Now that the first bigname player has been dealt on the weekend before the 1 p.m. Tuesday trade deadline – Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis to Atlanta – expect the wheeling and dealing around the NHL to heat up today as the hours tick down.
One of the more active teams should be the Coyotes.
Coach and managing partner Wayne Gretzky indicated last week Phoenix would look to make deals involving forward Owen Nolan and goalie Curtis Joseph, and is aggressively shopping Georges Laraque, who hasn’t been nearly the physical presence the Coyotes want him to be.
Fourth-line center Kevyn Adams, who Phoenix acquired just seven weeks ago from Carolina for defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, is also a strong possibility to be traded as is defenseman Nick Boynton. Adams has drawn interest from Buffalo, where he grew up, and Minnesota.
Nolan is the Coyotes’ most valuable bargaining chip.
He’s 35 but has put up solid numbers (14 goals, 32 points, plus-1) after missing the past two years due to knee injuries, isn’t afraid to mix it up in front of the net and has proven playoff experience (18 goals and 35 points in 58 games).
Anaheim and Detroit were both in on the Tkachuk sweepstakes and may now inquire acquire about Nolan as a cheaper alternative. (Nolan’s salary is $1.2 million; Tkachuk’s is $3.8 million.)
The only drawback is that Nolan has a sore shoulder after falling into the boards Feb. 19 in Nashville. He hasn’t missed any games but has skipped three of the team’s four practices since. If the injury persists, it could be a deal-buster.
Joseph, five wins away from tying Terry Sawchuk for fourth on the all-time wins list, said if he is dealt he would like to end up with a team in playoff contention which would use him as more than just a backup.
Toronto and Montreal make the most sense, but sources close to both teams said trading for Joseph seemed highly unlikely.
Neither Nolan nor Joseph have no-trade clauses, but Gretzky said any deal would require the players’ OK first.
“Out of respect for both of them, we would do nothing that wouldn’t be a benefit not only to us but to them, too,” he said. “They’ve earned that right.”
As for Laraque, two teams from the West and two from the East (believed to be Pittsburgh and Ottawa) have spoken with Phoenix about the 30-year-old enforcer, but Laraque would have to waive his no-trade clause.
“Before I go anywhere I have to talk to the team first to know what my role would be,” said Laraque, who has had only one fight in the past three months.
Should the Coyotes be unable to trade Laraque, he may not wear an NHL game sweater again this season. Laraque said he was told he won’t play another game for the Coyotes and a team source confirmed that.
For now Laraque is still practicing with the club, which would seem to put him in an uncomfortable situation. However, he said he’s fine with it.
“I love the guys. It’s fun to be around them,” Laraque said. “If I was to stay here until the end of the year and not play a game, I’d be okay with it.”
In any deal, the Coyotes are looking for draft picks and/or forward prospects with a lot of offensive upside in return.
“If we’re going to do anything, it’s imperative we do something that helps us for the future,” general manager Mike Barnett said.
They also are believed to be offering package deals which would land them a third first-round pick in the 2007 draft.
“We’ve got two first-round picks for sure,” Gretzky said. “Maybe we’re not done with that.”
Coyotes at Flames
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta
TV: FSN Arizona
Radio: KDUS (1060 AM)
Records: Phoenix 26-32-6, Calgary 32-21-9
Line: Calgary 240-300
Series history: Phoenix has won just one of three meetings this season and trails 60-66-20-0 all-time, including 24-41-9-0 on the road.
Scouting report: Coyotes – Phoenix is coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over Calgary on Thursday which ended a six-game losing streak. Forward Oleg Saprykin has four goals and five points in his past five games. Center Yanic Perreault, who has been nursing a sore shoulder, has failed to record a point in his past five games, his longest drought of the season. The Coyotes’ power play has failed to score in its last 22 chances. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who is on the injured reserve with a groin/abdominal injury, will meet with a specialist in Philadelphia today and may require season-ending surgery.
Flames – Calgary is coming off a 7-4 victory over San Jose but has won just three of its past 10 games. The Flames, though, are a league best 25-6-1 at home, including 11-1-1 in their past 13. Jarome Iginla, who leads the team with 30 goals and 71 points, scored his 315th career goal Saturday, moving past Joe Nieuwendyk into second place on the Flames’ alltime list behind only Theo Fleury (364). Forward David Moss (upper body) is day-to-day; forwards Chuck Kobasew (fractured elbow) and Darren McCarty (sports hernia), and defenseman Richie Regehr (concussion-like symptoms) are on injured reserve.