But will there be a domino effect in the NHL trade market heading into the Feb. 27 deadline? “My sense is that it’s going to go down closer to the trade deadline,” Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Tuesday.
“If you look at the standings, in the East every team except Philly is within six points of a playoff spot and in the West, 12 teams are within six or eight points of a playoff spot. So I think we’re going to be waiting for the last few days to the deadline.”
His colleague, Don Waddell in Atlanta, agreed. The Thrashers GM is working the phones but is finding that there aren’t many teams that are ready to sell yet.
“If teams start falling out in the next week to two weeks, then maybe more deals will start to get done,” he said. “But right now everyone seems to be holding their cards close to their vest.”
Los Angeles and Philadelphia are in dump mode, soon to be followed in all likelihood by Chicago. But that’s about it for now.
Columbus and Florida may soon join, depending on how this week goes for them. It literally changes from week to week from here on in.
A month ago the St. Louis Blues were readying themselves for a firesale. Now that’s on hold – for now – thanks to the sharp turnaround under new coach Andy Murray.
“The team has played so well that suddenly you’re in the race . . . It’s making it interesting,” said Blues GM Larry Pleau. “But there’s still lots of time to make those decisions, that’s for sure.”
When to buy, when to sell – teams will have to make that call in the next few weeks.
“Teams are walking that tight rope,” said Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke. “It takes courage to sell this early. But I think there will be so few teams mathematically eliminated at the deadline that the playoff-bound teams will end up fighting over five or six guys.”
Burke vehemently shot down a Toronto-based rumour that he was talking to the Maple Leafs about captain Mats Sundin.
But the Ducks may look to tweak their Cup-contending lineup, perhaps by adding depth up front and on defence.
“We think our team is in good shape,” said Burke. “If we can add depth or upgrade, we will. But people shouldn’t expect a big move here.”
Time will tell. Burke’s Ducks are among the teams that have been linked to Philadelphia Flyers centre Peter Forsberg, joining other clubs such as Detroit, San Jose, Colorado, Carolina, Montreal and the New York Rangers – among others.
The Red Wings look like such a nice fit with Forsberg’s Swedish buddies Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg already in Hockeytown.
First thing’s first, though. Forsberg won’t waive his no-trade clause until he feels his foot/skate problems have been resolved to the point where he thinks he can help another team.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says the No. 1 option remains to try and sign the pending unrestricted free agent but also realizes why teams are calling him.
“It’s Peter Forsberg and some of these teams are geared up for a playoff run, whether you’re a team on the bubble or a team that’s at the top, you add a guy like that and all of a sudden you make people take notice,” said Holmgren.
“I’ve had lots of calls and they’ve all been the same: ‘If you ever get to the point where you’re thinking about moving him, we’d have interest.”‘
Holmgren met with Forsberg on Monday but all they agreed upon at this point is that he needs to get healthy.
“At some point in the next few weeks we’ll probably talk again but a lot of it depends on how he feels,” said Holmgren. “He’ll try to get comfortable and get his skate issues worked out. Then, option A would be doing something with us (re-signing), or the other option (trading him), which we haven’t even got to yet.”
In the meantime, Holmgren is getting plenty of interest for some of his other players.
“We’ve had more calls probably in the last 10 days on some of our unrestricted players,” he said. “I would say that’s a fair comment, that it’s heating up.”