Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
The latest trade scuttlebutt from the NHL GM meetings
Monday, February 18, 2008 | 03:32 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
CBCSports.ca's Scott Morrison is in Naples, Fla., covering the National Hockey League's annual general managers' meeting.
A funny thing happened Monday at the NHL general managers meetings.
Even though the hotel is attached to a nifty golf course, when the meetings broke up early Monday afternoon only a handful grabbed their clubs. The rest retreated to their rooms and the telephone or went off with cellphone in hand.
Just a week away from the trade deadline, which is Feb. 26, there is considerable talk as you would expect.
"I think a lot of guys are looking to plant the seeds for a deal here," said Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. "There has been a lot of discussion going on, to see if there is something you can create. You want to leave here with a couple of options to act on closer to the deadline."
Added another general manager: "Toronto and Los Angeles are the hot teams here. They're both looking to do the same thing. They're looking to reload and they want that first pick. Or at least one of the first couple of picks."
Forsberg out, focus turns to Sundin and Hossa
The big news of the day actually happened in Sweden, where Peter Forsberg announced it is highly unlikely he will be returning to the NHL this season. With him out of the way, the attention shifts to the likes of Mats Sundin and Marian Hossa.
Beyond the Forsberg news, the hot rumour du jour involved Maple Leafs Tomas Kaberle, a talented defenceman, an all-star, who has a no-trade clause and is under contract for three more years at $4.25 million US annually. As such, he is not the first player interim GM Cliff Fletcher wants to move unless he is blown away by the offer.
Fletcher admitted Monday that he has not asked any of the five Leafs (Kaberle, Sundin, Pavel Kubina, Bryan McCabe and Darcy Tucker) who have no-trade or no-movement clauses if they would waive them.
"I haven't asked yet," said Fletcher. "If I'm going to ask, I want to go to them with something tangible for them to evaluate."
15 teams eyeing Kaberle
Kaberle is certainly a hot commodity. In fact, a source said no fewer than 15 teams have expressed serious interest, one of which was reportedly the Philadelphia Flyers, though that wasn't confirmed. Regardless, almost all the contenders would like him, for the present and the future.
"I can say there has been a lot of interest in him," Fletcher told CBCSports.ca mid-afternoon Monday, "but I haven't asked Tomas yet if he would waive his no trade. We'll see what happens."
Another source close to the Leafs suggested, while no one has talked to Kaberle yet, there is a feeling the answer will be no.
"But until you ask..." said the source.
Meantime, most of the big names being tossed around are potential unrestricted free agents, rentals in other words. Before most are dealt, however, teams have to decide whether they have a chance of signing the player first, while also determining what their playoff status is. That isn't an issue with the likes of the Leafs or Kings, but it applies to others.
Here is the latest trade scuttlebutt:
Marian Hossa: Thrashers general manager Don Waddell admits he has three options with Hossa, a pending unrestricted free agent.
1. Sign him. "The odds of that are getting slimmer," said Waddell.
2. Trade him. "We're not interested in draft picks, that can be part of the puzzle, but our future is now and we think we can win our division," continued Waddell.
3. Keep him. "We could keep him and take a run at the playoffs, but the odds of dealing him before July 1 aren't good," said Waddell. "We could possibly sign him later if we had success, that might change things because with him it's all about whether we are winning."
Conclusion. Waddell will trade him and several teams are lining up. Montreal is interested and Christopher Higgins's name has been mentioned. San Jose has inquired, but the asking price included Jonathan Cheechoo. Detroit is very hot on Hossa. Anaheim and Dallas are also in the hunt.
Rob Blake: It is true, Blake has made it known that he wants to stay in Los Angeles. This is based on a number of factors, including it is where he wants to live and leaving his family for several months isn't necessarily option number one. However, he also hasn't been asked yet to waive his no-trade clause.
"I haven't asked him yet because I haven't been presented with an offer that I would consider worth talking to him about," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi. "We talked twice last week about a lot of things, but I haven't asked him. It's a balancing act, a two-way street and ultimately he makes the final decision."
