With just more than a week until the NHL’s trade deadline it appears some of the players who’ve been fixtures in this season’s rumor mill might not be moving on deadline day after all, but on the other hand some new names have emerged…
Teams seeking goaltending help might be interested in Atlanta Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen. A restricted free agent at the end of the season, it’s been rumored Lehtonen might be available at the deadline.
The Philadelphia Flyers have been linked to Lehtonen, but unless they move Antero Niittymaki – Martin Biron won’t waive his no-trade clause – they probably can’t fit Lehtonen into their lineup.
Lehtonen didn’t distinguish himself in his only post-season series two years ago with the Thrashers and his injury history would be cause for concern. Still, one should never underestimate the desperation of an NHL GM at this time of the season.
• As the Anaheim Ducks continue to struggle in the West, rumors persist they might shop Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer.
Of the two, Niedermayer might be the more likely trade candidate given his leadership, playoff experience, four Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume, plus the fact he’s an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
Picking up Pronger would mean taking on his $6.25 million salary for next season, which could prove too expensive for most clubs concerned about available cap space in 2009-10.
• Speculation persists Edmonton Oilers winger Erik Cole could be on the move by the deadline.
It was reported more than two weeks ago Cole might be headed to Boston, but the Pittsburgh Penguins might also have interest, as they’re believed to be seeking a scoring winger to play on Sidney Crosby’s line.
The Oilers are in the market for blueline depth, so it could take a defenseman to pry Cole out of Edmonton.
• Time is running out for the Phoenix Coyotes to make up the ground they recently lost in the Western Conference standings. Having tumbled from fifth at the all-star break to 13th currently, their post-season hopes are rapidly fading.
If the Coyotes fail to string together some victories prior to the deadline they could become sellers, and center Olli Jokinen and defenseman Derek Morris could end up being moved out of Arizona by March 4.
The aforementioned players may be moving at the deadline, but there are several notables who will likely stay put…
• Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has been a key factor in that club’s improvement this season and isn’t expected to be dealt anymore. A recent groin injury could keep him sidelined past deadline day, which all but ensures he’ll finish this season with the Blackhawks.
• Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Toronto Maple Leafs blueliners Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina have been mentioned as trade bait since last fall, but recent reports suggest those three could remain with their current clubs.
• St. Louis Blues left winger Keith Tkachuk has been linked with the Boston Bruins for some time, but the Blues apparently haven’t approached him about waiving his no-trade clause and in a recent interview Tkachuk didn’t sound keen about doing so.
• Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis have also regularly appeared in trade rumors, but the Lightning is reportedly telling teams the two stars are not available. That’s not surprising as the asking price for Lecavalier would be a king’s ransom, while St-Louis has a no-trade clause and no desire to waive it.
• One name that recently popped up in the rumor mill was Colorado Avalanche left winger Ryan Smyth, but there are several reasons why he probably won’t be dealt at the deadline.
First, he has a no-movement clause, which he recently told the Denver Post he won’t waive. Second, the teams rumored to be interested in Smyth are in the Eastern Conference and he would prefer to stay in the West.
Finally, the three years and $18.7 million remaining on his contract wouldn’t be palatable to GMs concerned about a falling salary cap in the near future.
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.