If the Vancouver Canucks need to dump salary for defenseman Sami Salo’s return to action, they reportedly won’t shop defensemen Kevin Bieksa or Christian Ehrhoff.
Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun speculated Canucks’ management could consider shipping out a third line forward such as Mikael Samuelsson or Raffi Torres. He also suggested the possibility of shopping defenseman Keith Ballard, but given his lengthy and expensive contract he’ll likely remain a Canuck.
Torres carries an affordable one-year, $1 million deal. Samuelsson has another season at $2.5 million remaining on his contract, but his reputation as a proven playoff performer will make him more enticing to other teams.
Ben Kuzma of The Vancouver Province also speculated Torres or Samuelsson could become cap casualties, along with defenseman Aaron Rome, should Salo return before the trade deadline.
He also noted GM Mike Gillis isn’t in any particular rush to make such a move as Salo, who tore an Achilles tendon last summer, still hasn’t been medically cleared to play and doesn’t have full range of motion yet.
When the time comes, Gillis will address this situation and while he has several options, moving Bieksa or Ehrhoff isn’t among them.
All of this, however, could become a moot point by the trade deadline if Salo is still on injured reserve. Gillis would still have to shed salary if the blueliner returns after Feb. 28, but would then do so via waivers and demotion to the minors.
PANTHERS STILL HANGING ON
As the Florida Panthers’ playoff hopes fade and with the NHL trade deadline less than six weeks away, it’s widely assumed GM Dale Tallon will start shopping players he won’t or can’t afford to re-sign following this season.
Topping the list of trade candidates is veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who has made a career of posting solid numbers for mediocre teams and would be highly prized should he hit the trade market in the coming weeks.
Tallon, however, is not only not giving up on this season, he’s also not giving up on attempts to re-sign Vokoun.
Harvey Fialkov of sun-sentinel.com reported talks between the two sides have been ongoing over a possible contract extension. Tallon denied speculation Vokoun was a goner by the deadline, adding the goalie is interested in staying and the Panthers are interested in keeping him if it makes sense.
Tallon didn’t elaborate what would make sense for the Panthers, but the 34-year-old Vokoun, though still playing well, isn’t getting any younger. A two- or three-year term might be acceptable, but it could become more difficult to find common ground on the dollars.
Vokoun currently earns a cap hit of $5.7 million and it’s possible he’ll be offered more than that in this summer’s UFA market, though given the high number of teams with limited cap space for next season, combined with uncertainty over a new CBA, such offers could be hard to find.
If the two sides fail to reach an agreement before the trade deadline Vokoun could still be shopped, but if Tallon can convince the veteran netminder to stay for a reasonable deal it’ll be a significant accomplishment.
MAPLE LEAFS STILL SEARCHING FOR TRADES
Burke doubts things will improve before he and his rivals are in Carolina at month’s end for the all-star weekend.
He did make a trade this week, although it’s far from the blockbuster Leafs fans were praying for, acquiring winger Fabian Brunnstrom from the Dallas Stars.
As the Toronto Sun noted, if the Leafs could light a fire under Brunnstrom they’ll have done well with this deal, but for now he’s headed to their American League affiliate.
BLUE JACKETS SHOPPING COMMODORE
The Columbus Blue Jackets have demoted defenseman Mike Commodore to their minor league affiliate in Springfield for the time being, while management continues shopping him around the NHL.
That won’t be easy given his $3.75 million cap hit. Re-entry waivers might be the only realistic way to move him before the trade deadline this season.
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.