The need for the Boston Bruins to dump salary once two of their most notable players return from long-term injury reserve has prompted reports claiming GM Peter Chiarelli has been working the phones in search of a salary-dumping deal or two.
Veteran forwards Marco Sturm and Marc Savard are expected to return from LTIR by December. As James Murphy of ESPN.com observed, if both returned today, they would push the Bruins over the salary cap.
A source told Murphy the Bruins had not asked Sturm to waive his no-movement clause and it’s unlikely he would waive it if they did.
Murphy and CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty cited sources suggesting forwards Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler along with defenseman Matt Hunwick would be shopped. Defenseman Mark Stuart has also apparently garnered interest around the league, but Haggerty suggested Stuart would not be available.
Whatever deal Chiarelli makes, he can’t take much salary back in return.
Chiarelli was spotted at a recent Montreal Canadiens-Phoenix Coyotes game with scouts in tow. That led to speculation the Coyotes would be a trade target, given their $9.2 million in cap space and depth in affordable young players.
Reports out of Boston on Tuesday suggested Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was available, but that was summarily dismissed by Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic, who said Yandle wouldn’t be going to the Bruins or anyone else.
Just because Chiarelli’s shopping around now, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a deal is imminent. He’s got until December to prepare for cap compliance once Sturm and Savard return, so it only makes sense to start laying the groundwork.
TRADE TALK IN TORONTO
Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was quoted in a recent interview with AM 640’s Bill Watters claiming he’d had “two solid hits” in terms of trade inquiries from rival clubs, suggesting the trade market was finally starting to open up.
With around $4.73 million in available cap space, the Maple Leafs will certainly be a target later this season for teams like the Bruins that are looking to dump salary.
Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean acknowledged a rumor that had Wheeler going from Boston to Toronto, but he thinks the Coyotes would be a better trade target for the Bruins.
Michael Traikos of the National Post recently suggested an early season weak point for the Leafs was their secondary scoring. Therefore, Burke would prefer to get a top-six forward in any trade. But TSN’s Bob McKenzie said there’s “nothing cooking on that front,” adding Burke was merely trying to drum up business.
SENATORS STIFLED IN DEFENSEMAN SEARCH
The Ottawa Senators’ efforts to find a physical blueliner have been fruitless so far.
Sources told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that few teams are willing to make any moves at this time and it’s unlikely the Senators will find the type of defenseman they seek.
Garrioch claimed the Senators, who currently have about $75,000 remaining in available salary cap space, are trying to move defenseman Brian Lee, but his poor performance this season hurts his trade value. Rival clubs would prefer left winger Nick Foligno or defenseman Erik Karlsson, but GM Bryan Murray doesn’t want to move his promising young players.
If Murray hopes to make a trade at this point in the season, it’ll likely cost him Foligno or Karlsson. But given the Sens’ limited cap space and the low salaries of both players, Ottawa would not get decent value in return.
NO ROOM ON RANGERS FOR WHITE
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella is having trouble finding a spot for veteran center Todd White. Larry Brooks of the New York Post suggested the 35-year-old White, who is earning $2.37 million this season, faces an uncertain future with the Rangers.
Brooks suggested it was unlikely White would move up from the fourth line, barring further injuries to the Blueshirts.
White doesn’t have much trade value at this point in the season and if the Rangers need to clear more cap space later on, the veteran pivot would likely end up joining high-salaried defenseman Wade Redden on the farm team.
AVALANCHE IN SAME BOAT AS SENATORS
The Colorado Avalanche’s defensive struggles prompted Adrian Dater of the Denver Post to suggest management must either sign a free agent or make a trade to address the problem.
Dater noted the Avalanche added nothing in the off-season to a blueline corps that gave up the fifth-most shots per game (32.1) last season.
Like the Senators, however, the Avalanche will find addressing that need extremely difficult. The Avs have plenty of cap space, but the front office so far appears unwilling to spend it.
It was apparent last season the Avalanche needed to bolster their blueline depth, but the front office’s unwillingness to do so places the team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Besides, given the recent knee injury sustained by star goalie Craig Anderson, their needs will change if backup Peter Budaj struggles in Anderson’s absence.
TWO FOR FIGHTING
Defenseman Sheldon Souray’s trade value took another blow this week after it was announced he’d fractured a bone in his surgically-repaired right hand during a fight in a recent game with the American League’s Hershey Bears.
Souray broke the same hand in a fight with Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla on Jan. 30. His agent claimed Souray didn’t re-break the same bone and could return to action in two weeks. But given the blueliner’s recent injury history and his hefty salary, it’s likely this recent news will all but kill off whatever trade or waiver value he might’ve had, ensuring he’ll spend the season in the minors.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.