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PRINCE OF PUCKS: Spector's NHL rumors

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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. And feel free to let him know what you think.
  • As the March trade deadline approaches, all eyes are on the Florida Panthers, and in particular, winger Pavel Bure. Speculation continues to grow that the Panthers, apparently seeking to dump salary, will trade the superstar forward by Mar. 19. The only question is, to which team? The New York, Dallas and Florida press report the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars are looking to obtain Bure, the two-time NHL goal-scoring champion. The Panthers were seeking a package consisting of forwards Brendan Morrow and Jamie Langenbrunner, prospect Steve Ott and a draft pick from the Stars, but that was quickly rejected. Meanwhile, the Rangers turned down Florida's supposed suggestion of forward Mike York, defenseman Tomas Kloucek, prospect Jamie Lundmark and a first round pick. The Blueshirts are believed to have countered with York, blueliner Igor Ulanov and prospect Filip Novak in exchange for "the Russian Rocket". Spector's Take: The Panthers want to free up salary in order to make a pitch for Boston's Bill Guerin in this summer's free agent market. However, there's no guarantee they'll get him, and trading Bure to Broadway for York, Ulanov and a prospect is not going to benefit the Panthers. York is a good young forward, but he's not in Bure's class. Ulanov wore out his welcome in New York with his undisciplined play and is toiling in the minors, while Novak apparently has slipped down the Rangers prospect depth chart. If the offers don't improve, GM Chuck Fletcher should hang onto Bure and maybe try to move him during the June draft.
  • The Edmonton media continues to wait for Oilers GM Kevin Lowe to make the long-awaited trade of defenseman Tom Poti for some much-needed offensive help. Various sources claim the N.Y. Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars and N.Y. Islanders have the most interest in the young blueliner, who's been a target of fan criticism in Edmonton this season. The New York Post reported the Rangers were seeking a four-player swap, that would see Poti and either forward Anson Carter or Jochen Hecht sent to New York in exchange for Mike York and either defenseman Bryan Berard or Mike Mottau. The New York Daily News reported the Islanders may offer up forward Brad Isbister, blueline prospect Branislav Mezei and a first rounder to Edmonton for Poti and Carter. Meanwhile, there were reports of the Stars offering Brendan Morrow for Poti and rugged winger Georges Laraque, and speculation of the Penguins shipping young forward Milan Kraft and defenseman Andrew Ference to Edmonton for Poti and center Marty Reasoner continues to make the rounds. Spector's Take: The only one of these deals that might tempt Lowe is the Rangers package. The rest do little to help the Oilers in the short term. I'd suspect many of them are being dreamed up based on the Oilers tight payroll and their history of dealing off established stars for young, inexpensive talent. However, the Oilers need the revenue generated from a playoff berth, so they need offensive help right now. Lowe probably isn't interested in future building blocks.
  • In other rumors ¿ The Montreal Gazette reported the Canadiens may attempt to land veteran forward Dave Andreychuk from the Tampa Bay Lightning to bolster their struggling offense ¿ The New York Daily News wrote the N.Y. Islanders dismissed a report that had them shipping forward Dave Scatchard to Atlanta for Thrashers defenseman Jiri Slegr ¿ Chicago GM Mike Smith announced Blackhawks captain -- and impending UFA -- Tony Amonte won't be dealt at the deadline ¿ The Ottawa Citizen suggests the Senators may shop backup goalie Jani Hurme as trade-bait for a second-line center ¿ Predators forward Cliff Ronning says he doesn't want to be traded, hoping to finish his career in Nashville ¿ The Florida Panthers placed goaltender Trevor Kidd on waivers. They cite Kidd's poor stats this season and his $2.3 million salary next season as the reasons why they couldn't trade him.
  • Finally, it's time once again for "Stupid Trade Rumor of the Week". The recipient this time around Ted Montgomery of USA Today for his Mar. 12 article of trade speculations. Many of them were strange and bizarre. Among the highlights: The Senators shopping center Radek Bonk for "a top flight goaltender and a rough-and-tumble forwards", a "cold rumor" of the Avalanche offering up Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay and a draft pick to Tampa Bay for Vincent Lecavalier; and the Oilers and Devils discussing a Mike Grier-for-Scott Gomez deal. The best one, though, was Montgomery claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs were offering forwards Jonas Hoglund and Garry Valk, plus a draft pick, to the Montreal Canadiens for goaltender Jeff Hackett. He wrote the Habs didn't want to make this deal because Hoglund had played for them before and they weren't sold on him. Actually, Ted, if the Leafs had offered that package to Montreal, GM Andre Savard would've jumped on it. Only problem being, Hackett injured his shoulder in a game four days before your column appeared and is gone for the season! Other recent rumors With the likelihood potential free agents such as Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik, Tony Amonte and Teemu Selanne will remain with their respective teams, the possibility of the approaching trade deadline being one of the quietest in NHL history. However, new names are popping up in the rumor mill of late. Some of the speculations are plausible, while most are, as we shall see, ludicrous.
