Colorado Decides To Keep John-Michael Liles As NHL Trade Deadline Passes

The NHL trade deadline final week will be raucous. Follow here for all the major NHL rumors and trades.

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Colorado Avalanche Keep John-Michael Liles As NHL Trade Deadline Passes

Despite rumors flying at the NHL Trade Deadline, the Colorado Avalanche have decided to keep defenseman John-Michael Liles as the deadline passes without any further action from Colorado.

False reports had Liles, 30, heading to either the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, or the Buffalo Sabres. As more and more trades were announced, no more mentioned Liles as a possible target. The defenseman will stay in Colorado through at least the end of the season.

A Liles trade would have been complicated by the Avalanche hovering near the salary floor, therefore any trade would have required a similar salary to be achieved in return. Avalanche GM Greg Sherman didn’t receive a suitable offer in return for Liles’ services, and he will continue to anchor Colorado’s power play and defensive corps. With the recent addition of Erik Johnson, Liles still holds significant value as a power play quarterback.

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Los Angeles Kings Acquire Dustin Penner From Edmonton Oilers

The Los Angeles Kings have made a splash, acquiring forward Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a first round pick, second round pick, and defenseman Colten Teubert.

Penner, 28, has scored at least 20+ goals in four of the past five seasons and gives the Kings a high caliber goal scorer to pair up with Anze Kopitar. Penner has had a down year for the cellar-dwelling Edmonton Oilers, but could be a difference maker down the stretch for the Kings. Los Angeles also absorbs Penner’s $4.5 million contract for next season as well.

Edmonton not only dumps Penner’s contract, but they also acquire Teubert, 20, a young defenseman prospect with plenty of upside. Teubert has 10 points for the AHL Manchester Monarchs this season and should make his way on the Edmonton roster shortly. He helps the young Oilers get even younger, and gives them some cap flexibility for this offseason to accelerate their rebuild.

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Chicago Acquires Defenseman Campoli From Ottawa For Potulny

The Chicago Blackhawks have finally acquired the defenseman they were seeking, sending forward Ryan Potulny to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Chris Campoli.

Potulny, 26, had a breakout season for the Edmonton Oilers last season, with 32 points in 64 games. He was signed by the Blackhawks this offseason as offensive depth, but has only played in three games this season for Chicago.

Campoli, 26, has been one of the most consistent defensive players for last-place Ottawa this season. He should add depth to a Chicago team that is struggling to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The two teams also exchanged conditional second round picks in the upcoming draft.

With Campoli heading to Chicago, it appears that Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick will remain in Colorado. Hunwick had been rumored as one of Chicago’s top trade targets, but there appears to be no more room for him in the Windy City.

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Phoenix Sends Upshall, Lepisto To Columbus For Klesla

The Phoenix Coyotes have sent fan favorite forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Rostislav Klesla.

In this deal, the two clubs swap defensemen while Columbus acquires some offensive depth in Upshall. The contracts are essentially a cap-neutral trade, as both sides of the transaction total around $3 million, though Phoenix acquires three more full seasons of Klesla.

This trade still leaves open the possibility of Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as rumored. Lepisto doesn’t have the offensive upside that Liles possesses, and the Blue Jackets have plenty of cap space to acquire the $4.2 million contract Liles is owed this year and in 2011-2012.

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Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche End Liles Trade Talks

The long-standing rumored trade talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche for Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles have apparently dissolved.

Toronto GM Brian Burke reportedly offered Colorado GM Greg Sherman a third round selection in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Liles, the 30-year-old defenseman enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.

In an active market for NHL defensemen, a third round selection is a very low bid for Liles, a proven player with substantial offensive ability. Several players have been dealt for a first round selection and a proven NHL player this deadline, and Liles’ ability would require a similar offer.

These rumors show that Burke was never really serious about acquiring Liles, though multiple other teams reportedly have been interested, including the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Several Avalanche Defensemen Targeted Before NHL Deadline

John-Michael Liles isn’t the only Colorado Avalanche defensemen being targeted before the NHL trade deadline. Reports are placing Matt Hunwick and captain Adam Foote as possible targets for playoff teams.

Matt Hunwick is a surprising name on this list. Acquired by the Avalanche in November from the Boston Bruins in exchange for prospect Colby Cohen, Hunwick has had his struggles in an Avalanche sweater. But his play has improved recently, and a quick, puck-moving defenseman is a hot trade target this season. The Chicago Blackhawks are said to be very interested in Hunwick, as they try to improve their squad into playoff contention before the deadline.

Captain Adam Foote is not a surprise, however. The veteran is in the last year of his contract and all signs point toward this being his last NHL season. Injuries have caught up with Foote, limiting his play this season. Still, he is more than capable of adding defensive depth to a contending team such as te Philadelphia Flyers, who have said to be interested in acquiring his services.

