Ottawa Senators right winger Alex Kovalev voiced his displeasure late last week over his reduction in ice time and relegation to the club’s fourth line.
The Ottawa Sun reported Kovalev and his agent insisted they weren’t seeking a trade, though Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch suggested the way the disgruntled winger was talking it sounded as though he’d waive his no-movement clause if a trade came along.
Problem is, a trade isn’t likely to come along, at least not at this point in the season. Kovalev’s $5-million salary is simply too expensive for rival clubs to take on and his slumping performance won’t bolster his trade value.
Garrioch cited sources claiming the injury-depleted St. Louis Blues had interest in Kovalev, but they lack the available cash to take on his expensive contract.
Some observers recently suggested the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens bringing back Kovalev, but the Habs have moved on and no longer have interest in their former winger.
BUT THE CANADIENS MAY STILL BE PLAYERS IN THE TRADE MARKET
With Andrei Markov and the remainder of his $5.75 million salary expected to end up on long-term injury reserve due to his season-ending knee surgery, Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier would have available dollars to be a significant player at the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
RDS.ca’s Renaud Lavoie recently wondered if Gauthier would pursue Dallas Stars center Brad Richards should he become available later in the season.
Lavoie makes a good point about how the teams most often linked to Richards in trade rumors (New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs) either lack the cap space to take on the center’s big salary or the young players needed to pry him out of Dallas.
Of course, Richards would have to agree to waive his no-movement clause to accept a move to Montreal and there’s no guarantee the Habs could afford to re-sign him before his eligibility next summer as an unrestricted free agent.
But the Habs would have the available cap space and some young players (Yannick Weber, Max Pacioretty) who might be attractive to the Stars.
Don’t expect, however, the Canadiens to land Richards by offering up center Scott Gomez or to shop him to another NHL team this season.
Adam Proteau replied recently to a reader’s question on that subject, noting Gomez’s big salary and low production this season makes him almost impossible to trade.
Gomez also possesses a limited no-trade clause that would restrict the number of potential trade destinations.
As Proteau suggested, if the Canadiens wish to rid themselves of Gomez’s contract their best opportunity might come in the next CBA if there’s an amnesty period allowing them to buy out contracts without penalty.
LIGHTNING NEED GOALTENDING UPGRADE
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s struggling goaltenders has fuelled speculation GM Steve Yzerman will look for help between the pipes prior to the February trade deadline.
One target could be Florida’s Tomas Vokoun, whom the Ottawa Sun suggested may be shopped by the trade deadline for a first round draft pick, while the Edmonton Journal‘s Jim Matheson believed Dwayne Roloson of the New York Islanders would be a more affordable fit for the Bolts.
The Lightning’s Dan Ellis and Mike Smith currently have the worst goals-against average and save percentage of all tandems in the league this season. If their poor play continues it will pose a serious threat to Tampa’s playoff hopes unless an upgrade can be found.
LEAFS IN LOCKDOWN MODE
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke’s self-imposed holiday “trade freeze” period went into effect Dec. 9.
Some observers question Burke’s decision given the problems facing his club, believing it would be best if he kept shopping for a deal up to the Dec. 19 commencement of the league-wide trade freeze.
That assumes, however, there’s a trade to be had at this time of the year that would bolster the Leafs’ fortunes. There isn’t, so it really doesn’t matter that Burke ceased shopping on the ninth.
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.