<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders

Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs


It’s official: there’s no such thing as a contract that cannot be traded.

In what will probably be the most unlikely trade of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs unloaded David Clarkson’s contract to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nathan Horton, who appears to be on the verge of retirement.

Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen already provided a quote for the team’s release, in case you need evidence that you’re not dreaming.

“David Clarkson has been a 30-goal scorer in the NHL who will bring added character and leadership to our group and we believe he will be a valuable contributor to our team,” Kekalainen said. “While we are excited to welcome David to the Blue Jackets, it is also difficult that Nathan’s time here has ended prematurely due to his injury situation. He is a tremendous person and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that this was a straight player-for-player trade with no money retained by either side.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that it ultimately comes down to pure dollars: the Leafs can afford to pay Horton to not play (thus saving cap space with him on LTIR), while Columbus needs that money to go to someone who’s on the ice. Here are more details from McKenzie:

David Clarkson carries a $4.75 million cap hit along with the following salary breakdown:

Meanwhile, Nathan Horton’s salary looks like this ($6 million cap hit):

Despite this being a huge deal, it apparently got rolling very quickly.

The jokes have been fast and furious, with a ton of praise for Leafs GM Dave Nonis.

Blackhawks deny rumors of locker room fight

Ottawa Senators v Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are battling the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but many wonder if they’re also battling each other. If something happened, key figures in the organization are quick to deny it.

Head coach Joel Quenneville said that word of a locker room fist fight is “all news” to him, according to CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers. Myers passes along word from a source that said there’s “no truth” to the rumors.

It sounds like it’s already becoming a running joke among team members, as the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc reports:

Publicly, it seems like the team is bottling this up, but the only people who know what happened for certain were in the Blackhawks locker room.

The good news might just be that the team won’t have to linger on any issues – if there are any – as their plate is pretty full. They’re working to integrate Teuvo Teravainen into the Patrick Kane-less lineup and might make some significant moves as the trade deadline approaches.

One might wonder if they’ll take whatever issues out on Alex Petrovic tonight, even if Quenneville (sort of) denies it.

NHL on NBCSN: Caps aim for season series sweep vs. Pens

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

As far as the Penguins – Capitals rivalry goes, it seemed like Pittsburgh had the upper hand for a significant stretch of time, but now Washington is in charge.

If the Capitals win in regulation on “Rivalry Night” tonight, they’ll take all eight possible standings points from this season series, while Pittsburgh would end up with nothing.

Here’s a quick look at the previous three games in this season series:

Feb. 17: Washington 3, Pittsburgh 1
Jan. 28: Washington 4, Pittsburgh 0
Dec. 27: Washington 3, Pittsburgh 0

Yikes, that’s a 10-1 total score, too.

As much as these games are about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin vs. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby’s been the clear story in 2014-15, as Pittsburgh’s only managed to score once against him in three games.

This game means more than a series sweep, though.

If Washington manages to win in regulation, they’d push Pittsburgh into the wild card and take the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Seeding is very much up for grabs at this point in the season, really.

As an added bonus, both teams seem to come into this game with solid momentum. The Penguins have won two games in a row by a combined score of 9-3 while Washington just saw a four-game winning streak end on Sunday.

This rivalry will probably be worth watching until its biggest stars fade, but even with that in mind, the significant playoff implications should make Wednesday’s game that much more entertaining.

It sounds like Wisniewski is doing his best to stay in Columbus

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders

Every sign points to the Columbus Blue Jackets wanting to trade James Wisniewski, but the defenseman is doing what he can to avoid such a fate, as the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports.

The 31-year-old is cleverly trying to use his 10-team no-trade clause to kill trade possibilities. According to Portzline, Wisniewski is approving teams with limited cap space and/or a lack of defensive needs to try to avoid being traded.

(Wisniewski’s $5.5 million cap hit runs through the 2016-17 season.)

If true, it represents a stark contrast between no-trade clauses for potential trade deadline targets. At one end of the spectrum, you have Wisniewski trying to wiggle out of a move; on the other, Dennis Seidenberg is shrugging his shoulders and saying “If my team doesn’t want me, I don’t want to be here.”

Portzline points out another interesting wrinkle to this situation:

Interesting stuff, huh?

One can understand why Wisniewski wants to stay. The Blue Jackets are dealing with what might be a bad-luck-infested bump in the road, as the team’s shown glimpses of being competitive even with a ridiculous slew of injuries.

Beyond that, it’s possible he’s put down roots in Ohio and simply is tired of uprooting his life. Here’s a quick road map of his career so far:

2005-06 to 2007-08: Chicago Blackhawks
2008-09: Part of the season with Chicago, part with the Anaheim Ducks
2009-10: Anaheim Ducks
2010-11: Bounced from Anaheim to the New York Islanders to the Montreal Canadiens
2011-12: Signs long-term deal with Columbus

That’s not “Mark Arcobello playing for four different NHL teams” material, but Wisniewski indeed faced quite a bit of turmoil a few years ago.

Players only have so much power to avoid moves they don’t want, and it could get awkward if Columbus really wants to get rid of Wisniewski. It appears as if he’s doing what’s within his limited rights to stick with his team, though.

Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane

Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils

Official confirmation hasn’t surfaced regarding Patrick Kane, leaving many to speculate about scary thoughts such as the Chicago Blackhawks star missing 10+ weeks. The guy who injured him won’t have to nervously await a call from the NHL, however.

Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic won’t face a fine or suspension for his controversial cross-check on Kane, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Ultimately, the 22-year-old only received a two-minute penalty for the play (along with a sudden lack of popularity in Chicago):

Petrovic has never been suspended at the NHL level.