With the NHL's trading deadline just over a month away, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger answered your questions on Tuesday regarding all the rumours and speculation so far and what to expect ahead.
Read the transcript of TSN.ca's 'TradeCentre Countdown' chat below.
Derek, Vancouver: I always hear about how a deal is about to go through a 'trade call.' When general managers agree to a deal, how does a trade call go down? Is it essentially a rubber stamp by the league? Take me through it!
Darren Dreger: Derek, in a very general sense, yes. The NHL accepts both teams' terms for the trade, makes sure the players contracts fit each respective clubs salary cap space and ultimately makes sure there are no loop-holes, or misunderstandings before the deal is allowed to close.
Aaron, Toronto: It seems that Brian Burke won't ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause, but everything I've read in the rumour mill suggests that the Leafs dealing him is a possibility. Where does the truth lie?
Darren Dreger: Dealing Tomas Kaberle is a possibility, no question about that. However, for that to happen before March 3, Kaberle will have to re-submit a list of teams he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join. Failing that, Kaberle's no-trade is lifted at the end of the season, giving Toronto complete freedom to trade the veteran defenceman to any team in the league. Toronto needs a top line centre and a first round draft pick. I'm not saying they'll get both, but acquiring at least one of the two is essential to this team's future.
Neil, Moncton: Hey Darren, obviously you and Bob McKenzie are the ones with all of the inside and reliable sources and valid rumours to report. As a Sens fan I must ask - have you heard any names coming to Ottawa as Bryan Murray is obviously a buyer given the their recent hot streak?
Darren Dreger: Neil, based on the way Ottawa is playing, there doesn't appear to be any glaring needs. However, every general manager works on upgrading his team and Bryan Murray is no different. Murray would like to add some depth up front to augment his secondary scoring. Names like Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen from the Carolina Hurricanes have been tossed around, but Murray won't do much in fear of upsetting the obvious chemistry this team now has.
Jeremy, Marystown, NL: Are the Habs actually going to trade/acquire anyone? There's so much speculation around what Bob Gainey might do, but it seems to me that he's waiting to see what's left over. We need a real sniper in Montreal! I'm all for getting guys that play well with each other (ie. Gomez and Gionta), but when is it going to sink in that right now this isn't enough?
Darren Dreger: Jeremy. Thanks for the email. There is a ton of speculation swirling around the Montreal Canadiens, mostly from other NHL teams wondering what type of play Gainey will make to help boost his team into the playoffs. Plekanec's name has surfaced, largely because of his contract status as he will be a prime unrestricted free agent this summer, and there's the odd rumor that makes the rounds with either Price or Halak's name involved, but most of it is quickly debunked. Sorry Jeremy, when it comes to the Habs these days, there isn't much to chew on.
Edward, South Korea: What will happen to Ilya Kovalchuk, and where he will go/end up?
Darren Dreger: Edward, the Atlanta Thrashers are still working hard to re-sign their captain to a long term, mega-million dollar deal. As of yesterday, sources close to the negotiation stated there's as good a chance of Kovalchuk staying in Atlanta as there is of Thrashers GM Don Waddell trading him. Atlanta remains in a battle for a playoff spot and Kovalchuk is key to this franchise making the playoffs. There has been much written about LA's expected play for Kovalchuk, however I believe the Kings have targeted Ray Whitney. Boston has also been rumoured to have interest, and the Bruins do, but not if it means mortgaging the future to make the deal. Multiple teams will continue to keep Waddell's number on speed dial, however the asking price is said to include 4 or 5 key assets. We're talking a young roster player(s), prospects and draft picks. Few teams will line up to pay that.
Alex, Calgary: Darren, last night on Twitter you were at as much of a loss at explaining the Jokinen-Kotalik trade from Calgary's perspective as anyone. The only conclusion that has been reached by everyone is that Darryl Sutter, with his sudden surplus of wingers, has to be working on yet another something bigger. What would you guess this is?
Darren Dreger: Alex, I tend to agree...it smells like there might be more to come. The Flames, in my opinion, still don't have a centre to complement Jarome Iginla. Matt Stajan is a quality centreman, however on a good team he's a decent No. 2, or a very good third line centre and like Chris Higgins, both contracts expire at the end of the season, so neither trade addresses Calgary's long-term concerns. Some wonder if Sutter may have another big deal in the works, but it's hard to imagine he would have dealt Dion Phaneuf to the Leafs if there was a better deal available.
