SUN Hockey Pool

Oil prices could be slashed

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:37 AM ET

Steve Tambellini is under the gun.

The Oilers GM is desperate to make moves with his team mired in last place in the Western Conference.

And donít be surprised if Tambellini is one of the biggest wheelers and dealers before the March 3 NHL trade deadline.

The Oilers are willing to move just about anybody on their roster as things have gone from bad to worse since goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmontonís big off-season free-agent signing, went down with a back injury.

Forwards Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson and Ethan Moreau are on the market.

They arenít alone, either. The Oilers also want to shed big salary and would gladly deal blueliners Sheldon Souray ($5.4 million all terms US) and Steve Staios ($2.75 million).

Finding a trading partner will be difficult for Tambellini, who couldnít have foreseen his teamís massive fall down the standings.

Now, he has to find a way out.

OFF THE GLASS

The next Winter Classic wonít be announced until the summer, but thereís a chance the New Yearís Day event will be held in the Twin Cities, possibly at the TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Since the Wild isnít exactly a huge attraction, itís expected Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will be the opponent. A second game in conjunction with Hockey Day in Canada could be held in Toronto.

The Blues sent D Alex Pietrangelo back to the OHL after the world junior championship, which may have come as a surprise. Sources say this decision was made because the Blues want to save on Pietrangeloís $875,000 salary.

AROUND THE BOARDS

All eyes are on Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, but the talk is a decision on whether he stays with the Blue Jackets wonít be made by GM Scott Howson. Instead, it will be team president Mike Priest who will decide.

Sources say the players wouldnít mind if a coaching change was made and that the dressing room is a mess. Letís face it: Hitchcock has a shelf life, but the Jackets shouldnít worry because somebody will pick up the remainder of his contract if heís fired. Top guess is that heíll land in St. Louis.

The Bruins gave RW Miroslav Satan a no-movement clause on the one-year, pro-rated $700,000 deal he signed last week.

Sources say the Flyers are looking for help in the net because theyíre not convinced that G Ray Emery is the answer. Canadiens GM Bob Gainey asked for C Jeff Carter in return for G Jaroslav Halak before the Christmas break, but Gaineyís demands are expected to change so a deal can get done.

There has been talk the Rangers are going to place D Wade Redden on waivers and then send him to the their AHL affiliate in Hartford. There is nothing to stop the Rangers from doing that because Redden has a limited no-trade clause, but he doesnít have a restrictive no-movement clause. Signed to a six-year, $39-million deal on July 1, 2007, the Rangers have tried to deal Redden, but havenít been able to find any takers. Even if New York GM Glen Sather did want to deal Redden, heíd have to get a list from the defenceman of eight teams where he doesnít want to go.

RUSSIAN AROUND

NHL GMs are salivating as they wait for the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes to begin.

While Thrashers GM Don Waddell hasnít given up hope of signing the potential unrestricted free-agent winger, thereís a strong belief that Kovalchuk wonít re-sign in Atlanta and will be dealt by the March 3 NHL trade deadline.

Sources say the two sides arenít making any progress, with Kovalchuk seeking a 10-year, $100-million US deal, and demanding assurances that the Thrashers are going to be contenders if he returns.

If a contract isnít completed soon, Waddell is going to have to put him on the trade block or risk losing him for nothing in free agency.

The talk is the team that will make the most aggressive push is the Capitals, who took $2 million off the books when they dealt former captain Chris Clark to Columbus during the holidays.

Sure, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Colorado will all make calls on Kovalchuk, but Washington has the ability to bring him in as a rental because it has room under the salary cap and GM George McPhee can offer up prospects and draft picks.

ďThey want to make it happen,Ē said one insider.

GOALIE SHUFFLES

There could be a lot of goaltending movement before the NHL trade deadline.

While Martin Biron officially hit the market with Rick DiPietro back with the Islanders, the veteran netminder isnít the only one available and Bironís future could largely depend on what happens with Montrealís Jaroslav Halak.

No, Halak never officially requested a trade from the Habs, but sources say he told GM Bob Gainey heíd like the chance to be a No. 1 goalie. That means Biron could be forced to wait until Halakís situation is settled.

With G Marty Turco set to become a UFA in July, the Stars will be looking for a goalie. They were interested in Biron, but might prefer Halak because heís shown when give the chance, he can be a difference maker.

Have a nice Sunday.


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