Kings Land a Big Six Forward in Penner

Arguably the biggest trade made at the NHL deadline involved the Los Angeles Kings, who made a loud and clear statement to their fan base by obtaining former 30 goal scorer, Dustin Penner, from the Edmonton Oilers. Penner, who is only 28, had scored 21 goals and 39 points for the last place Oilers at the time of the trade. Penner has one year remaining on a lucrative five-year contract worth 21.5 million dollars. In return, the rebuilding Oilers obtained the Kings 2011 first round pick, along with a conditional second round pick in 2012 and prized defenceman, Colten Teubert. Edmonton also traded defenceman , Shawn Belle, to the Colorado Avalanche for another defenceman, Kevin Montgomery. The Vancouver Canucks, who are getting ready for what they hope will be a long play-off run, fine tuned their team by obtaining Chris Higgins from the re-building Florida Panthers in exchange for defenceman, Evan Oberg,and a 2013 third-round draft pick. Vancouver also added some sandpaper by obtaining forwards, Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp, in exchange for forward, Joel Perrault and a 2012 third round pick. The Ottawa Senators continued to build for the future when they traded defenceman, Chris Campoli, and a draft choice to the Chicago Blackhawks, in exchange for forward, Ryan Potulny, and a draft choice. In Calgary, the Flames added some secondary scoring when they traded for veteran forward, Fredrik Modin, in exchange for a seventh round draft pick. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are desperately trying to get back into the play-off race, made a minor deal as they sent forward John Mitchell to the New York Rangers in exchange for a seventh round pick. The Leafs’ number one rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, were also involved on Monday, as they sent defenceman, Brett Festerling, to the Thrashers. in exchange for goalie, Drew MacIntyre. The Panthers, who are all but out of the play-off race. were heavily involved, as they traded forward, Radek Dvorak, and a fifth round pick for Niclas Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller. Also traded from the sunshine state was defenceman, Bryan Allen, to the Carolina Hurricanes, for veteran forward, Sergei Samsonov. Florida also traded another blue liner, Dennis Wideman, to the Washington Capitals, in exchange for forward, Jake Hauswirth, and a 2011 third round pick. Other big deals include the New Jersey Devils trading veteran forward, Jason Arnott, to the Capitals, for forward, Dave Steckel, and a 2011 second round pick. These were just some of the big trades, which were made on a busy February 28 trade deadline day.

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Alex Kovalev is once again a Pittsburgh Penguin

The Ottawa Senators fire sale continued on Thursday when they traded aging scoring forward, Alex Kovalev, to the Pittburgh Penguins for a conditional seventh round draft choice. Kovalev, who was in his second year of a two year $10 million dollar deal, was in the middle of a sub-par season, which has seen him get booed at home and even feud with his coach Cory Clouston. After scoring only 14 goals and 27 points in 54 games the Senators decided to make the trade and Kovalev couldn’t be more excited about going back to Pittsburgh. ”I’m excited to go to Pittsburgh and play in the play-offs again,” said Kovalev who was a Penguin back from 1998 until 2003. “It’s been awhile.” Kovalev, who enjoyed his best season as a Penguin in 2001 with 44 goals and 95 points, had two parting shots for the Senators organization. In fact he was quite complimentary towards management and his former teammates. “It’s too bad I couldn’t show myself as a good player in Ottawa, but I still had a great time here surrounded by a good organization and a great group of guys here.” According to Senators GM, Bryan Murray, there were a total of three teams showing interest in Kovalev. Earlier this season Kovalev, who has scored 426 career goals and 1,017 points in his career, was feuding with Coach Clouston and was unhappy about being moved temporarily to the fourth line. Murray isn’t sure if that played a role in Kovalev underachieving as a Senator. “I don’t know if it was him and Cory only, or the role that he was given here,” Murray said. “As a coach you have to define each and every player and where they fit. For Alex it didn’t seem to work, so he moves.” A big reason why Kovalev waived his no trade clause, to once again play for Pittsburgh, is because of the strong respect he has for owner, Mario Lemieux. “I know Mario really well and he does what it takes to put his team in the right direction.”

Minnesota Twins MVP Joe Mauer still recovering from knee surgery

Minnesota Twins catcher and team MVP, Joe Mauer, emphasized on Wednesday that everything is on schedule concerning his recovery time from off-season knee surgery. Mauer, who hit .327 last year with nine homeruns and 75 RBI’s, is still taking shots to help him lubricate the swelling knee joint which gave him so much trouble last year. “It’s more of a preventative thing, just to make sure I’m good to go for the season,” Mauer said before the first full-squad workout. “So it’s really not that big of a deal, and I kind of wish it wasn’t out there. But here we are.” His schedule consists of limiting how much he catches in both workouts and batting practice along with sitting out the early portions of exhibition games. This is a big year coming up for Mauer, who is beginning a lucrative eight year $184 million dollar contract extension. Addressing any concerns about the knee, Mauer said that the kind of knee operation he underwent in the off-season is a common issue among athletes. Teammate and starting pitcher, Tim Blackburn, underwent a similar series of shots a few years for a knee problem and fully recovered.
Obviously the Twins are taking every pre-caution with Mauer in making sure he fully recovers before Opening Day on April 1 at Toronto against the Blue Jays. “I want to make sure we clean that knee up before we get anything going,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Zherdev thrilled to be leaving the Philadelphia Flyers

