PRINCE OF PUCKS: Rumors abound from Spector

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At home in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he's known as Lyle Richardson. But around these parts, he's known as Spector, FOXSports.com's Prince of Pucks. Check in with Spector for the latest NHL rumors from around the league.
  • There are ominous signs the Pittsburgh are reaching the conclusion they can't afford to re-sign talented winger . A restricted free agent with arbitration rights this coming summer, Kovalev presently earns $4.6 million, and it's believed he could be seeking to double that amount. His name has occasionally floated in rumors for months, but things kicked into overdrive when Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claimed Pens GM Craig Patrick was shopping Kovalev in hopes of moving him by the All-Star weekend. Patrick denied this the following day in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but team owner and captain — and Kovalev's linemate — subsequently told the Tribune-Review it would be very difficult for his club to retain the high-scoring forward. Lemieux also stated that his club would want a good return if forced to move Kovalev. Speculation among several media sources has the Dallas , the Detroit , the New York , the New York , the Toronto , the New Jersey and the Colorado as potential trade partners. Spector's take: Lemieux's comments will only stoke the rumor fires burning about Kovalev. It's widely believed the Pens, lacking blue-line depth, want a couple of quality defensemen in return. Looking at those clubs noted above, only the , and could fill that need, and owner Tom Hicks says his club has no room in its budget for major deals this season. Look for speculations of the Avs shopping winger and blueliner to the in the coming weeks.
  • The Phoenix dealing veteran forward to the Dallas in an obvious salary dump last week spawned rumors of more salary-shedding deals to come by the struggling "Desert Dawgs." The names of , , and even were suggested as potential trade bait, but the one most mentioned was defenseman and team captain . At one point, Canadian television and Detroit radio claimed the were in talks to ship Numminen to the Detroit , who are believed to be seeking a defenseman. However, the Arizona Republic's Bob McManaman reported GM Michael Barnett denied the rumors, adding he preferred to wait and see where his club stood in the standings as the March trade deadline approached before swinging any deals. Spector's take: As long as management believes the club still has a shot at a playoff berth, I doubt we'll see them make any more big deals. If they're clearly out of the playoff picture by the deadline, it's quite possible we'll see more salary dumping by the . Numminen could be one of those dealt, but only if he waives his no-trade clause. If it comes to deciding between goalies Burke and Boucher, I'd say the latter would be moved. The only thing Boucher has proven this season is he's no threat to take away the starter's role from a healthy Burke.
  • Could the L.A. put winger on the block? That's the suggestion of the L.A. Daily News, which claimed the might dump Palffy's contract by the trade deadline. The basis for this is Palffy's one-year club option for next season worth $7.5 million. Apparently, management doesn't feel they're getting their money's worth this season, given the former 40-goal scorer's paltry 14 tallies thus far this season. Rather than face losing him for nothing if they decline to pick up the option year, it's been suggested the will try to move Palffy to a Cup contender by the March deadline. Spector's take: Anything is possible, but let's not forget the main reason for Palffy's low goal-scoring stats is the rash of injuries plaguing the this season, most notably to his playmaking linemate, . While he'd be lucky to get within 30 goals this season, Palffy still leads the offensively, averaging almost a point per game. As long as the are in the playoff hunt, I doubt they'll deal away "Ziggy Stardust."
  • Looks like Mike Milbury's patience is running thin with the media. Twice in the past week the N.Y. GM spoke out regarding rumors of trades involving either winger or defenseman as the centerpiece. Milbury even went on his team's website to slam "irresponsible" reporters for dreaming up unsubstantiated "trade tumors." Spector's take: That isn't going to stop some reporters, Mike. Indeed, he's brought this on himself with some of the knee-jerk trades he's made over the years. However, since the summer of 2001, Milbury has seemingly changed his habits and shown patience with his roster. Rumors will probably continue to swirl about Isbister until the trade deadline, but it's a safe bet Hamrlik, the Isles' best blueliner, won't be dealt this season.
  • Finally, it wouldn't be a good week of trade rumors without the latest in the seemingly endless Kyle McLaren saga. As the continue to struggle, the Boston Herald reports GM Mike O'Connell suggesting he may be forced to make some roster changes if his club didn't improve it's play soon. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the longer the ' slide continues, the more likely it'll force O'Connell to finally move McLaren. It's believed the , , , and are interested, and suggested the might have an eye on forward . Spector's take: I don't know about you folks, but I'll be glad when this situation is finally resolved. It's widely believed the will be seeking depth in goal and use McLaren as bait to bring in a quality netminder. Sorry, but Sturm doesn't address that need. Check out Spector's hockey page and buy his book.
  • Tagged: Bruins, Red Wings, Kings, Stars, Devils, Islanders, Penguins, Avalanche, Sharks, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Kyle McLaren, Tony Amonte, Brian Savage, Roman Hamrlik, Brad Isbister, Martin Skoula, Sean Burke

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