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From the Pressbox: The Flames' Fire Sale Continues

Paul Bruno

Paul Bruno

Paul is a 22-year veteran of the STATS INC reporter network, scoring play by play for the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs. He is also the creator of the statistical platform which evolved into the NHL's Real Time Scoring System, which was unveiled in 1992. You can also hear him on XM Sirius and nextsportsstar.com, talking hockey and baseball.In addition to all of Toronto's teams, he is also a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys.


Today, in From the Pressbox:

The pre-trade deadline rumors and trade related activity is in full swing with some big-ticket names already moving in advance of Wednesday's deadline. We look at the moves that were made in recent days and wade into some speculation around other key names in the rumor mill. A pair of high profile injuries may provide mixed blessings in Pittsburgh.

Penguins Land Iginla

The Eastern Conference leaders apparently aren't kidding around as they moved quickly to snap up Jarome Iginla after it was being reported that a deal was in place with Boston. So convinced were the Bruins that they had a deal that they actually removed players from their active roster and that of their AHL affiliate, who were scheduled to play last Thursday night.

A formality in trades that is not commonly known to fans is that a trade call has to be made by the clubs to properly seal any deals and that's where things got a bit confusing from Boston's perspective. Rampant speculation seems to indicate that Calgary GM Jay Feaster may have told Iginla that there were comparable deals in place with both clubs and Iginla was probably in on the decision to include his preference to play for the Penguins.

As these teams are among the favorites to go deep into the playoffs, the whole affair would provide a compelling subtext if the Pens and B' meet in the post-season.

Fire Sale on in Calgary as Bouwmeester goes to the Blues

An unimpressive regular season, not wholly unexpected in Calgary, seems to be playing out as the first stages of a huge makeover in Cowtown as the Flames have quickly pedaled a prominent defender with a big cap number to the St. Louis Blues.  Bouwmeester. The 29-year old minute-eater will be on the books for $6.68 M this season and next year as well. The cost was fairly steep as the Flames will get a conditional first round draft pick, a veteran goalie (Reto Barra) from the Swedish elite league and a 4-year professional blueliner (Mark Cundari) who has shown himself to be a solid scorer and a physical presence in Peoria (AHL).

The other big name in the Calgary news is Miikka Kiprusoff and, at this time, it is being reported that the Maple Leafs have been given permission to speak to Kipper's agents to evaluate his willingness to move out of Calgary. The 36-year old goalie is thought to be of interest to the Leafs to provide a veteran presence in goal. For his part Kiprusoff has just had a newborn child added to his family, amid some complications, and is considering retirement given those circumstances.

Roberto Luongo has four suitors according to the Canucks  

Possibly related to the Kiprusoff rumors, we are also hearing that the Canucks have a number of teams kicking tires on their veteran goalie. Of course, everyone is well aware that Luongo has nine years remaining on his contract, which has an annual cap hit of $5.3 M.

The Leafs have long been linked to any Luongo rumor and only recently have both sides introduced other possibilities into these and other potential trading partners.

What this really looks like is a game of chicken, as both sides are hoping that their tactics will bring a more favorable deal in their direction and bring an end to the season-long speculation around Luongo's future.

There remains a very real possibility that no deal will be made for Luongo before the deadline, but that will merely postpone the inevitable as the Canucks face a horrible cap space future, that's been documented in this column in prior weeks, until they solve their goalie dilemma.

The Sabres shred their defense corps

The greatest needs being expressed by contending teams on the eve of another post-season have related to the pursuit of veteran defensemen. Buffalo team management has apparently received this message loud and clear as the Sabres moved a pair of blueliners in the last few days.

First, they parlayed Jordan Leopold, a good puck-moving defender, into a 2nd round draft pick and a conditional 5th round pick from St Louis. Then, on Monday they moved Robin Regehr, a veteran shutdown guy to the Kings in exchange for a pair of 2nd round picks over the next two years.

