Pronger and Blues? Calls for Marty St. Louis? The latest trade rumblings ...
Well, fellow puckheads, after spending the day on the phone and the BlackBerry, here's the latest as we inch closer to Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.
We told you in Friday's blog that the St. Louis Blues might just keep Keith Tkachuk if they hang on in the playoff race. Well, imagine our shock Saturday when an NHL source told us they believed the Blues were among the several clubs that have inquired about star blueliner Chris Pronger.
That's pretty exciting stuff if you're a Blues fan. It tells you the front office believes the club is turning the corner and it's the right time to make this kind of deal. Obviously, Pronger, a former Blue, may end up elsewhere, or the Ducks may wait until the offseason to move him; but tell me you're not stunned to hear St. Louis is pursuing Pronger. Great stuff.
Boston has been rumored as another possibility for Pronger, but we were told Saturday the Bruins are no longer in the running. That could change again between now and Wednesday, but we were told the Bruins had their sights set on another blueliner.
We're not exactly sure who that is, but we'll throw out Derek Morris and Tomas Kaberle as educated guesses. For starters, Leafs GM Brian Burke was in Boston on Saturday and took in the Bruins game. Secondly, the Bruins are among the 10 teams Kaberle put on his trade wish list (he has a no-trade clause). We mention Morris only because we're told most of the interest in the free-agent-to-be has come from Eastern Conference teams. The Flyers love Pronger, but at this point, cap issues suggest they would have to wait until the offseason to get it done.
So, if you're Ducks GM Bob Murray, what do you do? Move Pronger now, or wait until the offseason? Tough call.
In the meantime, we've heard the Ducks have told captain Scott Niedermayer they won't move him.
We believe Philly, Calgary and Vancouver remain interested in the Florida Panthers defenseman, but other teams will now make themselves heard as the deadline approaches. Interestingly, as of Saturday, no team has yet to ask Florida for permission to talk to Bouwmeester's camp. Also of interest, we're told the Panthers haven't given up totally on an extension. But we still don't think the 25-year-old potential unrestricted free agent wants to sign in Florida.
We think it's noteworthy that on Friday the Canucks picked up another defenseman (Ossi Vaananen) to add to their depth. If Florida deals Bouwmeester, it will want a defenseman in return.
In the end, however, one NHL GM told us Saturday that he didn't think Florida would move him.
"They just can't. They need him to make the playoffs," said the GM.
We know this isn't a big name, but this little guy is a heck of a player. He's also slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1 and we're told he could be moved by the Canucks if he hasn't signed an extension by the trade deadline.Olli Jokinen
Right now, five teams have serious interest in Jokinen (one year left at $5.5 million next season), but the Coyotes could also move him at the June draft instead. There have been rumors about Columbus being interested, but we can tell you that's not the case. The Blue Jackets are not interested.
So many names available! They haven't talked contract with Ian Laperriere (UFA July 1) in two weeks, so he may be on the move. We believe the Detroit Red Wings like Laperriere, among several teams. ... Our "Hockey Night in Canada" colleague Elliotte Friedman told us on Saturday that veteran sniper Milan Hejduk (one year left at $4 million) was getting a lot of attention from other teams. ... The Avs had not yet approached the Ryan Smyth camp (no-movement clause) as of Saturday afternoon, so perhaps they'll keep him after all.
Brendan Witt (two more years at $3.5 million and $2.5 million) and Radek Martinek (two more years at $1.4 million and $1.9 million) are available, while sources say Bill Guerin (UFA) may be on the move to an Eastern Conference team as early as Sunday. Some teams have also called on Doug Weight, despite his injury (MCL sprain); he's expected back in three weeks. But the Isles are also debating re-signing him.
Contract talks continue between the Buffalo Sabres and Connolly's camp (UFA July 1). We're told the Jackets like him, but the Sabres may not necessarily move him even if they can't sign him. After all, they want to make the playoffs.
All the usual suspects are still in play (Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Dominic Moore), but a new name that has popped up on the radar is Jamal Mayers (one year left at $1.4 million).
As of Saturday afternoon, contract talks are still going nowhere with defenseman Filip Kuba (no-trade clause) and rugged winger Chris Neil. Both are slated to be UFAs July 1. Unless there's a last-minute change of heart from the players in question, the Sens might move them (if Kuba allows it). Kuba likes it in Ottawa and there are still plans for both sides to talk.
The Bolts may move Marek Malik (UFA), Gary Roberts (UFA), Mark Recchi (UFA) and Jeff Halpern (one more year at $2 million), but the guy getting all the interest is Martin St. Louis. We are told about a dozen teams have inquired about the star winger (including Edmonton), but the Bolts repeated yet again they don't want to move him. It's a cheap contract and they love the guy.Alexei Yashin
OK, we know this is out of left field. But we're told Mr. Yashin is curious about a possible return to the NHL next season. He's a free agent in Russia. Yashin still has six more years left of being paid $2.2 million a year from his previous buyout by the Islanders.