The ongoing woes of the Tampa Bay Lightning prompted Tampa Bay Times columnist Damian Cristodero to speculate about Martin St-Louis' future with the club.
Though Cristodero stressed he was merely speculating, he wondered if the 37-year-old winger – who helped the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2004 – would prefer moving on to a Cup contender.
Despite his age, St. Louis – a former winner of the Hart, Art Ross and Lady Byng trophies – remains among the Lightning's best players. He currently has 38 points in 29 games, enjoying tremendous on-ice chemistry with superstar Steven Stamkos.
So far, there's been no reaction from St-Louis or GM Steve Yzerman regarding Cristodero's speculation, though it's doubtful either man would publicly acknowledge a trade scenario. St-Louis has two years remaining on his contract (which includes a no-movement clause) at a cap hit of $5.625 million per season.
After starting strong, the Lightning have tumbled in the standings, but are only five points out of a playoff berth with six weeks remaining in the regular season. Regaining that spot will be difficult, but not impossible, especially with St-Louis in the lineup.
Unless St-Louis requests a trade, it's best for the Bolts to retain him, especially with team captain Vincent Lecavalier out indefinitely with a foot injury.
If a trade becomes necessary, an off-season move could provide better trade options, though St-Louis' age, salary and movement clause will limit those options.
JETTING OUT OF TOWN?
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch listed Evander Kane, Ron Hainsey and Alexander Burmistrov among three Winnipeg Jets to watch “because they're on the trade radar.”
Hainsey is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and might not re-sign. Burmistrov's been a healthy scratch of late, prompting Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press to call upon the Jets to play him or trade him.
Garrioch also reported the Jets are getting enquiries about big blueliner Dustin Byfuglien, but won't move him because of his value to the club.
The same can be said about Kane. The 21-year-old is third in team scoring with 11 goals and 20 points. He leads the Jets in hits (90), is tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (three) and leads all Jets forwards in ice time (20:27 per game). Kane also leads the league in shots with 126.
The Jets are jockeying with the Carolina Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead. To solidify their hold on a playoff berth, they need Kane as much as Byfuglien.
As for Hainsey, as long as the Jets remain in playoff contention, they won't move him. Burmistrov, on the other hand, could become a bargaining chip to bolster the lineup by the deadline.
ISLES IN OR ISLES OUT?
Since this season began, it was widely assumed New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky would be traded by the April 3 deadline.
During the off-season, Visnovsky unsuccessfully attempted to get his trade to the Islanders from the Anaheim Ducks overturned. Once the NHL lockout ended in mid-January, he tried to remain with the KHL's Slovan Bratislava because his son required surgery. He finally reported to the Isles on Feb. 8.
It was believed Visnovsky would be dealt as soon as the Islanders fell out of playoff contention, but Newsday's Arthur Staple reports they intend to open contract talks shortly with Visnovsky and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
They've also started contract talks with captain Mark Streit and could soon open negotiations with Brad Boyes. All four are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Visnovsky told Staple he was “open for anything” and enjoyed playing for the Islanders.
Nabokov's positive influence could be rubbing off on Visnovsky. The 37-year-old goalie, who refused to report to the Islanders two years ago when they claimed him off waivers, re-signed a one-year contract last March. Nabokov is open to remaining an Islander, claiming he likes the club's direction.
Outsiders might scoff at Nabokov's comments, but he had a chance to leave via free agency and opted to stay. Streit also seems open to that prospect.
The experience and stability Nabokov, Streit, Visnovsky and Boyes brought to the Islanders lineup this season is one reason management hopes to retain them. The other, of course, is their current position in the standings.
Entering Tuesday's game against the Ottawa Senators, the Islanders were 10th overall in the Eastern Conference and only three points out of a playoff berth. No wonder management is reluctant to move them by the trade deadline.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).