Also-rans ready to shed salaries
The National Hockey League will be returning to action Monday with
its annual trade deadline set for 3 p.m. ET on March 3.
Currently only six teams could be considered “sellers” – clubs out of the playoff chase and looking to get a jump on rebuilding for next season – for the deadline.
In the Eastern Conference the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers seem poised to dump salary while in the West the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus
Blue Jackets will likely try to shop some players.
The Hurricanes nearly had a deal in place which would’ve shipped veteran forward Ray Whitney to the Los Angeles Kings. It’s believed the Kings might still be interested but could have some competition as Whitney has also been linked with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
They’re also believed to be shopping veteran defenseman Aaron Ward, with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins considered potential destinations.
The Maple Leafs began their overhaul prior to the Olympic break shipping three players to Calgary for defenseman Dion Phaneuf and forward Fredrik Sjostrom and two others to Anaheim for goaltender J.S. Giguere.
General manager Brian Burke isn’t done as he’s believed to be shopping forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and Lee Stempniak. The Penguins are rumored to have interest in Ponikarovsky.
With the return of goaltender Rick DiPietro it’s believed the Islanders could part with either Martin Biron or Dwayne Roloson. While the latter might fetch the better return, Isles management would probably prefer to hang onto him for another season while DiPietro rounds back into form.
It’s also rumored they’re getting interest in defenseman Andy Sutton, who’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
This season has been a long nightmare for the Oilers, who were out of the playoff race by Christmas and as a result have been a fixture in this season’s trade rumor mill.
Defensemen Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky and Steve Staios, and forwards Shawn Horcoff, Andrew Cogliano, Ethan Moreau and Robert Nilsson are rumored available but it’s Souray who’s been the most frequently mentioned in Oilers rumors.
He’s given the club a list of six teams – the Kings, Ducks and Stars in the West, the Flyers, Rangers and Capitals in the East – he’d waive his “no-trade” clause for but his $5.4 million salary makes him difficult to move.
After making the playoffs last season for the first time in franchise history this one has been a significant disappointment for Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are eight points out of a playoff berth. And having recently fired Ken Hitchcock as head coach, it’s believed GM Scott Howson intends to move out a couple of pending unrestricted free agents by March 3.
Forwards Raffi Torres and Fredrik Modin along with defenseman Milan Jurcina are believed on the market, although Torres hasn’t ruled out the possibility of re-signing with the Jackets this summer even if he’s traded.
The Panthers are worth watching closely as their ownership expressed unhappiness with the club’s performance in an open letter to their fans just before the Olympic break.
GM Randy Sexton suggested no player was untouchable. Having already made one move before the Olympic break – Dominic Moore to Montreal for a draft pick – it’s widely believed Sexton isn’t done.
Over the past two weeks goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been the focus of Panthers trade rumors and while he and his agent claim Sexton hasn’t asked him to waive his movement clause that hasn’t stopped speculation he could be playing elsewhere next week.
One rumor making the rounds has Vokoun headed to the Chicago Blackhawks in a multi-player deal for goalie Cristobal Huet, although such a move makes little sense from the Panthers viewpoint.
Defensemen Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg are unrestricted free agents this summer and believed likely trade candidates.