Don't be surprised to see Coyotes power forward Keith Tkachuk,
who was nearly traded to the Hurricanes and the Rangers last
month, end up with the Devils. New Jersey would most likely keep
Tkachuk for the rest of the season and then deal him to the
Blackhawks for forward Tony Amonte. Mike Smith, who drafted
Tkachuk for the Jets in 1990, is the new manager of hockey
operations for Chicago....
In recent years the Kings have purchased a number of club teams
in Europe, both for scouting purposes and to make money. (Games
in European leagues are well attended, and player salaries are
low.) Los Angeles has been so successful in this venture that
you can expect other NHL clubs to follow suit....
Lightning forward Darcy Tucker, a feisty player who had 14 goals
through Sunday, was being scouted by several teams looking for
help down the stretch. Tucker could make a difference in the
playoffs because of his grittiness....
Speaking of Tampa Bay, there's little doubt that second-year
center Vincent Lecavalier has the talent to become one of the
best young players in the league, but he's getting into bad
habits by trying to do too much. In a match against the
Canadiens last week he stayed on the ice for the full two
minutes on two power plays instead of taking the usual
one-minute shift. Worse, according to Lightning players,
Lecavalier is being encouraged to take these long shifts by the
Panthers coach Terry Murray, feeling Florida needed to be
reenergized, recently placed grinding forward Scott Mellanby on
a line with star wing Pavel Bure and center Viktor Kozlov.
Mellanby's physical presence should give his highly skilled
linemates more room to work.