McDavid shoots down trade rumors, addresses injury

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If you want an idea about how dark things can get for the Edmonton Oilers, consider that in the span of a week:

1) People were wondering if Connor McDavid would soon be on the verge of demanding a trade.

And

2) Sportsnet’s Mark Spector excitedly tweeted that McDavid attended Sunday’s exit interview while not on crutches.

Yeah, these have been trying times.

But, hey: McDavid was reasonably reassuring (to use his words, “fairly positive”) about the two most disturbing ways his season ended for the Oilers, beyond the team missing the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

McDavid noted that he still needs to get an MRI, so that “fairly positive” update could still be somewhat problematic if there’s soft tissue damage/structural damage/other bad things. That said, McDavid admitted that he feared the worst, saying that “I thought my leg was in two pieces” after Saturday’s terrifying fall:

Number 97 didn’t try to claim that he was happy with the Oilers results, stating that he’d be “a loser” if he wasn’t frustrated with the way things are gone, and that he expects changes in Edmonton’s front office. But McDavid did his part to shoot down trade rumors, stating that he wants to be part of the solution, and that he wouldn’t have signed an eight-year contract with the Oilers if he didn’t want to stay.

Now, sure, “part of the solution” is a phrase that brings back some bad memories of the Taylor Hall trade … yet it’s better than McDavid giving a non-answer altogether, right?

Also: don’t expect the speedy star to change the way he plays, even after another frightful moment. As you may recall, his other major NHL injury happened because he was tripped up while going all-out.

As Ken Hitchcock said after the Oilers received Saturday’s fairly positive update about McDavid, they’re not out of the woods just yet. If McDavid suffered an injury that inhibits his speed over his career, it would be a loss for hockey fans everywhere, not just for the Oilers and their fans. So keep that in mind, and keep your eyes on PHT for updates.

All things considered, it could still be worse, though.

(Oh, and no, McDavid didn’t think Mark Giordano made a dirty play.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Flyers are interested in Roberto Luongo

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If you thought the Roberto Luongo-to-Toronto rumors were getting hot, you might want to buckle up.

TVA’s Enrico Ciccone tweeted earlier today that the Philadelphia Flyers were interested in picking up Luongo and that rumor was confirmed by TSN’s James Duthie this evening.

What to make of all this? Not much right now other than another team apparently getting in the hunt for the likely soon-to-be Canucks star goalie. Before the lockout, rumors swirled about the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks being involved in the hunt for Luongo, but those teams didn’t have a goalie signed to a long-term, big money deal the way the Flyers do.

Oh yeah, Ilya Bryzgalov is still the Flyers’ goalie and he has eight years left on his contract with the team at $5.6 million per year. With each team having two compliance buyouts coming after this season is over, it’s possible some team could/would buy out Bryz.

Then again, as Duthie says, the rumor doesn’t mean the Flyers will acquire Luongo, it just means they’ve asked about him. Can we get the CBA fully ratified so silly season can begin in earnest?

Update: Philly.com’s Frank Seravalli spoke with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and his take on the rumor is pretty fantastic. “That made me chuckle. Safe to say they aren’t true. They have no basis or merit.”

Another update: Adrian Dater of the Denver Post says to not believe the Flyers’ disinterest and adds that the Canucks would ask for Niklas Grossmann in a deal for Luongo. Failing that they’d ask for Schenn. We’ll assume he means Luke Schenn. Gee, this couldn’t just be an effort by the Canucks to drive up the price for a guy they almost have to trade, could it?

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Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov wants to play a lot this year

Rick Nash update: “NHL-ready forwards” are big part of asking price

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With the CBA talks taking a turn for the scary and Shane Doan’s decision put off for even longer, it seems like a decent time to take a glance at the drawn-out divorce between Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The latest update in the hockey game show “What does GM Scott Howson want for Nash now?” comes from TSN. While it’s likely that a couple NHL-ready forwards won’t be enough to do the job alone, that’s currently Howson’s emphasis in talks.

