If Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson hoped to quash speculation of center Jeff Carter being shopped, his recent comments to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun did little to achieve that goal.
Howson told LeBrun he has “no intention of trading Jeff at this point,” which will be interpreted to mean at a future point in time, perhaps closer to the Feb. 27 trade deadline or during the off-season, Carter might be available for the right price.
Teams will make enquiries about Carter, but his lengthy contract and no-trade clause would significantly limit where he could be dealt, provided he’s willing to accept a swap.
Having acquired Carter from Philadelphia last summer, Howson isn’t going to part with him after only half a season.
STAAL STICKS IN CAROLINA
LeBrun also noted the Carolina Hurricanes have usually been active in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but this year their salary cap situation could prevent them from making salary-dumping deals in January.
That’s because the Hurricanes, currently carrying a payroll of $51.4 million, are very close to the league’s cap floor of $48.3 million. If they shed too much salary too soon, they’ll go under it.
LeBrun suggests any deal they make in January would mean taking an NHL player in return, rather than just picks and prospects. If they wait until deadline day, the cap and payroll hit would be minimized.
So, if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rumored deal for Hurricanes captain Eric Staal following the Dec. 19-27 holiday roster freeze had actually materialized, they would’ve had to send the Hurricanes almost the equivalent of Staal’s $8.25-million cap hit.
Staal claimed he wasn’t too worried about the rumor and expressed his gratitude to GM Jim Rutherford for quickly shooting it down.
DON’T EXPECT A BEANTOWN SPLASH
If the opportunity presents itself, should the Boston Bruins make a trade to land a significant player, or should they avoid tampering with their successful team chemistry?
The pros and cons were examined on NESN.com alongside a poll revealing nearly 70 percent of the site’s readers don’t want the Bruins to make a major move, even if a big-name star such as Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Rick Nash were available.
It’s easy to understand why. The Bruins have been one of the hottest teams in the league since early November, with a remarkable 21-2-1 record heading into their final game of 2011 against the Dallas Stars Dec. 31.
GM Peter Chiarelli will keep his options open in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but if he makes a foray into the trade market it will probably be just to tweak his lineup.
When your team is playing as well as the defending Stanley Cup champs currently are, you don’t fix what ain’t broken.
THREE SHARKS IS A CROWD
The recent return of goaltender Antero Niittymaki from hip surgery has resulted in a crowded crease for the San Jose Sharks.
After spending a brief period with the farm team on a conditioning stint, Niittymaki joined Thomas Greiss in backing up starter Antti Niemi.
Neither Niittymaki nor Greiss can be demoted without first clearing waivers, making either guy a tempting target for teams in dire need of goaltending depth, such as Columbus and Tampa Bay.
Carrying three goalies will make the Sharks the target of trade rumors, though as David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reported, the club isn’t doing anything to fuel such talk.
GM Doug Wilson told Pollak he and his scouts will address roster needs during their mid-season meetings Jan. 14, scuttling any suggestion Wilson will peddle a goalie before then.
Of the three, Niittymaki, a pending UFA with a current cap hit of $2 million, appears the likely trade candidate, as Wilson re-signed Greiss to a two-year contract this year with a more affordable cap hit of $587,500.
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.