Both Hunwick and Foote are free agents at the end of this season, so their services would be nothing more than rentals to contending clubs. If they are traded, you can expect the return to be nothing more than a mid-level draft pick or a fringe prospect. But since the Avalanche are at the salary floor, there would also have to be a player sent to Colorado with a similar 2011 cap hit.

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Panthers Trade Stillman To Carolina For Ryan Carter

Two Southeast Division teams have completed a trade, with the Florida Panthers sending veteran forward Cory Stillman to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for center Ryan Carter and a fifth round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The Florida Panthers are completely out of the playoff picture this season, and have given longtime veteran Stillman, 37, a chance at a playoff run with the Hurricanes. Stillman is still a productive player and should give Carolina some offensive depth entering the playoffs. He is in the final year of his contract, becoming a free agent at the end of the season.

In exchange, the Canes sent Ryan Carter to Florida. Carter started the season as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. In 32 games with Carolina, Carter has tallied only three assists.

This is Stillman’s second run with Carolina. He was a key member of their 2006 Stanley Cup Champion team, and previously won the Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Montreal Acquires Sopel, Dawes From Sinking Atlanta Thrashers

Another trade is in the books on this very busy Thursday, just three full days before the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Atlanta Thrashers, fading from the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, have traded defenseman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for AHL forward Ben Maxwell and a fourth round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Atlanta gets a promising young forward that could immediately slide onto their active roster. At 22, Maxwell has 39 points in 47 games for AHL Hamilton. They also get a fourth round selection in the upcoming draft. As one of the young surprises earlier this season, Atlanta has high hopes for next season. This trade should give them a couple more assets to complete their path towards contention.

Montreal acquires defenseman Brent Sopel for the playoff stretch run. The 34 year old veteran defenseman is +7 for the season and should add some defensive stability behind the fast Canadiens forwards. His $2.33 million contract expires at the end of the season, making him a reasonably priced rental for Montreal. They also acquired 26 year old forward Nigel Dawes, who is currently playing for AHL Chicago. Dawes will also become a free agent at the end of the season. He gives them good forward depth for a playoff run, in case of injury to one of their active forwards.

These two acquisitions essentially use up most of Montreal's remaining cap space. With Dawes in the minors, the Canadiens should have $1.835 million cap hit remaining, giving them some room to add another mid-level piece. They may not be done trading before the deadline.

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John-Michael Liles Trade Rumors Heating Up, Toronto Maple Leafs Involved?

As expected, rumors surround Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles.

Hockeybuzz.com has reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs made an offer on Liles earlier this week, but that offer was rejected by the Colorado front office. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater has mentioned that Liles did not participate in the Avalanche morning skate this morning — a strange development after Liles was benched in Wednesday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

While the rumors continue to surround Liles to Toronto, it’s worth taking a closer look at what package the Leafs could have even offered Colorado. Considering the Avalanche are hovering at the salary floor, they would have to take on an equivalent salary to Liles’ $4.2 million owed this season.

So what kind of package could Toronto even offer? Forward Joffrey Lupul is a good salary match, but his production has not matched his contract and the Avalanche front office has been very reluctant to add players with over two years left on a contract.

Nikolai Kulemin is an option as part of a larger package. Colorado has a need at winger, and Kulemin is a young, talented player with 42 points on the season. Of course, it would be difficult to see Toronto give up such a cost-controlled valuable offensive piece for a 30 year old defenseman. The same could be said for Mikhail Grabovski, a 27 year old forward with similar production (and the last thing Colorado needs right now is another center).

Phil Kessel is out of the question on both sides, though his salary is a good fit. Toronto wouldn’t give him up, and Colorado doesn’t want his long contract.

Toronto is almost certain to offer one of their newly-gained first round draft selections, but they don’t have a good combination of players and contracts that the Avalanche are willing to take on. It’s difficult to project what type of offer was made, but GM Greg Sherman was probably very quick in saying “no”, at least this time.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Obtain Alexei Kovalev From Ottawa For Draft Pick

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to be active before the NHL Trade Deadline on February 28, as they have traded a conditional draft pick for Ottawa Senators forward Alexei Kovalev.

Kovalev, 38, is well past his prime but should still provide some value to a wounded Penguins frontline. He has played in 54 games this season for Ottawa, scoring 14 goals and 27 points for the Senators.

In exchange for Kovalev’s services, Ottawa receives a conditional seventh round selection from Pittsburgh. If the Penguins win their first round playoff series — and Kovalev plays in half of those games — then the pick becomes a sixth round selection in the upcoming draft.

