Speculation the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets will soon swap defensemen, specifically Sheldon Souray for Mike Commodore, continues to abound.
It currently appears little actual trade talk has taken place between the two clubs as Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson continues to evaluate his defense corps.
Given the Blue Jackets need for an experienced puckmoving defenseman – combined with pressure to ice an improved product this season in the wake of sluggish season ticket sales – it is possible this rumored deal will become reality.
Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch suggested it’s a worthwhile move, despite Souray’s age, injury history, salary and recent portrayal as a malcontent with the Oilers. Arace went so far as to claim Souray could not only become the Jackets best current defenseman, but also the best one they’ve ever had.
That statement doesn’t speak well to the quality of talent on the Blue Jacket blueline over the years.
As for Commodore, he claims he’d like to remain with the Blue Jackets, but said the possibility of being dealt doesn’t bother him. He also told the Dispatch he’s been aware of the trade rumors since June, but hasn’t spoken to Howson about it.
There’s no question such a move would be a gamble on Howson’s part. There’s no denying Souray, when healthy and motivated, is a strong offensive contributor, particularly on the power play. But he seems to have lost a step, even prior to his injuries last season, while at times his defensive game leaves something to be desired.
As noted previously in this column, it’ll be desperation that will drive this possible deal. We know Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is desperate to move Souray. The question now is: how desperate is Howson to make such a deal?
Hopefully we will have an answer within the next couple of weeks.
BLUE AND WHITE TALK
Speaking of defensemen potentially on the block, THN’s Adam Proteau recently speculated Tomas Kaberle probably won’t finish the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While acknowledging a “slim chance” of Kaberle playing all of 2010-11 with the Leafs and then hitting next summer’s free agent market, Proteau believes the veteran blueliner will be dealt at some point during the 2010-11 campaign.
Leafs GM Brian Burke, however, claimed last month (following his failed efforts to trade Kaberle prior to his no-trade clause kicking back into effect in August) he wouldn’t ask the long-time Leaf to waive his clause.
If we take Burke at his word – and he tends to be a man of his word – the only way a Kaberle deal happens is if the latter asks to be dealt to a team of his preference.
Best guess is the earliest that happens is sometime in February, depending on where the Leafs are in the standings and, of course, if Kaberle feels it’s time to move on.
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.