Very rarely do you see a player thrilled about leaving a team which has a strong shot at a Stanley Cup. Such was the case on Wednesday when power forward, Nikolav Zherdev, was placed on waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers. Zherdev, who was a former 2003 Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick, had scored a respectable 15 goals and 19 points in only 47 games. The issue with Zherdev was his obvious anger at being a consistent healthy scratch by coach Peter Laviolette. “I think at times for me it was just the level of play,” Laviolette said. “It wasn’t the skill thing, it was the level and the level that he played. There were other guys that were performing better. So there’s only nine that can go in there — the nine I felt were playing.” As of Wednesday night no teams have inquired about the forward, who spent last season in the KHL. If he happens to clear waivers, then Zherdev could either return to the KHL or report to the Flyers American Hockey League affiliate the Adirondack Phantoms. Zherdev deserves tons of credit for not being a distraction by going public with his complaints. Instead he has quietly gone about his business, despite not playing since February 10. Instead he voiced his dissatisfaction privately to Holmgren. “They’d asked us to look around for options,” Holmgren said. “Nothing really came of that through trades, so we’ll see what happens with this.” In 412 NHL games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Flyers Zherdev scored 114 goals and 258 points.

Devils undefeated in seven straight games

The big question in New Jersey is whether or not the Devils can save their season and somehow grab that eighth and final play-off spot.
After getting off to a rough start this year and finding themselves at one point in last place, 20 points out of a play-off spot, the Devils have suddenly caught fire and have reeled off seven straight wins.
On Saturday night veteran forward, Dainius Zubrus, was the hero as he scored two goals in leading New Jersey to a critical 4-1 win against the eighth seeded Carolina Hurricanes.
New Jersey, who have now defeated Carolina three times in the past 12 days, are all of the sudden within 10 points of a play-off spot, with approximately 22 games remaining.
“We took control early, for a change, because here this team is known for great starts,” Devils coach,Jacques Lemaire, said. “Every time they (Hurricanes) step on the ice they really skate and get on top of the other team. We were pretty lucky to get that first goal.”
Also scoring for the Devils were veterans, Brian Rolston and Henrik Tallinder. Power forward, Ilya Kovalchuk, who struggled for most of the season, had an assist to run his point scoring streak to 10 games. (seven goals and five assists).
While the good news is that New Jersey have crept to within 10 points, the fact remains that there are still four teams for them to jump over to make the play-offs.

Morneau still feeling concussion side effects

The Minnesota Twins are playing it safe with their slugging first baseman, Justin Morneau, who hasn’t played since suffering a serious concussion in Toronto last July, against the Blue Jays.
Morneau, who was hitting .345 with 18 homeruns and 56 RBI’s at the time of injury, gave Minnesota fans and management hope on Monday when he declaired that he is now feeling a lot better, but did admit that he is still not one hundred percent.
“We’ve done everything, I think, possible to try and take care of this thing and be ready,” Morneau said. “But whenever it’s ready …it’s ready.”
Morneau, who is a gold glove first baseman, stressed along with Twins GM, Bill Smith, that the goal is for Morneau to be ready by April 1, which is Opening Day.
“Wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent yet, but I think it’s as close as I can get,” Morneau, who still gets foggy after workouts, said. “It’s just trying to get over that final hump.”
When the Exhibition Season begins Morneau will be sitting out the first four or five games as a precaution.
“However long it takes, it is what it is,” Morneau who will be wearing a batting helmet at the plate and on the field said. “As much as we’d like to be ready to play [games] today, it’s got its own timeline. It hasn’t ever been up to me.”

Derek Jeter focused on rebounding this season

Derek Jeter has come into camp on a mission to prove that last year was nothing more than just an off-year in what has been a hall of fame career.
This past off-season whispers were circulating that perhaps Jeter, who posted a career low in batting average at .270 with only 10 homeruns and 67 RBI’s, was on the decline of his career. In preparation for spring training and the upcoming season this soon to be 37 year-old has spent the past month working with hitting coach Kevin Long over at the team’s minor league complex.
“I’m coming off a season I wasn’t too happy with but I have to forget about it,” Jeter, who recently signed a three year extension said. “You have to come back and make some adjustments and prepare for this season here.”

Jeter, who reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field for the first day of workouts on Sunday was all smiles as he insisted that there were no hard feelings with the Yankees after what was an ugly contract dispute during this past off-season.
Besides for focusing on a World Series title, Jeter also has his mind focused on getting 3,000 hits. An achievement that will be reached sometime in the first two and half months of the season.
“I think it’s something that should be appreciated,” Jeter who is 74 hits shy of the milestone said. “I’m talking about myself appreciating the journey and to have fun with it. That’s what I’m going to try to focus on.”