Could the Columbus Blue Jackets be a destination for disgruntled Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray?
That’s the suggestion from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, who first posed the possibility last week by writing the Blue Jackets would be a fit for Souray if the club continued to struggle offensively along the blueline during training camp.
The possibility appeared more plausible Monday when Portzline reported Souray was on the Blue Jackets’ radar. GM Scott Howson declined to comment and wants to evaluate his roster before pursuing any trades.
Portzline noted the Oilers have the cap space to take on a big contract and that they want a defenseman in return, leading to the suggestion Mike Commodore – owed a cap hit of $3.75 million per season for the next three years – would be a trade candidate.
The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples considered this the first Souray trade rumor he’s heard that makes sense – though he’s uncertain if it would be a good one-for-one deal. However, Journal columnist Jim Matheson reported there doesn’t appear to have been any trade discussions between the two clubs.
The one factor that makes this rumor plausible is desperation.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini would certainly love to move Souray (though he won’t admit it), while Howson, given a recent knee injury to defenseman Kris Russell, is going to start feeling the pinch to land an experienced puckmoving defenseman.
BIEKSA STILL ON THE BLOCK?
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa has been considered a trade candidate for the Vancouver Canucks since early July when he was linked to the Blue Jackets in a rumored swap for young winger Nikita Filatov.
That deal never materialized, but it hasn’t kept Bieksa’s name out of the rumor mill even though fellow blueliner Sami Salo is currently sidelined indefinitely with a torn Achilles tendon.
At some point when Salo and winger Alex Burrows return from long-term injury reserve (they’ll officially be moved to that status when the season opens) the Canucks will have to dump salary to become cap compliant, but Bieksa isn’t necessarily the guy who will move.
Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman recently told the Vancouver Sun it would be “presumptuous” to assume Bieksa would be an automatic trade candidate.
The paper observed the Canucks could move or demote defensemen Andrew Alberts and Shane O’Brien, whose combined salaries reach nearly 2.7 million.
The Canucks are currently above the cap by $3.1 million, according to capgeek.com, but with Salo ($3.5 million) out until at least mid-season they’re in no hurry to move anyone at this time.
WILL THE LEAFS DUMP FINGER?
Another club that was believed to be planning to trade or demote a defenseman to get under the cap was the Toronto Maple Leafs, with veteran blueliner Jeff Finger and his $3.5 million cap hit considered as the prime candidate.
The Leafs, however, are only above the cap by about $275,000, so they don’t have to dump that much salary. Senior vice-president of hockey operations Dave Nonis recently told the Toronto Sun no decision had been made regarding Finger, which suggests if the blueliner has a strong camp he could still be on the Leafs roster when they begin the regular season.
BAD NEWS BEARS
Bad news continues to dog Boston Bruins center Marc Savard this year.
After recovering from a late-season concussion, facing criticism for his playoff performance in the Bruins’ collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers, dealing with questions over the validity of his contract and living with his name being the subject of trade rumors over the summer, Savard has been sidelined indefinitely by post-concussion symptoms, likely tied to his injury last March.
This news effectively kills any lingering speculation over Savard’s trade status and also means the Bruins won’t have much luck shopping him in the future. Players with a history of concussions tend to be difficult to swap.
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.