As the shortened NHL season fast approaches, three notable players remain unsigned.
The ongoing contract talks of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly and Dallas Stars left winger Jamie Benn raise the possibility the trio could miss the start of the season on Saturday, and perhaps longer.
Their respective statuses have some observers wondering if one or more could be dealt should negotiations drag on.
Earlier this week, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin assured Montreal fans he has no intention of trading Subban, while Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported the Avalanche management has no intention of dealing away O'Reilly.
So far there have been no reports regarding the trade status of Benn, but it is well known Stars management wants him re-signed. They've reportedly offered him a multi-year deal worth around $5.5 million per season, but his agent claimed the winger would prefer a three-to-five-year deal.
It's difficult to determine how their respective scenarios will play out. Negotiations could go on for weeks or, as in the recent case of Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitri Kulikov, there could be swift resolution.
Lurking in the background is the possibility one of them could receive an offer sheet from a rival club.
Given the Canadiens, Avalanche and Stars have plenty of available cap space for this season, it's doubtful the offer sheet tactic would be successful. The only thing it would accomplish would be to bring those players swiftly under contract.
GOMEZ, REDDEN AVAILABLE TO HIGHEST BIDDER
Montreal Canadiens center Scott Gomez and New York Rangers defenseman Wade Redden cleared waivers Thursday and were bought out of the remainder of their respective contracts under the early compliance buyout plan.
The pair are now unrestricted free agents, but might not be unemployed for long.
The Philadelphia Flyers, with three blueliners (Andrej Meszaros, Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon) nursing injuries, might have some interest in Redden. So could the St. Louis Blues, who recently invited UFA D-man Colin White to a training camp tryout.
The Detroit Red Wings gave some consideration to Redden, but ultimately decided to pass.
Another club seeking defensive depth is the Ottawa Senators, the club where Redden played the bulk of his NHL career before joining the Rangers. Some Senators bloggers have pondered the possibility of his return.
The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren, however, reports the Senators have “no interest” in bringing Redden back.
CONNOLLY DEMOTED IN TORONTO
Another choice for clubs seeking depth at center is UFA Jason Arnott.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance recently reported Arnott had been contacted by three or four clubs, though he'd yet to receive an offer.
Another available center is Tim Connolly, whom the Toronto Maple Leafs placed on waivers Thursday.
It was speculated Connolly, like Gomez and Redden, might receive a compliance buyout, but if unclaimed he's expected to be demoted to the Leafs American League affiliate.
The move coincides with the promotion of center Nazem Kadri to the Leafs lineup, casting doubt upon rumors Kadri or center Tyler Bozak might be shipped to Vancouver as part of a package for goaltender Roberto Luongo before the start of the season.
The move could be seen as a showcase of Kadri for a possible Luongo trade, but GM Dave Nonis told ESPN's Pierre LeBrun he didn't want to trade young players for a short-term veteran fix.
HEMSKY TO REMAIN AN OILER
CBC's Elliotte Friedman recently reported Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini denied rumors that claimed he was shopping right winger Ales Hemsky for a defenseman.
Tambellini subsequently acquired rugged defenseman Mark Fistric from the Dallas Stars, putting to rest any further talk of Hemsky being moved for blueline help.
Considering the Oilers are testing Hemsky on a line with center Sam Gagner and rookie winger Nail Yakupov, it's apparent they have no plans to move him anytime soon.
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.