Every Monday, the FTR crew will review the biggest hockey news from the past week.
-The Olympic Break is upon us -- how much does the two weeks off affect momentum?
Mike: I'm guessing that the break will be like hitting a big "reset" button on teams -- except that teams come to this with pre-set standings. Most of the league will be rested with additional time to heal injuries while the elite players will be battling some level of fatigue from essentially plaing a playoff series. Positive and negative momentum should be nullified, and teams will even have a mini-camp to get them back on their feet. In short, don't look too much into how your team was doing when the league paused because it won't necessarily be the same way they react when things get unfrozen.
Joe F: The two weeks off are both good and bad, depending on the team. If your team is playing really well, then you are not very happy with the timing of this break, but if your team is playing poor then you are probably welcoming the break. But at the same time good teams overcome situations like this so we will see.
FrankD: It certainly affects it, but depending on where teams stands heading into the break this could be a good thing. Personally, I see this as a good chance for some guys to heal up, kick back and relax a bit before the season returns and teams start making some serious push for playoff spots. The guys that aren't competing in the Olympics that is. For the ones who are, good luck and stay healthy. The first guy to get injured will surely be on the receiving end of nagging criticisms.
Bob: It will probably affect momentum significantly. Several players are traveling and taking vacations during the time off. Will they be able to jump right back into things, mentally and physically?
Cory Lavalette: I think it will play a big role, but more emotionally than physically. It will be difficult for a lot of players to come off of the high from playing such pressure-packed games to finishing up the regular season. For teams like Detroit, it could be beneficial because it will put a lot of their players in playoff mode for the stretch run.-There's only a few days between the "unfreezing" of the rosters and the trade deadline once the Olympics finish. With Phaneuf, Giguere, and Kovalchuk already moved, how many big deals are left?
Mike: You can bet that GMs will talk during these two weeks, and there are still plenty of guys to fill second-tier and support roles. We saw Matt Cullen and Cam Barker move before the freeze, and Carolina's Ray Whitney will most certainly be gone. Edmonton will clean house, we know Florida wants to move pieces, Toronto isn't shy about stirring the pot; from St. Louis's veterans like Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk to Edmonton's overpaid checking veterans, there will be plenty of movement. You just won't necessarily get the "wow" factor of the Phaneuf deal.
Joe F: You would have to think that Souray, Whitney, and Tkachuk will be traded. But at this point you will probably see teams looking to make what they like to call "character moves" to help them for their run, but I agree with Mike we won't see any more "wow" trades this deadline.
FrankD: Seems like sentiment shared in the previous comments is universal here. I don't see anymore blockbuster trades or "wow" trades before or during the trade deadline. Now's the time where teams may pick up that veteran guy for the locker room or maybe add a depth guy that allows for some line juggling, but for the most part the big moves are likely done.
Bob: There will be movement, but most of the big names are already gone. Although the upcoming Ray Whitney trade looks very interesting because of his "no-trade" clause and the way he seems to be using it to get a contract extension. Other players and their agents will be watching this very closely as it brings more value than ever to getting this clause in future negotiations.
Cory Lavalette: I think there will be typical movement on deadline day — a couple big moves and a lot of role players moving around to fill needs among the playoff contenders. The most interesting situation may be with goalies: will Marty Turco go somewhere? What about the tandem in Montreal?
-If Canada "only" gets a silver or bronze medal, can it really be deemed a failure when you look at the quality of the other teams?
Mike: I understand the pressure that the Canadians are under, since it's on home ice and they're still stinging from the WJC loss. Still, single-game eliminations mean that anything can happen. If the Canadians played the Americans in the quarterfinals and Ryan Miller had the game of his life, is that an upset? In the Stanley Cup playoffs, we all acknowledge the level of parity that keeps the top seed and the eighth seed relatively close. You're seeing that as well in the Olympics, and anyone that deems a non-gold finish for the Canadian team a failure is missing the big picture about depth in international hockey.
Joe F: I think that the Canadian fans would deem it as a failure if Canada doesn't take the gold, but there is just so much pressure on the Canadians with the games being held in Vancouver. While Canada does have the most talented roster, it wouldn't surprise me if they don't take the gold.
