February 16, 2012

Our sources say: Nash departing, Malkin sitting

By Jesse Connolly

With the NHL’s trade deadline less than a dozen days away, rumors are flying left and right as writers across the globe ponder who’s on the block, who’s leaving town and who might be coming to Boston to turn everyone’s frowns upside down. 

Though many of them will make a number of incorrect guesses, if you throw enough (brown stuff) at the wall, eventually some of it will stick.

But that’s not how we operate around here. We can promise you that every nugget we share will come true, that every speck of speculation can be taken to the bank. With reliable insiders entrenched across the continent, not even a sliver of hockey gossip slips past us. Here are the latest whisperings we’ve overheard:

Our sources say…

… That Rick Nash (pictured right) will not be in Columbus come the morning of Sunday, Feb. 26, the day before the deadline. “Look, there’s a really good chance Nash will be traded in the next ten days,” the source said. “But even if he isn’t, the Blue Jackets are in Pittsburgh that day to take on the Penguins. So unless he somehow forgets to get on the plane, don’t bank on him being in the state of Ohio that morning.”

… That Devils winger Dainius Zubrus will finish the season with the most points in the NHL among players with the initials D.Z. “He’s got 32 points through 56 games and he’s the only NHL player with those initials,” the source told me. “Unless someone rises from the AHL and goes on an absolute tear, I can’t see Zubrus coughing up a lead that big.”

… That the sun will come out tomorrow. “Don’t be afraid to bet your bottom dollar on this one,” our insider told us.

… That Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, currently the favorite to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP, will be benched for most of the remainder of the season. “It’s simple math,” the source told us. “Even if he gets over 20 minutes of playing time a night, that still means he’ll sit on the pine for roughly 40 minutes. Only a fool can’t compute that.”

… There’s a good chance Wayne Gretzky will still be the NHL’s all-time leader in points when the 2011-12 season concludes. “The only guy with any hope of catching him is Jaromir Jagr,” our source relayed to us. “But he’s 1,239 points behind and would have to go on the run of a lifetime in these last 25-or-so games. But hey, I’ve seen crazier things happen.”

… That public address announcers across the NHL will be in a really sticky situation if anything of historical significance happens on Feb. 29. “This Leap Year crap always makes things really confusing,” our insider told us. “What if Ryan Miller has the first 100-save game in league history that night? Will the Sabres only commemorate the moment every four years? ‘On this day, ten years ago’ has a nice ring to it. ‘Sometime between today and tomorrow, ten years ago’ really doesn’t. You know?”

… That general managers throughout the league are working to make sure their cell phone plans include unlimited data and texts – especially in February. “I heard Pierre Gauthier up in Montreal sent his bill through the roof trying to find video of Scott Gomez scoring a goal to send to another GM,” the source said. “As if the freakin’ guy wasn’t costing him enough money already, right?”

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com