So far, so good (cont.)
Posted: Thursday January 31, 2008 5:26PM; Updated: Friday February 1, 2008 12:15PM
The Sundin saga continues
There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Toronto captain Mats Sundin will or remove his no-trade clause at the deadline and give Leafs management an opportunity to move him for prospects and/or draft picks. Understand this: when it's all sorted out, Sundin will do what is right for both him and the Leafs and that is allowing the team to make a deal as long as he approves of the ultimate destination. Sundin, his agent, and new Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher are already exploring those options.
Sundin the Shark?
Lots of trade rumors out there, but it seems likely that the San Jose Sharks will rise above the talk and walk the walk. The Sharks are good, but they struggle to beat Western Conference teams like Anaheim and Detroit in San Jose (0-7-1 in games against those teams before the All-Star break). The big need is for a second-line center behind Joe Thornton. Patrick Marleau is not filling that role. He's struggling offensively and is among the league's worst players on the plus-minus charts (-19 through Wednesday night).
Sundin would be a great fit there and the Sharks have the picks, prospects and room under the cap to make it happen, but if it's not Sundin, they will keep looking. The Sharks are essentially the same team they were last season and that's not good enough to be the best in the West.
Dropping like flies
The race for the Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) likely will go not to the best scorer in the game, but the best one left standing at the conclusion of the regular season. Sidney Crosby went down last week with a high ankle sprain and will be out six to eight weeks. Daniel Alfredsson, who grabbed the lead just before the All-Star break, has come up with a hip problem. On Wednesday, night Ilya Kovalchuk was taken out by what looked like an intentional knee-on-knee hit. Kovalchuk, who was suspended for one game last week for a similar hit, was felled by Jarkko Ruutu of the Penguins. Look for Ruttu, the player who was stomped by Islanders forward Chris Simon earlier this season, to get a supplemental discipline suspension Thursday or Friday.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly downplayed any problems about NHL Players Association boss Kelly and the announcement of NHL games in Europe to open next season. Kelly put a pall on the announcement at the All-Star Game by saying the players hadn't signed off yet, but Daly on Wednesday said he didn't expect a long-term problem.
Reports circulating around the league claim that Kelly is under some pressure to show resistance to the NHL and that things between him and Bettman have been a little too chummy for some PA hardliners. There is truth to that, but it won't stop the games from being played in Stockholm and Prague.
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