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Deadline looms

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Add veteran left winger Slava Kozlov to the list of Atlanta Thrashers willing to play elsewhere by the March 3 trade deadline.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported Friday Kozlov’s agent approached Thrashers GM Don Waddell prior to the Olympic break to inform him the Russian wanted a trade due to a lack of playing time and would waive his no-trade clause to go to a playoff contender.

Kozlov, 37, has only 24 points in 52 games this season, but had a 76-point performance in 2008-09, so there might be some teams seeking offensive help that are willing to gamble a change of scenery will help Kozlov regain his scoring touch.

Boston Bruins center Marc Savard recently said he hoped management would bring in another scoring forward. Kozlov was a teammate of Savard’s with the Thrashers for three years, so it might be a good fit.

Other Thrashers who might be dealt include forwards Colby Armstrong and Maxim Afinogenov, plus defenseman Pavel Kubina. Like Kozlov, those three are eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.

• Florida Panthers GM Randy Sexton was busy during the Olympic break discussing various trade options with other teams. While he admits he expects to make a trade or two by the deadline he insists he’s not engaging in a “fire sale.”

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was linked with the Chicago Blackhawks in trade rumors during the break, but Sexton said he hasn’t asked Vokoun to waive his no-movement clause and wouldn’t say if he intends on asking for a list of trade destinations.

TSN’s Darren Dreger claimed many Panthers players were available, but it doesn’t sound like Vokoun is one of them.

Sexton also told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel the trade deadline was just one phase in his plan to revamp his roster.

That means Vokoun, who has another season remaining on his contract, could be shopped during the off-season. It’s been suggested his trade value has never been higher and it’s unlikely it will decline this summer.

• Trade rumors have dogged Chicago Blackhawks left winger Kris Versteeg for several weeks. He’s struggled offensively this season and, as noted by the Chicago Daily Herald, was one of several players who received a higher-than-expected raise last summer due to management error.

The Blackhawks already traded one of those players, Cam Barker, to free up cap space for next season and Versteeg is rumored to be next, but he hopes to remain with the team.

Versteeg would likely attract interest in the trade market, but his salary – a little more than $3 million per – might be difficult for the Blackhawks to move at this point in the season.

Unless he’s swapped for a player making a comparable salary who could be jettisoned in the off-season, or as part of a package that would have the Blackhawks taking back less salary, Versteeg will likely finish the season in Chicago.

• Dallas Stars center Brad Richards was the subject of a recent Internet rumor that had him going to Edmonton in a three-way trade with the Montreal Canadiens, but Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News doesn’t foresee any scenario in which the Stars would trade Richards this season.

Heika suggests it’s possible the club will try to move him next season because he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2011, but also noted Richards has a no-trade clause and is happy playing in Dallas.

• Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter acknowledged he had an excess of forwards, but suggested it will probably be a quiet trade deadline for him.

Given Sutter’s track record for saying one thing and doing another when it comes to trade speculation – hello, Olli Jokinen and Dion Phaneuf – his comments won’t stop suggestions he’s not done shopping around.

• Philadelphia Flyers management insisted last week they’re content to stick with goaltenders Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher should starter Ray Emery continue to be hampered by a hip injury.

It’s believed they’d like to add a scoring forward to one of their top three lines, but the Camden Courier-Post suggests they lack the assets to acquire one, especially since they’ve already dealt away two first round picks to acquire Chris Pronger.

Even if the Flyers wanted to make moves, the number of players on their roster with no-movement clauses plus their limited salary cap space will likely prevent them from making any significant deadline deals.

• Looks like Raffi Torres will be on his way out of Columbus by March 3.

The Columbus Dispatchreported Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and Torres’ agent met during the Olympic break, but were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract.

The paper also noted defenseman Milan Jurcina has received nearly as much interest in the trade market as Torres. It’s believed the Jackets want a second-rounder for Torres and could accept a mid-round pick for Jurcina.

Torres has been linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jurcina with the Ottawa Senators.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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