New York Rangers GM Glen Sather recently expressed optimism over the recovery of defenseman Marc Staal from his intermittent headaches, suggesting they might not be concussion-related.
That could mean Staal, who didn’t travel with the team to Prague this week, might be ready to return to action for the Rangers’ season-opener next week in Sweden.
It would also mean Sather wouldn’t have to shop around for a potential short-term replacement. The Blueshirts were rumored to be eyeing Chris Campoli as a possible fill-in for Staal if he were to be sidelined for a significant period, but he was signed earlier this week by the Montreal Canadiens.
Sather might have other moves on his mind. Christopher Botta of the New York Times recently suggested struggling left winger Sean Avery might be a candidate for demotion to the minors if he failed to show improvement over the Rangers final pre-season games.
Given Avery’s abrasive personality, $3.9 million cap hit and limited no-trade clause, it’s unlikely Sather will find any takers if the pesky forward were placed on the trade block.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Rangers have buried a struggling, expensive player.
Wade Redden, who has three more seasons at $6.5 million per remaining on his contract, spent last season with the Rangers’ farm team in Hartford and will do so again this season.
If Avery joins him, that’ll make over $10 million the Rangers will have riding the buses in the minors. That would make both players prime examples for closing the loophole allowing teams to clear cap space by dumping high-salaried busts in the minors in the next round of CBA talks.
TRAVELLIN’, WILL BURY?
A bit of promising news for Predators fans emerged earlier this week, as agent Neil Sheehy, who represents defenseman Ryan Suter, travelled to Nashville last Thursday and remained until Sunday to talk contract with Predators GM David Poile.
Suter is slated for unrestricted free agency in July and while Poile said the defenseman and his agent wouldn’t set the timeline for a deal, he admitted recent talks with Sheehy were “productive.”
The 26-year-old blueliner is earning $3.5 million this season and it’s a safe bet he could fetch at least $6 million per on the open market next summer.
BLUE JACKETS NOT GOALIE HUNTING…YET
Columbus Blue Jackets backup goalie Mark Dekanich will be sidelined for approximately one month with a high ankle sprain.
GM Scott Howson told Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch he doesn’t expect to seek a replacement at this point, but didn’t rule out the possibility.
Howson is gambling starter Steve Mason will regain his once-promising form and will look to his farm team for a temporary backup.
If the goaltending struggles early, it could force Howson to seek help via trade or free agency. Arace noted the pickings were slim in the UFA market, with Marty Turco, Ray Emery and Manny Legace available.
Turco remains unsigned, while Emery and Legace are in Chicago and Vancouver on a tryout basis for the pre-season.
PANTHERS NOT GOALIE HUNTING…YET
Another club that could be in the market for an experienced backup is the Florida Panthers. The team recently lost Scott Clemmensen to a minor knee operation, which could force him to miss the first few games of the regular season.
For now, it appears the Panthers will give goalies Tyler Plante and Jacob Markstrom an opportunity to jockey for the role. If Plante or Markstrom aren’t up to the task and it Clemmensen is sidelined longer than anticipated, the club will consider seeking a veteran backup.
Some fans of both teams might wish for a trade that would land either Cory Schneider from Vancouver or Jonathan Bernier from Los Angeles, but don’t expect either guy to be available at this point.
The Canucks have made it clear they expect to use Schneider more in the first half to spell starter Roberto Luongo, while the Kings aren’t in any rush to ship out Bernier, who could challenge Jonathan Quick for the starter’s job.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 Kukla’s Korner.