NHL

WEST KNAPSACK: Trade rumors abound

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Jim Kelley

 
   
 

WESTERN TRADE KNAPSACK

March madness traditionally refers to basketball, but it does come into play in hockey. For some two weeks in mid-month, the hockey rumor mill moves to near insanity. All pretense toward journalistic objectivity gives way to the most absurd rumors possible. True? We don't care, sounds good so why not run with it? Sensible? Not a chance, but a source close to a good friend who's related to a guy who used to know a scout in Moose Jaw swears it's true, so you're bound to hear it on the airways.
Eastern Conference Knapsack
We here at FOXSports.com are quick to admit that we engage in said madness from time to time, so without further fanfare and knowing full well there's a void to fill in the wake of the Tonya Harding-Paula Jones celebrity showdown, we hereby suspend operation of our normal Western Knapsack. In its place we bring you the best and the worst of the rumor mongering that culminates on Trade Deadline Day, March 19. While we can not say with any certainty whatsoever that these deals will get done, we can, in tribute to our journalistic routes, tell you that all rumors are from legitimate NHL sources and none, repeat none, have originated in Saskatchewan. Anaheim: Needs: Many, including cutting budget. Rumored deal: Shopping goaltender Steve Shields, perhaps to Toronto. Calgary: Needs: many. Available: Most everybody, but especially center Marc Savard, goalie Mike Vernon and perhaps a defenseman. Rumored deal: Look, the only thing happening here is one or more salary dumps. This team has to try and sign scoring leader Jarome Iginla and a host of rostered players in the off-season. Chicago: Needs: A forward with some scoring ability, possibility a center for the third line. Rumored deal: Either defenseman Jaroslav Spacek or Chris McAlpine for said forward. Outside chance: Moving Tony Amonte, but don't bet the farm. Colorado: Needs: A tad more scoring up front, a big and solid second-line center behind Joe Sakic. Rumored deal: Youth, in the form of Chris Drury, as a part of a package that includes draft picks or prospects for either Bill Guerin of Boston, Bobby Holik of New Jersey or even Pavel Bure of Florida. A step-down would be Andrew Cassels of Vancouver. Outside chance: Landing defenseman Darius Kasparitis of Pittsburgh. Columbus: Needs: Hey, it's a second-year expansion team, take your pick. Rumored deal: Goalie Ron Tugnutt to any team (Toronto maybe?) that needs a veteran presence in goal. Forwards Lyle Odelein, Grant Marshall, Geoff Sanderson are all rumored as going, but the Blue Jackets actually need NHL players, not draft picks or prospects; so don't look for much beyond Tugnutt. Dallas: Needs: Scoring up front, at least one mobile defenseman. Rumored deal: Already have one deal under their belt sending Martin Rucinsky to the Rangers for Manny Maholtra and Barrett Heisten, but said to be entertaining thoughts of Pavel Bure form Florida, a very dangerous move when it comes to locker room chemistry. Also known to be shopping Ed Belfour, perhaps to Philadelphia among other teams, for a package of draft picks and at least one defenseman. Detroit: Needs: Not much, perhaps a depth forward, more likely a depth defenseman. Rumored deal: A prospect or a draft pick to Buffalo for defenseman Richard Smehlik or a rostered player for Pittsburgh defenseman Darius Kasparitis or Atlanta vet Jiri Slegr. Could give up Darren McCarty or Tomas Holmstrom in the process. Edmonton: Needs: Everything, the Oilers are in panic mode having slipped out of the playoff eight. They are losing in bunches largely because they don't have a No. 1 playmaking center or a stand up defense. Rumored deals: American-born defenseman Tom Poti has been shopped, perhaps for Adam Oates of Washington or Kyle McLaren of Boston. Center Todd Marchant is the kind of gritty two-way player that teams covet this time of year. Outside shot: Making a deal for a goaltender to take some of the pressure off Tommy Salo or New York Islanders forward Brad Isbister. Los Angeles: Needs: Nothing screaming, but could use a more consistent scorer on the wing for the second line. Rumored deals: Remarkably quiet, but Steve Heinze has played his way into coach Andy Murray's doghouse. Minnesota: Needs: See Columbus. Rumored deals: Recently signed Sergei Zholtok could be dealt to anyone shopping for a veteran center. The Wild would like to unload goaltender Jamie McLennan, but he's in the minors and they aren't likely to find many suitors. Nashville: Needs: Size up front, not necessarily a scoring machine, but it wouldn't hurt. Even greater need for puck-handling defensemen. Rumored deal: Forward and defenseman Bill Houlder could, too, just because they are unrestricted at season's end. The Predators will listen to offers for scoring leader Cliff Ronning. It's not that they don't like him, they do, it's just that he's up in years and likely doesn't have a lot of NHL time left. He's still a useful center, scorer, playmaker for a lot of teams that could use one. Phoenix: Needs: Scorers, experienced players, some size. Rumored deals: Most of the big-budget moves were done last season in a vicious budget tightening. Outside shot: Landing Bobby Holik of New Jersey. The club could accommodate a big guy who is the complete package. Money might be an issue, but this team will need a marquee player to sell tickets next season, especially if it misses the playoffs for the second year in a row. St. Louis: Needs: Goaltending. Rumored to be shopping: goalie Fred Braithwaithe and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent forward Scott Young, maybe tough guy Tyson Nash. Possible deal: Mike Richter from the New York Rangers, Tom Barrasso from Carolina. Outside shot: Landing center Robert Lang of Pittsburgh. San Jose: Needs: Just a touch more character up front, a scoring winger for Owen Nolan. Rumored deals: Said to be shopping Patrick Marleau although that's been denied numerous times by management. Could move Teemu Selanne in a salary dump, but only if a younger scorer good for 20-25 goals comes their way. Vancouver: Needs: A bit more size up front, a defenseman who stays home (who doesn't need that), a touch of the scary kind of player that makes teams afraid to play you. Rumored deal: Center Andrew Cassels is on the market via the UFA scenario and the Canucks might throw in a draft pick if they can get some kind of a bigger body for the playmaking center. Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address: jkelley@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Oilers, Stars, Canadiens, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Avalanche, Sharks, Blues, Canucks, Capitals, Ducks, Panthers, Predators, Blue Jackets, Wild, Kyle McLaren, Bill Guerin, Marc Savard, Jaroslav Spacek, Tony Amonte, Darren McCarty, Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Marchant, Tom Poti, Grant Marshall, Ed Belfour, Bobby Holik, Brad Isbister, Robert Lang, Joe Sakic, Chris Drury, Patrick Marleau, Tom Fitzgerald, Geoff Sanderson, Jamie McLennan

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