  • Speculation has been brewing out of Florida the Panthers may decide to jettison star forward Pavel Bure and his large contract. Both the Miami Herald and Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel report Panthers GM Chuck Fletcher "won't confirm or deny" reports he's shopping "the Russian Rocket", but scuttlebutt has the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers looking to obtain Bure. The Stars supposedly have offered forwards Brendan Morrow and Jamie Langenbrunner, plus a draft pick, while the Panthers are thought to be seeking Petr Nedved, Mike York or Radek Dvorak and prospect Mike Mottau from the Rangers. Spector's Take: Bure's one-dimensional play and hefty contract will limit the market to only a few, deep-pocketed takers. The Stars could certainly afford him, but team president Jim Lites doesn't know if Bure would be a good fit. The Rangers players the Panthers are thought to covet are struggling this season, so the fleet-footed Russian would be seen as an offensive upgrade. However, the Blueshirts desperately need defensive improvement, so Bure wouldn't be an improvement in that department. Both clubs could pass on him, ride out the season with their present rosters, and look to this summer's free agent market to find the offensive talent they need.
  • With the Edmonton Oilers struggling to remain in the Western Conference playoff picture, the Edmonton media has gone into full-fledged panic mode. Both the Sun and Journal newspapers are calling on GM Kevin Lowe to finally pull the trigger on a trade to bring in more second-line depth. There are several possibilities apparently available to Lowe, all of them with little-loved offensive blueliner Tom Poti. One rumored deal has Poti and a forward (Rem Murray, Shawn Horcoff, Marty Reasoner, or Todd Marchant) getting sent to the Rangers for either forward Mike York or Radek Dvorak and an unnamed Blueshirt defenseman. Other possibilities include Poti to Pittsburgh for another defenseman, or Carolina for struggling young blueliner David Tanabe, or Dallas for Brendan Morrow, Ottawa for d-man Chris Phillips, Boston for defenseman Kyle McLaren, Buffalo for winger J.P. Dumont or the Islanders for forward Brad Isbister. Spector's Take: The Edmonton press may be panicking, but not Kevin Lowe. He knows the longer he can hang on to Poti as the deadline approaches, the better the quality of the potential return. Disregard the speculations of Poti for another defenseman. The Oilers are clearly seeking more offense up front.
  • Speculation continues to swirl of the Tampa Bay Lightning possibly making more deals before the deadline as their playoff hopes fade away. There have been rumors of 2001 Calder runner-up Brad Richards being sent to the Vancouver Canucks, defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Islanders, and naturally, more speculation Vincent Lecavalier is on the block. However, Lightning GM Jay Feaster is not only denying these rumors, he's spoken to these respective players to assure them they won't be dealt. Feaster expressed his dissatisfaction with the rumors in a recent interview with the Tampa media, calling the reports "baseless" and "B.S." Spector's Take: Come now, Jay, tell us what you really think! Seriously, whoever dreamt up the Richards trade speculation was an idiot. No way in hell the Bolts move this guy, and the same goes for Kubina and Lecavalier. Indeed, it's because team ownership wants to retain Lecavalier that forced Feaster's predecessor, Rick Dudley, to quit.
  • Now, we veer off into the land of weird. First, New York Post writer Mark Everson reported a rumor suggesting New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello was preparing to "blow up his roster" by shipping off several key players to obtain Anaheim Mighty Ducks captain Paul Kariya. Ducks GM Pierre Gauthier flatly denied it. Next up, the Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont, who claimed Washington Capitals forward Jaromir Jagr was available. He wondered if the New York Rangers might be willing to make a pitch for Jagr, given how they were out-bid for the Czech's services by the Caps last summer. Spector's Take: As talented as Kariya is, dealing away three or four players for him at this stage of the season would mean Lamoriello was giving up on the season. That, quite simply, isn't going to happen, not with the Devils grimly hanging on to a playoff berth. As for Jagr, this season has been disappointing, due in no small part to nagging injuries. However, that's not enough to convince the Caps to give up on him after only one season.
  • Time once again for "Stupid Trade Rumor of the Week". This week, we have co-winners: Larry Brooks of the New York Post, and Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Brooks gets his share of the dubious honor for daring to suggest the New York Rangers might be able to land Dallas Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher by offering Vladimir Malakhov straight up. Garrioch gets the other half of the booby prize by claiming the St. Louis Blues might be able to get Rangers netminder Mike Richter by a straight up offer of goalie Fred Brathwaite. Please, folks, don't think too much about the possibility of these happening. They'll merely cause uncontrollable fits of laughter. Check out Spector's hockey page and buy his book.
  • Tagged: Bruins, Oilers, Canadiens, Islanders, Rangers, Senators, Flyers, Penguins, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Coyotes, Ducks, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Todd Marchant, Tom Poti, Ethan Moreau, Mike Grier, Brian Savage, Radek Bonk, Kevin Weekes, Pavel Kubina, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Fredrik Modin, Brendan Morrison, Niclas Havelid, Paul Kariya, Matt Cullen

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