Only one month into the 2007-08 season and already the trade rumor mill is churning furiously.
But while much of what’s flying around makes for good discussion, it’s had little basis in reality.
As the old line goes, “Denial ain’t a river in Egypt,” and it was the word of the month for some general managers, coaches and players forced to respond to media-and internet-generated speculation.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero dismissed a rumor from TSN claiming he was considering his options due to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s slow start to the season.
Los Angeles Kings head coach Marc Crawford rejected as fantasy and fabrication an Ottawa Sun report claiming his club might shop forwards Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown for a starting goaltender.
Another Ottawa Sun rumor suggesting the Philadelphia Flyers were interested in Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris was quickly shot down by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were forced to deny defenseman Tomas Kaberle might be shopped after Hockeybuzz.com’s “Eklund” mused over the pros and cons of such a move.
Calgary’s Alex Tanguay was forced to issue a denial that he was unhappy playing for Flames coach Mike Keenan after reports out of Montreal in mid-October claimed he might be dealt to the Canadiens in exchange for Alex Kovalev. Tanguay also reminded everyone he had a “no-trade” clause and had no plans to leave the Flames.
This past July Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski denied reports he might waive his no-trade clause to accept a deal to the New York Islanders. Even that wasn’t enough to keep his name out of the rumor mill in October as he was frequently linked to the New York Rangers. Jovanovski didn’t bother to respond to that as it’s now widely believed he and his family are happily settled in Phoenix.
Even a Minnesota hockey reporter got into the denial business. A report of Pavol Demitra’s rumored unhappiness playing for Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire met with derision from Minneapolis Star-Tribune hockey pundit Michael Russo, claiming the rumor was a joke between reporters that got out of hand.
Denying trade rumors is nothing new for NHL teams, but it seems odd there are so many so early in this season since in today’s salary cap world major trades never occur in the first month of a new season.
That doesn’t mean the potential for an early season trade isn’t possible, as the pressure upon the general managers of struggling teams can push them into making what they hope will be a season-saving deal.
The San Jose Sharks dealing three players to the Boston Bruins for superstar Joe Thornton early in the 2005-06 season inevitably springs to mind, but that deal went down on the night of Nov. 30, nearly two months into the ‘05-06 season.
With 20 of the 30 NHL teams carrying more than $2 million in available cap space early in this season, the possibility does exist for a major early season trade.
Many of the general managers of those teams, however, will likely take a wait-and-see approach before using up any of that precious cap room.