Internet-generated trade rumors involving Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle and New York Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky were swiftly shot down earlier this week by ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun and the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson.
LeBrun reported Kaberle’s agent, Rick Curran, denied his client would be available via trade, noting it was their understanding that unless Kaberle requested a trade Maple Leafs management wouldn’t ask him to waive his no-trade clause. Curran denied the recent rumors were coming from his side, while LeBrun pointed out the recent injury to Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf rules out the possibility Kaberle will be available.
Matheson, in response to a reader’s email, said he was unaware of any interest by the Edmonton Oilers in Dubinsky and doesn’t believe the Rangers are shopping the young center.
Both rumors are silly. Leafs GM Brian Burke has repeatedly claimed he’s not going to ask Kaberle to lift his trade clause and the fact the Rangers have lost centers Vaclav Prospal and Chris Drury to injury douses any notion of Dubinsky being traded.
Of course, it’s possible Kaberle will change his mind near the trade deadline and consider waiving his clause to go to a Stanley Cup contender, but that decision will have to come from him and he won’t be pressured by Burke to do so.
Dubinsky, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent next summer, so the Rangers have little reason to consider trading him this season.
STRUGGLING TEAMS HARD-PRESSED TO FIND A TRADE PARTNER
Add the Anaheim Ducks to a growing list of struggling teams shopping in vain for help.
GM Bob Murray told the Orange County Register in a recent interview he’d been in contact with his peers around the league and has kept an eye on teams like Boston, New Jersey, Calgary and Vancouver, teams that are technically over the salary cap, but due to players on the long-term injury reserve, are able to remain cap compliant.
However, Murray said there’s not much actual trade negotiating going on, just struggling teams talking to each other.
Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier has also been working the phones, but like Murray has been unable to find any suitable deals this early in the season.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke recently told Toronto radio station FAN 590 if an opportunity to improve his team presents itself he’d act upon it, but because of the salary cap he has to wait for that opportunity.
That’s the harsh early-season reality under a salary cap system. GMs desperate to make moves are either handcuffed by the salary cap or cannot find peers with available cap space willing to deal with them at this time.
Instead, those GMs are forced to be patient, look within their organization to resolve their problems and wait until either a rival becomes so cap-strapped they’re forced to dump salary or for mid-season when player salaries become more affordable to swap.
Unfortunately, that point in the season tends to be too late to help most struggling teams.
The days of GMs trading their way out of early-season trouble are long gone and if they don’t get their ducks in a row at the start of the season, they risk putting their team in a hole too deep to climb out of.
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.