TSN analyst Dave Hodge created quite a stir late last week when he tweeted members of Jason Spezza’s family believed the Ottawa center could be headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hodge said he didn’t believe it, but the family members did.
Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch didn’t put any stock into the possibility of the Senators shipping Spezza to their arch rival, pointing out the last round of rumors concerning the center occurred early last summer and quickly disappeared and Spezza bought into the club’s rebuilding program.
The possibility of Senators GM Bryan Murray shipping his top center to the hated Maple Leafs is absurd, but that didn’t stop some in the blogosphere from salivating over the prospect of Spezza’s availability.
Spezza remains under contract with the Senators until the end of the 2014-15 season. The cap hit has annual average of $7 million and comes with a no-trade clause, allowing him to choose potential destinations if he were to be shopped. That contract makes him nearly impossible to trade.
PREDATORS LOOKING TO ADD FLYERS?
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz told John Manasso of Fox Sports Tennessee that GM David Poile isn’t done looking at adding players to bolster their roster, though it would have to be “the right players.”
Trotz cited the February acquisition of center Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators made it possible for the Predators to clinch a playoff berth. He claimed Poile was on the lookout for “the next Mike Fisher,” which could be interpreted as finding another skilled two-way forward.
Manasso observed the Predators have approximately $14.2 million in cap space this season and suggested the Buffalo Sabres (sitting nearly $3.6 million over the $64.3 million cap ceiling) and Philadelphia Flyers (with only $175,000 in available space) are possible trade targets.
Remembering the Flyers and Predators had a trade history, Manasso suggested the possibility of acquiring either right wingers Max Talbot or Wayne Simmonds or reacquiring former Predator left winger Scott Hartnell.
While Nashville has a lot of cap space, it’ll be surprising if this cost-conscious club spends half their room over the course of the season.
The Flyers current cap space fails to take into account Ian Laperriere and his $1.2 million salary, which will be going on long-term injury reserve to start the season.
If Flyers GM Paul Holmgren were inclined to make a cost-cutting trade, it probably won’t involve Talbot or Simmonds, who were acquired over the off-season. Hartnell remains a key member of the Flyers core and also carries a no-trade clause.
Hartnell also recently had a health scare when he suffered an elevated heart rate after the second period of a pre-season game against Detroit and is slated to see a cardiologist this week.
As for the Sabres, they placed veteran right winger Ales Kotalik ($3 million) and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn ($2.1 million) on waivers and it’s expected they’ll either be demoted to the minors or loaned to European teams. Either way, moving their salaries will put the Sabres comfortably under the cap without having to give up a quality player via trade.
RANGERS STILL SHOPPING?
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal continues to feel the effects of post-concussion symptoms, which increases the possibility he could miss the start of this season and led to speculation the Blueshirts will seek a short-term replacement via trade or free agency.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported New York had some interest in blueliner Chris Campoli when he became a UFA back in July (after the Chicago Blackhawks rejected his $2.5 million arbitration award), but his agent, Rich Evans, said they haven’t contacted him recently.
Brooks claimed insiders said the Rangers are keeping that option open in the event Staal could be sidelined to start the season, believing it’s one they’re expected to explore.
Evans dismissed the perception his client might be too expensive to sign because of that arbitration award, claiming that was merely an arbitration number and he hadn’t discussed a “price point” with anyone yet.
Cap space, however, is an issue for the Rangers, who currently have around $1.4 million available, which includes Staal’s $4 million cap hit.
If Staal is placed on long-term injury reserve to start the season, that would create more than enough space to sign Campoli or another veteran blueliner. Depending on how much that would cost, however, they would still have to free up cap space later in the season once Staal is ready to return to the lineup.
OILERS WANT TO MOVE SOME PUCK
The Rangers could face competition in their possible search for a puck-moving defenseman from the Edmonton Oilers.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported landing another experienced puck-moving blueliner is a top priority for the Oilers, especially with Ryan Whitney still nursing a sore right ankle
Matheson noted the availability of Campoli and Bryan McCabe, but added Oilers management could take a “wait-and-see approach” through October and early November with this issue.
They’ll likely sit back and hope Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker can regain their former 40-point forms, but if Whitney remains hampered by injury and those two don’t step up offensively, it will force management to seek help sooner than expected.
If Edmonton can’t find what they’re seeking via free agency, the Oilers do have the depth in young assets to use as trade bait to land an experienced offensive defenseman.
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.