Olympic break creates two trade deadlines

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
1:25
PM ET
In some ways, there are two trade deadlines this season.

There's the real trade deadline, March 5 at 3 p.m. ET, but there's also the pre-trade deadline on Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. ET. That's when a trade freeze goes into effect for the Olympic break and doesn't thaw until 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 23.

That leaves 10 days after the Olympics for teams to get their shopping done. The question is whether some clubs are going to want to make their move before Sochi instead.

That's just what Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford did in 2005-06, acquiring veteran center Doug Weight before the Torino Olympics break in order to beat out the other teams lining up to bid on the prized rental player after the Games. Weight was a solid addition to a team that would end up winning the Stanley Cup.

"I think teams would like to do what we did with Weight. He was the No. 1 targeted guy that year, and we jumped in early," Rutherford told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "But with teams being so tight under the cap this year, it's probably going to make it more difficult. Because the players those teams want to pick up this year, they're going to need the other team to eat up a bit of cap space to fit them in.

"If they can do it, most teams would like to [make their move before the Olympic break]."

The tough part in adding a player before the break is that a team is carrying his salary and cap hit while he's not playing for two weeks. The flip side is that a team is not scrambling in those final 10 days after the Olympics to make sure it gets the player it wants.

Interesting decision, no doubt.

"It's hard to say what's going to happen with so many teams on LTIR," Penguins GM Ray Shero told ESPN.com on Tuesday, referring to another unique factor for this season. More than a dozen teams are using long-term injured reserve to be over the cap because of injuries, in part because the salary cap went down $6 million last summer. That leaves very little room to maneuver.

Case in point are the Penguins, who everybody expects to replace Pascal Dupuis, who's out for the season. But it's not as if Dupuis' $3.75 million cap hit is $3.75 million of cap space Shero can just easily replace dollar for dollar.

It's more complicated than that. With all the injuries the Penguins have had this season, they've used up some of that cap space just to fill roster spots vacated by injured players. Of course, Shero will look at what's out there on the market in terms of finding a winger, but it's a complicated, delicate salary-cap dance unless it's a pure hockey deal -- dollar for dollar.

Canucks' trade wish
The Vancouver Canucks got defenseman Alexander Edler back Monday night, and winger Alex Burrows and netminder Roberto Luongo are close to returning as well. It's beginning to come together for them roster-wise.

But will they add to it?

If it's doable, the word on the street is that the Canucks would like to add a center before the trade deadline or, if not a center, a top-nine winger. But preferably a center, I think. Brad Richardson has been terrific as a No. 3 center for the Canucks, but I suspect they feel if they can have him centering the No. 4 line and upgrade the No. 3 center spot, they would feel better about their playoff chances.

If there's no fit, keeping Richardson in the No. 3 hole and upgrading the No. 4 center job is another option.

The Canucks are deep on defense throughout the organization, and that's the carrot they're willing to put out there if they can help themselves in a meaningful way up front.

The life of Briere
Veteran winger Daniel Briere has been terrific since being reinserted into the Montreal Canadiens lineup.

Trade rumors were flying after he was a healthy scratch during the holidays, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that he didn't sign in Montreal as a veteran free agent last summer to watch games from the press box. So, no, he wasn't happy.

But he's had an impact since returning to the lineup, and that situation seems to have settled down for now.

What also helped, a source told ESPN.com, is a conversation Briere had with GM Marc Bergevin, reassuring him of his role and value to the team. Credit goes as well to coach Michel Therrien, who found a role that worked for Briere.

With forward Alex Galchenyuk injured and sidelined for six weeks, Briere should have a chance at regular ice time.

Maurice will let results speak
An interesting note to the Paul Maurice hiring in Winnipeg is that all he's agreed to is a contract for the rest of the season.

Maurice and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff agreed they would circle back, but all Maurice is guaranteed at this point is to coach through April.

"It shows you how much confidence he has in his ability," Cheveldayoff said. "It tells you something about him."

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