These deals have also led observers to wonder about other Sabres who may be available before the trade deadline this week. There are rumbles that Captain Jason Pominville and high scoring forward Tomas Vanek, with expiring cap hits after next season of $5.3 and $7.1 M respectively, may also be on the trade block.  It would be difficult to explain those players moving because that would imply a complete overhaul in the Queen City.

Prior to this season, I would have included goalie Ryan Miller in Buffalo's unlikely-to-move category but he's not had a great year in goal and more surprisingly has been a negative quote in the Sabres dressing room on more than a few post-game reels this season. He also has a year remaining with a $6.25 M stipend and would seem more likely to be a trade candidate for goalie-starved teams, if we are to conclude that he has talked his way out of Buffalo.

No giving up in Philadelphia

The Flyers may still only rank 12th in the Eastern Conference race, but the reality is that they are four points out of the final playoff spot. Despite the fact that any deficit is hard to make up at this stage of the season and there are three other teams to catch, Philadelphia management is apparently in acquiring mode.    

They have added an experienced defenseman in 6'4" Kent Huskins and tough guy Jay Rosehill from Anaheim, both at little cost. It may be perceived as tinkering around the edges, but these were two glaring needs that are intended to motivate the Flyer dressing room and keep fan interest inspired for a while longer in Philadelphia.

Other names in the rumor mill

A number of experienced and valuable players are toiling with non-playoff teams and are also playing out their final contract years. They are the guys who should be moved before the deadline if their current clubs truly don't have a lot of interest in resigning them.

Mike Ribeiro is likely to be pursued at the deadline, as he is a gifted playmaking center who could solidify a secondary scoring unit. That's the role he has filled in Washington, but the Caps have underperformed this year and the 33 year old may fetch more value than what he may be able to deliver if the Caps consider the alternative of resigning him to big bucks as he approached his mid-30s, as a declining asset.

Although he's only 29, Derek Roy has a similar profile in Dallas, playing out the final year of a $4 M hit, while delivering 22 points in 30 games, for the Stars attack. It's unlikely that Roy would earn on his next deal, so the Stars have to determine which course of action they will take. You have to figure he still has some good years left and he has been a clutch performer in the past.  

Other players, with big cap hits next year, on teams that are out of the running this season, may also be up for discussion in trade talks.

Florida defenseman Brian Campbell has carved out a career as a power play specialist. Teams that are very serious contenders may take a long look at him if they think his addition would put them over the top. Ordinarily, has a $7.14 M cap hit in each of the next three years would not bring into serious talks, but this year each team can write off two contracts without future cap repercussions.

A less expensive, but similar set of circumstances surrounds Colorado's Paul Stastny, a solid scoring center, who is viewed as somewhat redundant in the Avalanche lineup, yet carrying a team high $6 M cap hit through next season.   

The next tier of available players who are in trade talks include Dallas Stars winger Jaromir Jagr (possibly targeted by Boston and Montreal), San Jose winger Ryan Clowe (coveted by the Flyers and Hurricanes defenseman Jamie McBain, who is of interest to s few teams looking for defensive help.

Pittsburgh Injuries - a possible blessing in disguise

In the middle of a season high win-streak the Penguins made more headlines with three trades in the last couple of weeks, but a fluke injury that has sidelined Sidney Crosby for four weeks with a broken jaw has obscured all of that for the time being. Coupled with a pair of injuries that have sidelined top defenseman Kris Letang, Pittsburgh will face some tough times over the remainder of the regular season.

The Pens do have an insurmountable lead of 18 points in their division, but only have a five-point lead in the Eastern Conference over Montreal and that may be in some jeopardy.

The silver lining in this scenario is that Crosby and Letang, two skaters who log tons of ice time in the ordinary scheme of things, may really benefit from some down time and return with more drive after the rest that comes from been outside the rigors of the compressed schedule of this lockout-shortened season.

Up next, we sit back and see how changes, made through the next two days, alter the NHL hockey season.

Paul Bruno has been writing about the fantasy sports scene for several years and is an accredited member of the sports media in Toronto for over 20 years. You are invited to send your feedback and you can follow him on Twitter (statsman22).

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