, there doesn't seem to be anything concrete in the works regarding Ryan Callahan. While there haven’t been any obvious “significant developments toward reaching a contract extension” with the New York Rangers, ESPN's own Katie Strang suggests Callahan isn't likely to be dealt before the freeze.
Furthermore, the New York Post reports the Rangers might actually net a better return for Dan Girardi than Callahan on the rental market. Contract talks with pending unrestricted free agent defenseman are also believed to be at a standstill.
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray reportedly wants to make a deal for a top-six winger. But even his own nephew -- Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray -- isn’t willing to play ball. Not yet anyway. While the Sabres general manager hopes to improve his club through trade(s), he’s apparently holding out until the official March 5 trade deadline draws closer.
In the vein of a potential Ottawa/Buffalo deal, there’s the opinion that Steve Ott might be a more valuable acquisition for the Senators than Matt Moulson. Both Sabres forwards are scheduled to become UFAs this summer.
While forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Andrew MacDonald remain on the roster – for now – Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are no longer members of the New York Islanders. Looking to acquire depth at center, the Chicago Blackhawks sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Islanders in exchange for Regin and Bouchard. This transaction in no way quashes GM Stan Bowman’s pre-deadline desire for a second-line center.
An understandably crushed Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone) is going to pass on representing Slovakia at the Sochi Games. Former NHLer Branko Radivojevic (KHL player since 2008) will take Gaborik’s place on the national squad. The Columbus Blue Jackets still expect to have their sniper back once NHL play resumes.
Despite Thursday’s loud and frequent rumblings supporting the notion, Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund will not be filling in for Henrik Sedin on Sweden’s national squad at the Games. The honor goes to Marcus Johansson of the Washington Capitals instead. Props to Backlund for being a good sport about the whole thing.
Friday's NHL Insider content features some Olympic-flavored fun and insight: Matthew Coller makes bold preliminary-round predictions based on Hockey Prospectus' goals versus threshold (GVT) metric, while Craig Custance breaks down the Ryan Miller versus Jonathan Quick debate for Team USA.
Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider hates the Olympics. Snider also hates the fact that Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning was chosen to replace Steven Stamkos on Team Canada instead of Flyers forward Claude Giroux. But mostly, he really hates the Olympics.
Playing limited minutes, superstar Pavel Datsyuk looked no worse for wear after suiting up for the Detroit Red Wings for the first time in more than a month. That bodes well for both the Red Wings and Team Russia.
UPDATE: According to Penguins GM Ray Shero, Pittsburgh Penguins can’t figure out why defenseman Kris Letang will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week. The good news? "The condition is treatable with blood thinners and at this point is not believed to be career-threatening."