The NHL all-star break is now upon us and while there’s no official moratorium on trades, it’s unlikely we’ll see trade activity involving roster players during this period.
That means the Toronto Maple Leafs trade watch will grind on, with Leafs fans and pundits eagerly waiting for GM Brian Burke to pull off another significant deal weeks ahead of the trade deadline.
In the wake of the Leafs re-signing veteran blueliner John-Michael Liles to a four-year extension on Wednesday, Lance Hornby of The Toronto Sun reported defenseman Luke Schenn could be considered “a prime trade candidate.”
Schenn’s name has popped up in the rumor mill before, most recently linked to Philadelphia left winger James van Riemsdyk. If Burke is in pursuit of a top scoring forward, it will take a player like Schenn as the centerpiece in a package deal to get it done.
In recent days there’s also been speculation center Mikhail Grabovski has become a trade candidate because of his unrestricted free agent status this summer.
Burke was quick to shoot that down, telling the Toronto Star he wasn’t even close to a deal involving Grabovski, adding his free agent eligibility in no way affected his status with the team.
THOMAS TOAST IN BOSTON?
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas raised eyebrows earlier this week with his refusal for political reasons to attend the White House ceremony honoring the team’s Stanley Cup championship.
It’s also led to media speculation suggesting Bruins management, unhappy over Thomas’ stance, could shop him this summer when his “no-movement” clause expires, clearing the way for backup Tuukka Rask to take over as the starting goalie next season.
That is far-fetched, but if it were to happen, it would be a huge overreaction by the Bruins.
What Thomas did overshadowed the White House ceremony, embarrassed Bruins management and earned the veteran goalie a considerable amount of criticism around the league.
That being said, it’s not justification for trading away a guy who’s won the Vezina Trophy two of the past three seasons, will probably be a finalist for it again this year, won the Conn Smythe for carrying the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, and is their best bet in goal if they hope to repeat as champions.
NO TAKERS FOR CARTER
Columbus Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter remains a fixture in the rumor mill, this time courtesy of TSN’s Darren Dreger, who recently reported Carter was “100 percent available,” but added his hefty contract could prove difficult to move.
Dreger claimed the Blue Jackets were seeking the same return (a good young roster player and a first round draft pick) they gave up to the Philadelphia Flyers to land Carter, but doubted the Jackets would find many takers.
He also dismissed a rumor linking Carter to the Maple Leafs, saying they had no interest in taking on that contract.
SUBBAN RUMORS SHOT DOWN
There’s a growing backlash in the Montreal media against the notion of the Canadiens shopping charismatic (or cocky, depending upon your view) defenseman P.K. Subban.
Mathias Brunet of La Presse, Luc Gelinas of RDS.ca, and Mike Boone of The Montreal Gazette rejected the idea, suggesting it would be madness on the part of the Canadiens to move a promising young talent like Subban.
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported none of the teams he’d spoken with heard Subban mentioned as available.
Sportsnet’s Louis Jean was more blunt, calling the Subban trade rumors “ludicrous.”
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.