Here are 16 quick thoughts I have about the NHL this week: [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=ilya+kovalchuk&iid=7511429″ src=”3/0/d/0/New_York_Rangers_a614.jpg?adImageId=9643682&imageId=7511429″ width=”234″ height=”275″ /]
1) Don’t think the Washington Capitals will want to make a pitch for Iyla Kovalchuk? They have only $38 million tied up in salary next season, and only have Nick Backstrom as a major free agent player to sign. Imagine a powerplay with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, Semin and Kovalchuk. They’d be unstoppable. It also wouldn’t matter if they signed all their cash in a few guys, because they all like to take five-minute shifts. This team could be the first one of the modern era to only roll three lines. They could run a promotion where three lucky fans get to sit on the bench every game as a fourth liner and not actually play. Or as Georges Laraque calls it, a normal hockey game.
2) It will be interesting to see if players on the Russian team spend part of the Olympics trying to convince Kovalchuk to sign there. He’ll be surrounded by Malkin, Ovechkin and Gonchar and other NHLers. How many of them put a bug in his ear about how their respective cities are great places to play?
3) Is there any one besides the players who think no trade movements are a good idea? Teams don’t like them, general managers don’t like them and the fans certainly don’t like them. They’ve hampered a lot of teams (Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa are just three examples). [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=brian+elliott&iid=7615914″ src=”0/8/2/e/St_Louis_Blues_77af.jpg?adImageId=9643845&imageId=7615914″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]
4) Why did the Sens bother to go out and get Pascal Leclaire last year when Brian Elliott was playing well? And now that Leclaire has been injured several times, Elliott has stepped forward… again! Isn’t it time to announce the inevitable: that Elliott should be the #1 guy in Ottawa?
5) Flames general manager Darryl Sutter is denying rumours that he’s trading Dion Phaneuf. But would a GM ever come out and say they were going to trade someone, unless that guy asked for a trade?
6) A lot of Habs fans are saying that while Price is the goalie of the future, they need to have Jaroslav Halak as the #1. I disagree with that. If Carey Price is your go-to guy, then he’s got to get the bulk of the starts. What good will Price be if he doesn’t get a high amount of starts? [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=claude+julien&iid=7451903″ src=”5/b/4/5/2010_Bridgestone_Winter_4498.jpg?adImageId=9643890&imageId=7451903″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]
7) Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has given a vote of confidence to head coach Claude Julien. Take the under of five weeks before Julien is fired.
8 ) Where will Kovalchuk end up? For some reason, I’m guessing the Pens. They like to make a big splash at the trade deadline. Maybe Kunitz, another players, picks and a prospect or seven.
9) The Habs won’t make the playoffs this year. Too many teams (two point separate eight teams fighting for three playoff spots), and the Habs haven’t been consistent all year. Plus, because of their cap space, they can’t afford to do anything major. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=montreal+canadiens&iid=7709187″ src=”f/f/a/b/Montreal_Canadiens_v_7820.jpg?adImageId=9643903&imageId=7709187″ width=”234″ height=”163″ /]
10) With so many teams fighting for so few playoff spots, a couple of them will have to realize they’ll be sellers this year. Besides Montreal (who doesn’t have a lot of value for trades), I think the Rangers will also be looking to sell at the deadline.
11) Best dark horse for buyers? The New York Islanders. They’re hoping to make the playoffs for only the second time in five years (and remember, they traded a lot for Ryan Smyth a couple of years back). They’ve got a good young team, and a round of playoff experience (even a big loss) can do wonders for a team. Just ask the Penguins. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=peter+mueller&iid=7430019″ src=”7/8/8/8/Anaheim_Ducks_v_66cc.jpg?adImageId=9643924&imageId=7430019″ width=”234″ height=”346″ /]
12) Darren Dreger of TSN says Peter Mueller may be traded. After a 22-goal, 54-point rookie season a couple of years back, he has suffered horribly, as did many young players under coach Gretzky. Maybe the Great One quitting the team back in training camp was actually the best thing to happen to the Coyotes.
13) Someone will take a chance on Mueller. As Latendresse and Pouillot proved earlier this year, a change of scenery can do wonders for a young hockey player.
14) The Sharks may have the best record in the league right now, but they still need a top-six forward with Stanley Cup experience for the playoffs. Who fits that mould? Ray Whitney. Would the Canes accept Ryan Clowe or a Devin Setoguchi for him?
15) Don’t believe Sheldon Souray will wind up with the Kings at all. L.A. already has good young defencemen in Johnson and Doughty, and bringing in a guy for their powerplay will only hurt their development.