Walking Toward the Deadline

The NHL trade deadline looms large this week, although it could end up passing very quietly.

In the East, the only team currently more than four points out of the playoff chase is the Florida Panthers, and in the West, the logjam pretty much includes all but the Avalanche (8 points back) and the Flames (6 points out).

In addition, you wonder if realignment might have a dampening effect, as teams could be wary of trading with both teams who stand in the way of their playoff hopes this year and equally loathe to move a player to a team they’ll face repeatedly next year.

As far as the Blue Jackets are concerned, the Dispatch has two stories on the trade deadline today.

In one, Aaron Portzline says there could be a market for CBJ goalie Steve Mason, and he points out that…

“Philadelphia was kicking the Blue Jackets’ tires for Mason even before it traded Jeff Carter to Columbus two summers ago.”

In another, Portzline writes about the fact that teams could have an interest in Columbus forward Vinny Prospal. Prospal, however, has significant say in his future due to a no-move clause in his contract.

“Asked whether he has talked with Davidson or Kekalainen regarding his future, Prospal would not comment.”

Adrian Aucoin could be shopped, and his response to that was–as is usually the case with Aucoin–highly entertaining.

Finally, the Edmonton Journal speculates that with former Jackets GM Scott Howson now working for the Oilers, they could end up as a logical trading partner. As for which player makes sense in a potential deal?

“R.J. Umberger…is an interesting possibility. Picked three spots after Ales Hemsky, Umberger has evolved into a useful and versatile secondary scorer. He can play centre or left wing; in the pivot position he has won exactly 50.0% of the 2000+ faceoffs he’s taken over the last five seasons. He plays on both special teams, and has experience playing tough competition at even-strength. He’s recorded between 20 and 26 goals in each of the last four seasons, and 40-57 points in each of the last five. He adds size too, listed at 6’2”, 220 pounds and while not a bruiser does hit.

“The problem is Umberger’s contract.”

The paper goes on to suggest that the Blue Jackets could absorb some of Umberger’s salary to make a deal more feasible, a move that is allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement.

UPDATE: Here’s the list of scouts who are scheduled to be in attendance this evening.

Ducks Director of Pro Scouting: Dave Baseggio
Kings Senior Pro Scout: Rob Laird
Rangers Pro Scout: Rick Kehoe
Sharks Pro Scout: Dirk Graham
Devils Pro Scout: Bob Hoffmeyer
Penguins Director of Player Personnel: Dan MacKinnon
Senators Pro Scout: Jim Clark


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