The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is a little more than a week away, spurring conjecture over which clubs will try to move up or down in the first round.
Most GMs tend to be open to the possibility of changing their order in the draft, depending, of course, on the type of offers they receive.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke informed his peers during the recent NHL draft combine he’s willing to package either of his two first round picks, plus his second-rounder for a higher pick.
New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has let it be known he’s open to entertaining offers for his first-rounder (fifth overall).
Snow is willing to consider moving up or down in the draft order, but it’s also believed he’s interested in adding what Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank called “at least one productive and experienced forward” who would help speed up the club’s rebuilding program.
Botta suggested Philadelphia Flyers center Jeff Carter would fit that profile, but believed his expensive contract and “pouty” temperament will rule him out. Botta added the Isles aren’t willing to trade any of their top prospects and won’t move their pick for past-their-prime veterans.
Cap-strapped clubs would be very interested in landing such a high pick, but should be prepared to give up a good player in return.
New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, meanwhile, was more tight-lipped over the prospect of using his first round selection (fourth overall) to move up or down in the draft, suggesting it depends what other teams are willing to offer.
Lamoriello lacks a second round pick in this year’s draft, but dismissed the notion of trading down in the first round in order to pick up a second-rounder.
The Columbus Blue Jackets may also be interested in moving their pick (eighth overall) for an established player, preferably a top center for right winger Rick Nash’s line.
It was rumored last week the Blue Jackets were working on a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers for Carter.
Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com reported Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren did have talks at the draft combine, but they didn’t involve Carter, whom Holmgren, it’s believed, is reluctant to move.
It’s thought the two had discussed a deal involving Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, but Holmgren reconsidered and instead acquired Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights from Phoenix.
Holmgren, however, remains interested in Howson’s first round pick, having shipped his own to Toronto in February as part of the deal for right winger Kris Versteeg.
Holmgren also needs to dump salary to free up cap space for a new contract for Bryzgalov, leading Panaccio to speculate the Flyers GM would prefer to make a series of smaller deals, rather than move one high-salaried player.
Panaccio noted Howson needs a puck-moving defenseman and suggested Matt Carle would fit the bill, but claimed Howson wanted more for the pick. He also doubted the Blue Jackets GM would want Versteeg or Scott Hartnell as part of the deal.
FLYERS FLIPPING CONTRACTS
Panaccio also suggested the addition of Bryzgalov puts rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s future with the Flyers in doubt, as he’s unlikely to develop properly playing 30 games per season in a backup role.
If the addition of Bryzgalov makes Bobrovsky expendable, there would be no shortage of clubs willing to add him to their roster.
The Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes – Bryzgalov’s former team – would have varying degrees of interest in Bobrovsky, who would be an affordable acquisition with a promising future.
Chuck Gormley of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post, meanwhile, suggested it would take a lengthy, heavily front-loaded contract for the Flyers to get Bryzgalov under contract for a cap-friendly deal worth more than $5 million per season.
Gormley also believed if the Flyers don’t shop Carter to free up the necessary cap space, they will move Carle and Versteeg, whose combined salaries for next season are worth more than $6 million.
While Carter undoubtedly is more talented, his contract will be more difficult to move than those of Carle and Versteeg, who could be dealt in separate trades.
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 News.