Once all-star weekend is over there will be less than a month remaining until the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline. As a result, the list of potential trade candidates is growing. Here’s a look at the most notable names to appear in the rumor mill of late.
Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators
Suter made headlines on Friday when he said he won’t re-sign with the Predators by the trade deadline and preferred to postpone contract talks until season’s end. Given the Predators are jockeying for playoff positioning in the Western Conference, it’s unlikely they’ll trade Suter, but expect his name to remain a fixture in the rumor mill.
Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
Trade speculation has been dogging Parise since he and the Devils agreed to a one-year contract extension last summer, making him eligible for UFA status this summer. Concerns over the mounting debt of team ownership has cast doubt on the ability of Devils management to re-sign Parise and fuelled talk they’ll ship him out at the trade deadline. It’s hard to believe GM Lou Lamoriello would move his best player with the Devils battling for a playoff berth, but that’s not going to silence the rumor mongers leading up to Feb. 27.
Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets
TSN’s Darren Dreger claimed the 27-year-old center was “100 percent available,” but noted his hefty contract, which has nine years remaining at a annual cap hit of $5.3 million (including a full no-trade clause), would be difficult to move. If Carter is shopped the best bet is in the off-season and, even then, he’ll prove a tough sell.
Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported some teams were wondering if Morrow would be available if the Stars fall out of playoff contention by the deadline. The 33-year-old left winger still has another season remaining on his contract, with a full no-trade clause, so the Stars aren’t under any pressure to move him. Morrow would certainly attract considerable attention from playoff contenders if the Stars decide to shop him, but it remains to be seen if they’ll consider that option.
Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens
Kostitsyn, who turns 27 Feb. 3, is eligible for UFA status this summer. He recently said he’d be willing to re-sign with the Habs for less than market value, but the left winger may no longer fit into their future plans. Kostitsyn is on pace for his fourth 20-plus goal season, but the Canadiens expected much more from him.
Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Province suggested Raymond’s lack of offensive production could result in him being shopped, either for more blueline depth or a physical checking forward.
Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks
The parade of left wingers rumored to be available continues with Clowe, as he’s been linked to the Maple Leafs. Clowe is currently sidelined with a facial injury, but is expected to return before the trade deadline. The Leafs supposedly covet Clowe’s grit and leadership, but those are also the features that make him valuable to the Sharks, meaning GM Doug Wilson would want a significant return to part with him.
Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes
These two have been a permanent fixture in the rumor mill since early December. They’re both eligible for UFA status this summer and aren’t expected to be re-signed by the Hurricanes. The reason both haven’t been dealt yet is because Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford hopes to increase their trade value as the deadline approaches. Gleason has been linked to the Flyers, Blackhawks and Bruins, Ruutu with the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.
Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers
Of all the players rumored to be available leading up to this year’s trade deadline, the 28-year-old Hemsky is considered “most likely to be traded.” He’s been linked to the Blackhawks, Red Wings, Kings, Maple Leafs and Predators, but concern over his injury history and declining production may dampen his value.
Darren Dreger claimed Oilers GM Steve Tambellini wasn’t shopping the 22-year-old Gagner, but every time Tambellini talks to a rival GM about a defenseman, Gagner’s name comes up. The Oilers desperately need quality blueline depth and it could take Gagner to land a good defenseman, especially since there’s not many options available for the Oilers in this summer’s free agent market.
Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild
The Wild’s free-fall in the standings over the past six weeks had GM Chuck Fletcher seeking offensive help, leading to speculation Zidlicky will be available. He’s a five-time 40-plus point defenseman, but over the past two seasons his production has been in decline. Turning 35 on Feb. 3 and with one year (at $4 million) remaining on his contract, Zidlicky’s trade value isn’t as good as it once was.
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.