“If we do complete a trade, we’re trading out a 30-to-40 goal scorer,” Howson said. “Defense is probably the strongest part of our team if we look at it today, so we’re looking to get some NHL forwards back first and foremost.”

Personally, I think Howson is only half-correct about the Blue Jackets’ strength. While they’ve invested an unusually large amount of money in their defense – compared to the value they’re expected to get – stopping other teams from scoring isn’t necessarily their strongest point. Instead, their blueliners are probably most adept at filling the net. Both Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski are known more for creating offense (sometimes for both sides) than stifling it.

Interestingly enough, Howson shot down rumors about the team’s interest in highly touted Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier. He mentioned that there might have been some interest at the draft before they acquired Sergei Bobrovsky, but it stopped there.

Either way, many must wonder if the Blue Jackets will relent from what’s widely believed to be an excessive asking price for Nash. Howson isn’t budging on his quest to squeeze every asset he can imagine from the team’s soon-to-be-ex captain, though.

“I have a value that I’ve placed on Rick and that our whole organization has placed on Rick,” Howson said. “He’s an elite player, he’s been a tremendous ambassador for our franchise and our city and we’re very comfortable with the value we’ve placed on him and until we get that value, we’re going to keep working away at it.”

More than a few GMs probably feel like saying “good luck with that,” then.

Report: Blues show some interest in Jason Garrison

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Earlier today, we passed along notes about St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s hopes of adding a top-four defenseman. Jeremy Rutherford reports that they have at least some interest in a guy who would fit that description: pending Florida Panthers free agent Jason Garrison.

Armstrong noted that it would be more likely that the Blues will trade for a free agent blueliner rather than signing one, but that doesn’t mean Garrison wouldn’t fit. After all, they could always acquire his rights before July 1 – which might be just fine with Florida if they decide that his contract demands are excessive.

We can debate Garrison’s merits in his own zone all day, but it’s hard not to gravitate toward his booming slap shot. He might be a mph or five below Zdeno Chara in that category, yet for a Blues team that struggled on the power play, Garrison’s shot could be quite the tonic.

Of course, it’ll all come down to the price being right – both in trade and contract terms. Still, it’s interesting to ponder. How well do you think he’d fit in St. Louis?

Boston reporter thinks Tim Thomas will get traded this summer

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In the Boston Bruins elimination post, I noted the team’s goaltending conundrum coming into the summer: Tuukka Rask is a restricted free agent while Tim Thomas is scheduled to enter the last year of his contract. ESPN Boston’s Jimmy Murphy has a bold prediction about how the Bruins will react to that scenario.

“My prediction now: Tim Thomas traded in off-season,” – Murphy’s Tweet.

When reading such a Tweet, I think of two things a) my advice to the Bruins to avoid trading Thomas before the 2010-11 season and b) the surprisingly similar scenario between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider in Vancouver.

The former point shows that the question has been floating around pretty much since Rask started to really make Toronto Maple Leafs fans grimace about him being traded. The latter holds some weight for a few reasons.

Rask = Schneider?

For one, both Schneider and Rask need new deals, which means that both the Bruins and Canucks probably know that they can’t afford to keep their “goalies of the future” under their expensive franchise guys much longer. It’s interesting to note the parallels between the two scenarios as Rask and Schneider allowed their respective clubs to rest expensive starters before the 2011 playoffs, yet now both teams are out after the first round.

Potential diminishing returns

While Canucks fans have essentially turned on Luongo (and his long contract), trading Thomas would have a lot to do with his age (he just turned 38 on April 15) and the fact that his contract is almost up. One might lazily equate Thomas’ potential departure to Peyton Manning giving way to Andrew Luck; if the Bruins decide to go with youth over a bigger resume, then Rask would win out.

Of course, Thomas hasn’t undergone scary neck surgeries and was still quite good this season, so making this move might even be bolder than the Indianapolis Colts parting ways with a legend.

***

So let’s roll out the questions: how likely would it really be to see Boston move a guy who won them the 2011 Stanley Cup? Would they be wise to go younger in net while also getting something for Thomas? Perhaps they should consider swapping him at the trade deadline, instead? Fire away in the comments.