Rory, Montreal: What effect do you think the Olympic trade freeze will have on NHL teams? Will we see almost all the deals in the days leading up to the freeze or will it be fast and furious on Mar. 3?
Darren Dreger: Hi Rory. It's always difficult to predict how much action we are going to see on Trade Deadline day. However, the roster freeze is definitely influencing trade discussions because there are teams on the outside of the playoff picture looking in that believe they're still a contender. I think we'll see a few more deals before Feb 12. Ponikarovsky is still available and the Leafs for sale sign is still up.
Alex, Kitchener: Darren, anything to update on Vinny Lecavalier?
Darren Dreger: Alex, I've asked Lightning co-owner Oren Koules at least three times in the past month to respond to the various Lecavalier trade rumors and each time he has said there is zero chance Vinny will be traded. The potential of an ownership change is obvisouly fueling the speculation, but keep in mind, Lecavalier has a no-move clause. I'm told he loves Tampa Bay and those close to him doubt very much he will clear the way for a trade.
Ben, St. John's, NL: Hey Darren, any rumor on if the Flyers are making any type of trade?
Darren Dreger: Ben, reports out of Philadelphia indicate the Flyers have shown interest in Ilya Kovalchuk, although I believe a depth defenceman is probably a more likely target. Perhaps, Holmgren was inspired by the Leafs and Flames seven player swap and is mounting a hard push...I doubt it.
Ron, Dorchester, ON: Darren, what sort of return could the Coyotes be seeking for Peter Mueller? He was on your Top 10 list of players who could be dealt, no?
Darren Dreger: Ron, yes, Peter Mueller is on the Top 10 list and before I placed him on the list, I checked with a Coyotes source to determine the rate of return. Phoenix expects a good young roster player or prospect in exchange for Mueller, who is considered to have some issues, but a lot of potential as well.
Justin, Dekalb, IL: With the Hawks about to get Bolland and Burish back from injury soon, do you believe they will finally move one or more of their forwards (Versteeg, Byfuglien, Sharp) to not only free up cap space for next season, but to solidify their defence? What names are you hearing with regard to the Hawks?
Darren Dreger: Hi Justin, the Chicago Blackhawks are loaded for bear! But, you've hit the area they'd like to improve right on the money, and that's their blueline. I've heard Chicago has interest in Tampa Bay defenceman Andrei Meszaros, but he's expensive and require Sharp, Versteeg or Cam Barker to get that deal done.
Kenneth, Winnipeg: What's the latest with the Islanders and Martin Biron? Any takers?
Darren Dreger: Kenneth, it's fairly quiet on Long Island. Last time I checked, Isles GM Garth Snow admitted there have been some tire kickers, but the market for goaltenders isn't very strong right now.
Derek, Windsor: What do you think the Red Wings should do? I know they have been hurt the whole year but I feel they need to do something big at the deadline. How do you feel about that?
Darren Dreger: Derek, It's somewhat unlike Ken Holland to do something 'big' at the deadline, although the Red Wings are in need of a transfusion. think they will ride it out with Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood in goal, but Holland will attempt to make some improvements to the rest of his lineup. Detroit isn't linked to any major trade speculation, however I have heard Ville Leino's name in trade circles. Given Leino hasn't done much this season, I doubt he will fetch a significant return.
Adam, Calgary: Hey Darren, just wondering if there's anything you think the Dallas Stars will do on or leading up to the deadline? I know they are cash strapped due to Tom Hicks' finances, but there are some definite holes on the team!
Darren Dreger: Adam, Dallas is going to be an interesting study. The word is the Stars are likely to cut payroll for next season. To what degree, we can't be sure, but if Dallas stumbles in the coming weeks and falls out of the playoff picture, all bets are off. Turco's name is out there, but there will be others if Joe Nieuwendyk embraces a full culture change. Ribeiro, Ott, Brunnstrom...go down the list, the Dallas Stars could be among the most active at the trade deadline.
Tom in Buffalo: Darren, aside from last night's game, the Sabres look like a very deep team that can maybe make a push in the playoffs granted Miller is healthy. With Darcy Regier being a conservative general manager, what do you expect the Sabres to do at the deadline?
Darren Dreger: Tom, Buffalo is a team deep in talent, but I know the Sabres would like to add another defenceman to help their power play and some believe Buffalo may show interest in either Ray Whitney or Matt Cullen to add some experience and scoring. Only if the fit is right - Regier won't overpay.
Geoff, Yorkton, ON: Any other players besides Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen on their way out of Carolina? I have heard Joe Corvo's name as well. What would Carolina expect back and which teams have interest in the Canes' players?
