Coyotes blueliners coveted

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Slowly, but surely, the NHL trade winds are starting to pick up speed.

The Philadelphia Flyers are the latest team to be eyeing the Phoenix Coyotes' blue line and in particular Derek Morris, who is making $3.9 million (all terms US) this year and $3.95 million next year.

Despite a good start to the season, the Flyers and GM Paul Holmgren are determined to modify their lineup. The team feels like it has a shot at the title this year if it can just add a few more pieces to the puzzle.

The Flyers, however, aren't the only one salivating over the Coyotes' blue line.

While the Boston Bruins also placed a call to Coyotes GM Don Maloney about Morris, the New York Rangers, as reported in this space last week, are hoping to land D Ed Jovanovski.

That deal, however, has been held up for various reasons, including Jovanovski's no-movement clause and the $6.5-million pricetag.

Meanwhile, despite Thrashers GM Don Waddell claim yesterday that "there's no panic from this end," sources say he's been on the phone trying to find a blueliner and a No. 1 centre because Todd White and Bobby Holik don't fit the bill.

Stay tuned.

SLAP SHOTS

In light of the recent gambling scandal with Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet and NBA referee Tim Donaghy, the NHL isn't taking any chances. Apparently, NHL referees, who used to receive their assignments a month in advance, aren't being told where they're working until two weeks ahead of time .... A big reason former Senators GM John Muckler didn't get the consultant's job with the Maple Leafs: His first suggestion was to give GM John Ferguson Jr. a contract extension. That didn't sit well with president Richard Peddie .... Former NHLPA president Trevor Linden told the Philadelphia Inquirer he supports the NHL going back to a schedule with matchups between the East and West. "After having seen a divisional-loaded schedule, I think it is easy to come to thought that it is better to have inter-conference," said Linden. "For hockey astute markets such as Philadelphia, certainly for Canadian fans, they want to see the players. They want to see Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, (Simon) Gagne and (Daniel) Briere."

OFF THE GLASS

People are waiting with bated breath to see what's going to happen with the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning to a group led by former Columbus Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean. He announced in August his group was buying the franchise from owner Bill Davidson, but has yet to put together his financing for the $200-million purchase price. Davidson wasn't actively seeking to sell the franchise, but couldn't resist the offer by MacLean's group. If this falls apart, and there's a chance that could happen, it doesn't reflect well on MacLean, nor NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "None of these deals to buy teams should be announced until they're a done deal," said a league executive. Craig Leopold, the owner of the Nashville Predators, has been looking to sell his franchise to a group of local investors, who have until Oct. 31 to complete the sale after putting down a $10-million deposit in August on a $193-million offer. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie saw his $220-million offer fall through earlier this year after he tried to move the team to Hamilton, but has renewed his interest in purchasing the club ... Will the Thrashers be moving RW Marian Hossa at the deadline if they aren't going to make the playoffs? The sniper will be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer and the club hasn't agreed to an extension with the 28-year-old. There were whispers at last June's entry draft he would be moved. Hossa, apparently, is in no hurry to sign.

RUMOURS

Anybody wondering why D Danny Markov is still looking for a contract? Well, one problem might be the fact he's seeking $3.5 million per season ... Avalanche GM Francois Giguere tried to move struggling G Jose Theodore in the off-season, but nobody wants to touch the former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner's $6-million salary. The only option could be to get him playing well and see if there's a market. Otherwise, the Avs could toy with the thought of sending Theodore down to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland, then recalling him to see if anybody would be willing to grab him on re-entry waivers at half price ... This is no surprise: The Devils are trying to move veteran D Richard Matvichuk, who is making $1.368 million this season. They hope to have a deal done by tomorrow ... There's plenty of talk the Panthers wouldn't like to move D Mike Van Ryn. He's been a healthy scratch lately while taking home $3.2 million this season ... The Oilers have an interest in Columbus tough guy Jody Shelley, who has been a healthy scratch of late ... The Hurricanes won't be dealing LW Cory Stillman. He has a "no movement" clause and is a key to their success. Another name to cross off the list if RW Erik Cole, who has been mentioned a lot in trade rumours. He has been on fire this season. Speaking of Carolina, GM Jim Rutherford might go looking for a blueliner at the Feb. 26 trade deadline ... Los Angeles Kings coach Marc Crawford is under pressure to get his club out of the doldrums. The Kings can't afford to have another year like last season, when they finished just one point ahead of the worst team in the Western Conference -- the Coyotes -- with their 27-41-14 record. Of course, the Kings could do Crawford a favour and bring him in a stable, proven goalie ... One GM on the lack of trades: "Nobody makes them anymore. You've got to give up cash to get rid of cash and it's usually not worth the risk. I talk, and talk, and talk, and it usually leads nowhere."

Have a nice Sunday.


Videos

Photos