This is a zero risk move for both teams. Ottawa is far out of the playoff picture and needs all the draft selections they can obtain. Pittsburgh gets a veteran presence who could provide some short-term value at very little risk. Kovalev is in the last year of his contract.

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Tampa Bay, Anaheim Swap Goalies Before Deadline

Another day in the NHL, another trade — though this one is much more minor. The Tampa Bay Lightning have swapped goalies with the Anaheim Ducks, sending G Dan Ellis to California in exchange for G Curtis McElhinney.

The Anaheim Ducks have been searching for goalie depth, with starting goaltender Jonas Hiller suffering from chronic dizziness. They signed Ray Emery out of retirement after he expressed interest in making a comeback, and now they have traded for Dan Ellis. Ellis, 30, was a standout with the Nashville Predators before coming to Tampa Bay over the offseason. After a rough start to the season, he lost his starting job when the Lightning traded for New York Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson. Ellis has an .889 SV% this season, far below his career number of .907 SV%. He offers some upside to an Anaheim team fighting for their playoff lives in the Western Conference.

Tampa Bay acquired G Curtis McElhinney from Anaheim. McElhinney, 27, has never had the success that Ellis enjoyed in Nashville, but is several years younger and profiles as an adequate backup for the Lightning. He’s unlikely to see much playing time this season, as Tampa Bay is pushing for the Southeast Division title. His career numbers are unspectacular, sporting a .895 SV% and a 3.22 GAA. He has posted worse numbers this season.

This trade is very reminiscent of the Colorado Avalanche goalie swap with the Ottawa Senators last weekend, when they sent Craig Anderson to Ottawa in exchange for Brian Elliott. The more talented goalie was shipped off for a potential future backup several years younger.

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Avalanche Defenseman John-Michael Liles Trade Rumors Fly

Just like clockwork, the rumors surrounding Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles pick up momentum every single trade deadline. This year is no exception.

With the acquisition of Erik Johnson from the St. Louis Blues, many clubs view Liles, 30, as available for the right price. Monday afternoon, Twitter was filled with false reports that Liles had been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs -- a team that has been high on Liles' skillset for some time. Other sources have reported that Toronto has indeed asked about Liles, but deemed the cost too great.

Just this morning, Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer stated that the Carolina Hurricanes may be a possible destination for Liles.

 

 

Keep an eye on John-Michael Liles. Canes were extremely high on him at one point and he may be available after the Erik Johnson trade.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

 

Liles is under contract through the 2011-2012 season at the reasonable price of $4.2 million. He is currently enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, and may never have higher value in a trade, especially given the market for defenseman this deadline. He would likely bring in a first round pick plus a talented under-25 forward at the very minimum.

At this point, it would be a surprise if Liles stayed with the Avalanche through the deadline on February 28.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Send Alex Goligoski To Dallas Stars for James Neal, Matt Niskanen

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars — two teams desperate for a spark — finalized a trade today that sends forward Alex Goligoski to Dallas in exchange for forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been mired by injuries to their top forwards, with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missing significant time this season. To shore up their offense, they traded for James Neal, 24, who was a second round selection in the 2005 NHL Draft. Neal scored 55 points last season, and is on pace to at least equal that total this year. He gives plenty of offensive upside to a Penguins team in dire need of a goal scorer. Neal is under contract for one more season at $2.875 million before becoming a restricted free agent.

The Penguins also obtained young defenseman Matt Niskanen in this trade. Niskanen, 24, was a first round selection in the 2005 NHL Draft. He is also under control for next year at $1.5 million against the cap. Niskanen has struggled the past couple of seasons on both ends of the ice for Dallas, but still carries significant upside on the defensive end. Pittsburgh is hoping that he can rediscover the offensive touch he displayed his first two seasons in the NHL.

In return, the Dallas Stars receive defenseman Alex Goligoski. Goligoski is a very solid defensive player with a +20 rating on the season. At 25, he is a young, cost-controlled and intelligent player that should help solidify their blue line for the playoffs. Goligoski was a second round selection in the 2004 NHL Draft and is under contract for next season as well.

After the St. Louis BluesColorado Avalanche blockbuster trade over the weekend, this is just another example of teams willing to trade young talent to fill needs within their roster. The Penguins get a talented scorer with upside, and the Stars get a solid defenseman to put them over the edge in the Pacific Division.

For Colorado, the demand for defensemen is at an all-time high. With John-Michael Liles endlessly rumored to be on the trading block, the return for a player of his caliber would be quite substantial. Don’t be surprised to hear more murmurs of Liles on the move to a desperate team on the verge of the playoffs. If he moves, expect substantial talent and picks to be coming back to Colorado. It’s most certainly that kind of market this year.

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