The floundering New Jersey Devils remain a hot topic in the rumor mill now that the Christmas trade freeze is over.
GM Lou Lamoriello has reportedly become a seller, though he’s saddled with aging veterans carrying expensive contracts and no-trade clauses. It’s believed, however, players such as team captain Jamie Langenbrunner and center Jason Arnott – both eligible for UFA status this summer – will be receptive to waiving their clauses to go to playoff contenders.
Lamoriello will likely make a move or two in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 28 trade deadline, but despite plenty of blogger-generated speculation, Tom Gulitti of Northjersey.com recently reported on Twitter the Devils GM claimed there’s currently nothing going on trade-wise.
The Boston Globe, meanwhile, reported “scuttlebutt” suggesting Devils left winger Zach Parise had no aspirations to remain in New Jersey beyond this season, which came as news to Parise, who said there was no basis for that speculation.
Fuelling the rumors about Parise, a restricted free agent this summer, is the lack of contract extension talks between his camp and Lamoriello.
Bear in mind, however, Lamoriello has more than six months to get Parise under contract. Much will depend on the amount of available cap space the Devils have as well as the winger’s asking price.
It’s possible a rival team would send Parise an offer sheet if he’s unsigned by July 1, but Lamoriello will do everything he can to avoid that scenario. Contract talks will likely kick into gear once the Devils’ season ends in early April.
OTTAWA FLIPPING PHILLIPS?
The Ottawa Senators’ struggles this season could see them part ways with long-time defenseman Chris Phillips.
Earlier in the season it seemed both sides were interested in negotiating a contract extension, but with the Senators in danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, GM Bryan Murray may overhaul his roster and cut salary.
Phillips claimed he wasn’t distracted by trade rumors, but his age (32), eligibility for unrestricted free agency and the possibility young prospects Jared Cowen, David Rundblad and Patrick Wiercioch will challenge for a roster spot next season will make Phillips trade bait by the deadline.
As the reports noted, Phillips hasn’t had a good season, but his experience and skill set will attract interest from playoff contenders.
Phillips has a no-movement clause, but could waive it to go to a contender if Murray decides not to re-sign him.
LEAFS TALKING TRADE, BUT NOT ON THE VERGE OF STRIKING DEAL
A report over the weekend claiming the Toronto Maple Leafs received a solid offer for winger Kris Versteeg was not denied by GM Brian Burke, but he recently told the Toronto Sun trade talks of any kind hadn’t reached the serious stage yet.
Over the weekend there was speculation the Columbus Blue Jackets had interest in Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin, but the Columbus Dispatch reported the club has not had any discussions with Toronto about him.
The Blue Jackets have been in the market since last summer for an experienced offensive defenseman, but apparently Beauchemin is not suited for that role in Columbus.
CANUCKS MAY END UP KEEPING BIEKSA
Months of speculation suggesting the Vancouver Canucks would have to trade defenseman Kevin Bieksa to free up cap space for Sami Salo’s return from injury could be for naught.
The Vancouver Province reported the club’s “deft cap management” plus the special exemption it received for right winger Rick Rypien’s indefinite leave of absence leaves them with only $1.8 million of space to clear.
They could demote or trade less expensive players such as Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome (whose combined salaries coincidentally are worth $1.8 million) to clear space for Salo rather than ship out an important roster player like Bieksa.
PANTHERS SETTING UP TRADE BOOTH?
Harvey Fialkov of Sun-Sentinel.com suggested it wouldn’t be stunning if Florida Panthers left winger David Booth is on the trading block.
Booth, 26, had 20 points in 37 games this season and is under contract for four more seasons at a cap hit of $4.25 million per with a limited no-trade clause, which may make him difficult to move. So far there’s been no comment from Panthers GM Dale Tallon on this rumor.
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.