FrankD: As any hockey fan knows, there's always the chance of an upset. Canada is obviously the heavy favorite in these games not only because of the quality of the roster but also because they are playing on behalf of the host country. Silver may not be perceived as a failure in the eyes of many, but Canadians likely don't feel comfortable settling for anything less than gold.
Bob: If Team Canada does not win gold, it should not be looked upon as a failure, but it will be by many Canadians. They have a lot of talent, but so do the teams from other countries and as others have said, anything can happen in these games. Great goaltending can steal a gold medal.
Cory Lavalette: It would be a huge failure. Even after Canada's squad was chosen, there was talk about how they could easily field two teams that could compete for gold. Much like the World Juniors, Canada's expectations are — justifiably — high. Failure to win gold on home ice would be viewed as a big disappointment and, ultimately, failure.
-Giguere and Lehtonen have moved. Marty Turco's on the block. There are two goalies in Nashville and Montreal. Which on-the-block goalie goes to a playoff team?
Mike: And don't forget Tomas Vokoun, who looks like he'll waive his no-trade. Chicago needs goaltending but they are limited in their cap maneuverability. Philly seems ripe for a move with the Ray Emery injury, and perhaps the Red Wings will want someone besides Chris Osgood as insurance for Jimmy Howard. By and large, though, I think supply outweighs demand for goalies this year. It'd make more sense for most teams just wait till free agency to evaluate how they want to move going forward.
Joe F: I will agree that supply heavily outweighs demand, and personally I am curious to see where Turco goes. Also don't count the Rangers out for a team who might be looking for a vet to back up Henrik Lundqvist.
FrankD: Good question. I guess another consideration is whether or not certain teams already in the hunt (Nashville and Montreal) are comfortable banking their run on just one of those guys. It may not make sense to hold on to both if they can trade them away for a guy who may add a punch to another position, but it may also be a bit risky to only hinge the remainder of the season on one guy as well. I say if a playoff contender wants one of those guys, they'll find a way to get em.
Bob: I'm still not convinced that Washington or Chicago can win the Cup with their current goaltending situations, but Philadelphia is also in need. I think someone will take a flyer on Turco because he is easily obtainable. But that doesn't mean he is the answer either.
Cory Lavalette: This is the most intriguing situation for me heading into the deadline. I could see Turco going somewhere, but his cap hit could prevent many teams from being in the running. Even though they're only four points out of a playoff spot, St. Louis could make the surprise move and ship out Chris Mason. If he were made available, the Blues could get a nice return and Ty Conklin still gives them a shot at squeaking into the postseason.
-Two old-school enforcers in Georges Laraque and Donald Brashear are on their way out. Is there still a place for guys like this in today's NHL?
Mike: The thing with enforcers is that they need to be able to chip in in other ways. Have you see the faceoff percentage of a guy like Tampa's Zenon Konopka? Otherwise, they become dead cap space when a younger, cheaper guy can fulfill that role (see San Jose's recent trade of Jody Shelley; young Brad Staubitz an easily fulfill Shelley's duties). I don't think the role of the enforcer is necessarily being phased out. Rather, I think they've got a much shorter shelf life. Most NHL players can go until their mid-30s, but I think veteran enforcers will be out the door by 30, as young guys in the system can always take their place.
Joe F: Yes, but the guys also have to be able to play hockey. Make sure to tune into Rink Side Radio this week (Feb 15th) (Monday nights 9-10 EST) where Brandon and I will debate ths.
FrankD: I think the enforcer still has a place in the league but probably not for the $1.5 mill a year that Brash and Laraque were receiving this year. That's a significant amount of money to consider dishing out to a guy who, come playoff time, will spend more time watching from the crowd than sitting on the bench.
Bob: Until the league reverses the instigator rule, the reality is that these guys are wasted space. Teams can't afford to be killing penalties all game long and these guys can't do any true enforcing with the rules the way they currently are.
Cory Lavalette: Only if you can play. I think the days of the fight-only fourth-liner are gone. After the lockout, there was a trend that led many team to drop players like Brashear and Laraque. Anaheim's Cup victory — which occurred, in part, due to team toughness — brought the enforcer back, but teams are again finding they're better served having a specialty player in the lineup than a fighter. Why would you pick a fighter over a good penalty killer or shootout specialist? Expect middleweights to replace the old-style goons when it comes to fighting.