Darren Dreger: Walker, Ward, Alberts, Yelle, Wallin, Legace. The Carolina Hurricanes are rebuilding with Eric Staal, Cam Ward, and potentially the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to lead the construction. A number of teams have interest in the players both you and I have identified. I know at least one team is prepared to give up a first rounder and a prospect for Whitney.
Jessica, Edmonton: Is Sheldon Souray still marketable on the trade front with a broken hand? I mean, he'll be back a couple of weeks after the deadline, right?
Darren Dreger: Jessica, Souray expects to return late in the regular season, but in time for the playoffs. Since Edmonton won't be in the playoffs, it's Souray's hope a western conference team gambles on him at the deadline and gives him a chance to show this season is not indicative of an eroding career. With a big fat contract, he's a tough sell, but he's a character guy and there is a chance someone accepts the risk and makes the deal.
Scott, Columbus: Do you see the Penguins making any moves, a-la the Hossa and Guerin trades from the past two years?
Darren Dreger: Scott, Ray Shero always finds a move at or near the deadline and in the case of Guerin, obviously it couldn't have worked out better. We (media) seem to have made a connection between Carolina and Pittsburgh and see Ray Whitney on a line with Sidney Crosby. There's not question Whitney would be a nice add for the Penguins, however, unless something changes, there is no evidence to suggest this could happen. That said, as I've pointed out, this is exactly the type of deal Shero traditionally has looked for.
Trevor, Barrie: Darren, how much 'tweaking' do powerhouse teams like San Jose and Washington have to do? They seem unstoppable on most nights!
Darren Dreger: Trevor, I know the Sharks had considerable interest in Ian White, an inexpensive defenceman with tons of upside, before the Flames scooped him in the Phaneuf blockbuster. That's an example of the type of deal San Jose will be in the market for. As for the Capitals, it's going to be intriguing to watch George McPhee play his hand. Does Washington need some help on the backend? Maybe a shutdown forward or PK specialist? McPhee has the cap space to add some bodies and with consistant goaltending, there is a growing sense the Caps should be considered the favored team in the East.
Craig in St. John's: Darren, what will the be on the Canucks' wish list come trade deadline? Do you forsee them making any moves? Have you heard any rumours?
Darren Dreger: Craig, Well, like so many other teams deemed to quality contenders, the Canucks have been rumored to have interest in Kovalchuk. I'm not sure I would be wise for Mike Gillis to tinker with what he has in a dynamic top line with Sedin, Sedin and Burrows. Various sources place Vancouver in the same category as a lot of teams who have an interest in improving defensively.
Derek, Edmonton: Hi Darren, can you provide some insight on where the Boston Bruins are at with respect to adding some offense prior to the deadline?
Darren Dreger: Derek, There's no question the Bruins need offensive improvement. Some of that will come internally as proven players regain their health and their scoring tough. However, there is an expectation in Boston that the Bruins will contend for the conference title and Stanley Cup, but in order to do that, Peter Chiarelli may have to make a bold move. He's not afraid to do it...he's proven that in the past. Boston will take a swing at Kovalchuk, in fact, I'm sure there have been initial discussions. The Bruins have the assets with draft picks to peddle, prospects and roster players. Don't count on it, unless Atlanta's asking price comes down.
Jeff, Regina: Darren, you've been at TSN for a while now - any crazy stories on how you or Bob broke a specific deal on TradeCentre?
Darren Dreger: Not really. Breaking trades is always based on working contacts. That said, years ago I broke the Joe Thornton trade to San Jose based on a tip received from some sharp co-workers who were assigned to watch a San Jose game and realized Marco Sturm, among others, was a healthy scratch. I made a call to a good source in San Jose who divulged Sturm was part of a trade with the Bruins that included Joe Thornton. I feverishly posted the story and sat on pins and needles with my heart rate off the charts until finally, both teams confirmed the deal.
Darren Dreger: Folks, once again I'm overwhelmed by the interest you've shown and wish we had more time to get to more emails. We'll do it again soon. In the meantime, always keep an eye on TSN.ca for breaking NHL news, or by following me and Bob McKenzie on Twitter.
NHL on TSN TradeCentre 2010 can be followed on TSN and TSN.ca on Wed., Mar. 3 beginning at 8am et/5am pt. And be sure to follow TSN's NHL coverage all season long on SportsCentre, the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey on TSN. TSN2, TSN.ca and TSN HD.