Supply won't feed deadline demand

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Too many teams in the NHL playoff race means not enough players will be available at this year's trade deadline.

With a little more than two weeks to the March 4 deadline, only Toronto, Atlanta, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and the Islanders appear to be out of the chase.

In the Western Conference, all 15 teams still have a realistic chance of making it to the post-season, with only 10 points separating fifth place to 15th as of yesterday.

The closest teams to being sellers in the West would be the Blues and Avalanche.

What it all means is that buyers will have to pay a premium to land the players they want.

"There's just no sense of urgency right now," a league executive said yesterday. "That will go up as the deadline approaches, but it might take until a week before and that's when teams will start giving their best offers."

Off the glass

The Penguins want to re-sign RW Petr Sykora, a pending unrestricted free agent this off-season, and it's believed that discussions have begun. Sykora has developed a strong chemistry with C Evgeni Malkin this season. Sykora, who had 19 goals and 21 assists in 53 games heading into play last night, is making $2.5 million (all terms US) this season ... A trade the Ducks are glad they didn't make: The club couldn't give away RW Bobby Ryan at the start of the season and former GM Brian Burke tried. Now, the Ducks consider him part of their future. Ryan has 18 goals and 17 assists in 39 games this season ... The Blackhawks are continuing to talk contract with RW Martin Havlat to try to get a deal done before the deadline. Havlat, who is making $6 million this season, can become a UFA on July 1. The sides have discussed a long-term contract to keep Havlat in Chicago. Havlat wants to stay. "The guys are great. We're one of the youngest teams in the league and there are guys who are only going to get better and better," Havlat told a Chicago newspaper. "We still have 30 games left in the regular season. My goal is to play in the playoffs this year." If he's dealt at the deadline, watch for Habs GM Bob Gainey to make a pitch.

Around the boards

The Bruins are believed to be looking for help on the blue line at the deadline. But it's doubtful they'll be getting Anaheim D Chris Pronger because they simply can't afford his $6.5-million contract. Boston has other areas it would like to address before spending that kind of money. ... An NHL executive says he believes the Panthers "have to trade" D Jay Bouwmeester at the deadline. The club would likely get a roster player, prospect and a first-round pick in return. The Flyers, Blackhawks, Oilers, Rangers and Devils are all interested ... It's believed the Flyers are interested in Ottawa D Anton Volchenkov, but the Senators have no interest in moving a player they consider a cornerstone ... A player to keep an eye on is Buffalo C Tim Connolly. He is having a tremendous season in his latest return from a concussion, but is nowhere close to a deal with the Sabres. If Connolly doesn't reach a deal by the deadline, Sabres GM Darcy Regier will consider dealing him rather than losing him for nothing in free agency ... Any truth to the talk the Coyotes have been offering C Olli Jokinen, D Derek Morris and D Ed Jovanovski around the league? They claim they aren't doing it for financial reasons. Yeah, sure.

Have a nice Sunday.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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