Lombardi acknowledges that he is aware of Blake's desires, thus he is only listening to a handful of teams, either those close to L.A. (which would mean Anaheim and San Jose) or organizations that Blake respects, which have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.
"There are certain places he would be partial to, I'm not stupid about that," said Lombardi. "But like I said, no one has made the offer I feel is worthy of taking to Rob to ask the question. And if the answer is no, then the answer is no."
Meantime, Los Angeles is looking to move some veteran players and free agents. Winger Ladislav Nagy, who signed a one-year deal, is available with moderate interest.
Dan Boyle: A potential unrestricted free agent in the summer, Tampa has had contract talks with Boyle, who wants to stay with the Lightning. But the numbers have to add up. It's believed Boyle wants somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6.5 million to $7.5 million.
"We're still talking," said Lightning general manager Jay Feaster. "He's interested in staying, regardless of what happens he's building a house in Tampa, he's engaged to a local girl. We'll see what happens, but if you're not going to get guys signed you have to look at getting some assets back."
Feaster acknowledged there has been "a lot of interest in Dan."
Sources say that eight teams, including Ottawa, have expressed an interest in forward Vinny Prospal, another pending unrestricted free agent.
Brian Campbell: Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said yesterday he will make his "best" offer to Campbell this week. As with many of the others, no deal and another UFA will be moved.
Peter Forsberg: Many, including Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, expected Forsberg to announce early this week, perhaps even Tuesday, his intentions. Sources had indicated Forsberg was a virtual lock to return to the NHL with the only question being where? Indeed, over the weekend several general managers said it was a lock, but Forsberg couldn't convince himself he could stay at 100 per cent.
Late Monday afternoon Forsberg announced it was unlikely he will return this season, meaning he won't. If he doesn't sign by Feb. 26 he isn't eligible for the playoffs and that isn't going to happen, so the dynamic of the trade deadline is altered significantly.
Given that the Flyers thought they had the best shot at Forsberg, they could intensity their hunt for help elsewhere. Vancouver, Colorado, Ottawa and Minnesota were all in the sweepstakes, as well.
Senators: They were obviously talking with Forsberg and are talking to Atlanta about Hossa. Admitted Murray: "I'd like to do something, I think we could use a shot in the arm. But it's not the end of the world if we don't.
"We have only have six defencemen with NHL experience, I wouldn't mind acquiring another player there. And you're always looking for good scoring. With our team, if the big guys don't score we have a tough time."
Said a second line forward is a priority, too. It's believed they have been in the hunt for Boyle and Campbell.
Hurricanes: With the injury to centre Rod Brind'Amour and the tight playoff race, they are still looking to add a piece or two.
"I'd like to get another centre, a third-line guy," said general manager Jimmy Rutherford.
One name overheard was Maple Leafs centre Dominic Moore, though no confirmation of talks.
Islanders: They are looking to move Miro Satan and Mike Comrie.
THIS AND THAT:
Asked if he spoke with Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe during the morning meetings, Ducks GM Brian Burke said: "No." He paused and added: "That ain't gonna happen." ... Columbus continues to talk with defenceman Adam Foote, a UFA this summer. They would like to do a deal ...
The GMs spent the morning divided into four groups to essential review the state of the game. One group talked about research and development ventures, another talked about salary retention in trades, as well as possibly preventing teams from re-signing rental players they deal and moving the start of free-agent shopping season from July 1 to the sixth to avoid the holiday conflicts and maximize exposure.
Various rules were discussed, including clarifying what constitutes a "kicked in" goal, the instigator rule, one-minute penalties in overtime, high sticking penalties, shootouts without helmets, all-star no shows, throat protection, goaltender equipment, slashing penalties involving a broken stick.
The full group will discuss the various issues and forward their recommendations to the competition committee and ultimately the board of governors. The sore spot with the GMs, though, is that the competition committee (comprised of owners, players and managers) has previously rejected some of the recommendations. The GMs feel, and rightly so, they should be the voice for hockey-related matters.
More on all that discussion Tuesday.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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