Free agent signings and speculations dominate the NHL rumor mill this time of year, but there’s also plenty of trade chatter going on.
• The Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets offered up left winger Jason Chimera to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Ehrhoff earlier this summer, but Sharks GM Doug Wilson declined.
Wilson could be in the market for forward depth, but might have to part with a defenseman to get the deal done, while Jackets GM Scott Howson is seeking an experienced puck-moving defenseman and has enough depth in his wingers to use as trade bait.
Don’t, however, expect Howson to shop Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger or promising youngsters Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard and Nikita Filatov. It’ll likely be either Chimera, Raffi Torres or perhaps veteran Fredrik Modin who will move, although the latter has a “no-trade” clause.
The Dispatch also reported Howson spoke with Toronto, Carolina, Edmonton and Dallas.
• Speaking of the Maple Leafs, GM Brian Burke recently said interest in blueliner Tomas Kaberle had cooled around the league. The veteran defenseman has been the subject of trade speculation ever since a potential deal that would’ve sent him to Boston for winger Phil Kessel fell through just prior to the draft.
However, Burke’s claim hasn’t silenced speculation Kaberle could be dealt before his no-trade clause goes back into effect Aug. 15.
According to the Toronto Star there are persistent rumors the St. Louis Blues had interest in Kaberle. Another club linked to the Leafs and Kaberle are the Chicago Blackhawks, who also have a glut of forwards and are believed to be in the market for a veteran blueliner.
But Burke hasn’t been enticed by any offers so far.
In the failed Kessel deal, Burke tipped his hand as to what he’s looking for in return: a scoring center. Burke won’t just give his top defenseman away, but he’s keen to get something done before the no-trade clause kicks in.
• The New York Post recently reported the Rangers had conversations with the Dallas Stars regarding Brad Richards – who has two years at $7.8 million remaining on his contract – and the San Jose Sharks about Patrick Marleau (one year, $6.3 million), but there’s no indication either player would be dealt.
One reason they’d be hard to move is each has their own movement clause. Richards has a no-movement clause that followed him to Dallas after he waived it in 2008 to facilitate a trade from Tampa Bay, while Marleau’s is a no-trade clause.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Richards talk is originating out of New York and it’s highly unlikely the Stars would move him unless they got a “ridiculous offer” from the Blueshirts.
• One Ranger who could be on his way out of New York is restricted free agent Nikolai Zherdev, whose salary arbitration hearing is set for July 31.
The club recently signed veteran winger Ales Kotalik to a three-year, $9 million contract, setting the table for Zherdev’s seemingly inevitable departure.
It’s believed Rangers GM Glen Sather will simply walk away from the winger’s arbitration award, making Zherdev an unrestricted free agent, but it’s also possible Sather could try to move him prior to the hearing.
It was rumored Sather offered up Zherdev along with defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Ottawa Senators for winger Dany Heatley, but Senators GM Bryan Murray wasn’t interested in the proposal.
• Believe it or not, it is possible Heatley could return to the Senators in the fall.
That’s the suggestion of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who acknowledged the possibility last week, although he warned of various issues that would have to be smoothed out before the sniper could return.
One of those issues would be to clear out salary to make sure the team stays under the cap. Presently the Senators sit slightly above next season’s cap ceiling of $56.8 million, but have until the start of the 2009-10 campaign to get below the cap.
However, Heatley could still be dealt, according to Melnyk, who said the Oilers are still interested.
Unless another club steps in, the Oilers could be Heatley’s only trade option. The only team on his “wish list” of destinations that might be willing to deal for him is the San Jose Sharks, but there’s been no sign they are interested in his services so far.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.