Bryan Allen #5 and Tim Gleason #6 of the Carolina Hurricanes battle for the puck with Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins during play at the RBC Center on January 14, 2012 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
(January 13, 2012 – Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America)
(PhatzRadio / USA Today) — With the NHL trade deadline three weeks from Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be everyone’s favorite partner.
General manager Jim Rutherford hopes his team rockets into contention, but the more likely scenario is the Hurricanes becoming a major seller. Tuomo Ruutu (16 goals) is the hottest trade name.
The cost for Ruutu could be high. Last year’s hot rental player, Tomas Kaberle, went to the Boston Bruins for prospect Joe Colborne and a first- and second-round pick.
What other Eastern Conference teams are looking to accomplish before the Feb. 27 deadline:
•Boston: Keep an eye on Nathan Horton (concussion). If his situation drags on, the Bruins might go stronger into the trade market. Otherwise, they might not want to disrupt chemistry.
•Buffalo Sabres: Is it too late for the Sabres to climb back into the race? That’s what they have to ask themselves pretty quickly. If they believe they can, they will make a move sooner than later. The problem is they need a No. 1 center, and not many are available. They are also pushed up against the salary cap ceiling.
•Florida Panthers: Negotiations to extend defenseman Jason Garrison’s contract would seem to be their top mission. With Ed Jovanovski out until March, another veteran defenseman could help them try to win the Southeast Division.
•Montreal Canadiens: Hal Gill is 6-7, 240-plus pounds, and he’s a past Stanley Cup winner. He is among the more desirable rental players available. Andrei Kostitsyn (11 goals, 12 assists) should have trade value, and Travis Moen could be a role player on a contender.
•New Jersey Devils: The Devils are expected to hang on to potential free agent Zach Parise. GM Lou Lamoriello did his shopping early by landing Alexei Ponikarovsky.
•New York Islanders: Rivals will be calling about defensemen Mark Eaton and Steve Staios. Veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov could be an option for a team seeing insurance in net. P.A. Parenteau, the team’s No. 2 scorer, is an interesting rental, but the Islanders likely will push to re-sign him.
•New York Rangers: The Rangers want help up front, and the New York Post reported their interest in Edmonton Oilers winger Ryan Smyth, who has a no-trade clause.
•Ottawa Senators: The Senators are looking for offensive help, and Ruutu seems to be their primary target.
•Philadelphia Flyers: With Chris Pronger out for the season, GM Paul Holmgren’s biggest need is for a veteran defenseman. They probably would be interested in Gill,
•Pittsburgh Penguins: If injured Sidney Crosby can come back, it would have a larger impact than any deal any team will make. The question: Can he come back this season?
•Tampa Bay Lightning: If the Lightning decide to be a seller, GM Steve Yzerman will be busy. If the Lightning don’t re-sign Dominic Moore, many teams will want him. Ryan Malone could draw interest, as will Adam Hall. Tampa Bay’s wish list includes a goaltender, but the cost for the Vancouver Canucks’ Cory Schneider would be exorbitant. That might be a mission best achieved in the summer when they could consider acquiring younger goalies such as Ben Bishop, Anders Lindback or Josh Harding.
•Toronto Maple Leafs: GM Brian Burke wants to add a top six forward, meaning he will have to look into the Ruutu sweepstakes. Columbus Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter would be a fit, but Burke dislikes long-term deals and Carter is on an 11-year deal. How about Ryan Getzlaf? Burke knows him from his Anaheim Ducks days. But that would take a blockbuster, and those deals are usually done in the summer.
•Washington Capitals: Do the Capitals need a culture change? Should they trade Alexander Semin rather than lose him for nothing in the summer? In the past, GM George McPhee has been aggressive at the deadline. This seems to be a team that needs a boost just to make the playoffs.
•Winnipeg Jets: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t want to part with younger assets but could move some veterans. Johnny Oduya could fill a void on a contender. Ron Hainsey will make $3 million next season, but has a $4.5 million cap hit. He might be an interesting fit for a team mindful of its budget.