It was only a matter of time until the continuing nightmare in Columbus gave rise to trade rumors involving the team’s top players.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson told ESPN.com last Thursday he hasn’t brought up right winger Rick Nash in his trade discussions.
Other teams have inquired about Nash, but Howson told them his captain isn’t available.
Some in the media and blogosphere mused over how long Nash would stick with the sad-sack Jackets, but his agent told ESPN Nash “has never asked for a trade” and remained committed to helping the team reverse its fortunes.
Just as the Nash rumors were scuttled came reports accredited to French-Canadian sports network RDS, claiming center Jeff Carter was unhappy in Columbus and wanted out.
The response were swift, strong denials from Howson, Carter’s agent Rick Curran and Carter himself, who said he had no idea where that rumor came from, as he’d never spoken with anyone from RDS, let alone demanded a trade.
Howson continues to make calls around the league and is believed to be seeking a goaltender, though it’s also been suggested he’s trying to move players, such as Antoine Vermette ($3.8 million per season) and Derick Brassard ($3.3 million per season), in salary-dumping deals.
Teams are also believed to have interest in promising rookie right winger/center Ryan Johansen, but like Nash and Carter, he’s not available.
The Chicago Blackhawks freed up more than $3 million in cap space last week by demoting left winger Rostislav Olesz to the minors.
Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reported GM Stan Bowman now has $6-7 million to use if needed to add more depth to his lineup.
Bowman admitted to keeping an eye on some players, though he didn’t specify which ones. He said no teams are ready to give up on their season at this point in time and despite the rumors, he’s not working on any deals right now.
Jahns believes Bowman will fill his extra cap space near the trade deadline, when non-playoff clubs traditionally shop players they can’t afford to re-sign.
Despite back-to-back losses to Calgary and Edmonton Friday and Saturday, the Blackhawks remain near the top of the Western Conference, so Bowman isn’t under pressure to make any trades.
There was talk he was seeking a third-line center, but the return of Dave Bolland from injury addresses that issue.
NHL.com correspondent Brian Hedger also reported he’d been told by an insider the Blackhawks signed goaltender Ray Emery primarily for his trade value. Hedger wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs were interested.
Currently sidelined Leafs starter James Reimer is expected to return to action by week’s end, so until then Toronto will likely stick with the current tandem of Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens.
INJURIES TROUBLE OILERS
Injuries are mounting for the Edmonton Oilers defense corps.
Entering this week, the Oilers have two regular blueliners – Ryan Whitney (knee injury) and Cam Barker (ankle surgery) – on injured reserve, while Corey Potter (sprained ankle) is sidelined indefinitely and Andy Sutton (pulled groin) is listed as “day-to-day.”
The team called up blueliners Colten Teubert and Taylor Chorney, but if they struggle, it’ll provide more grist for the rumor mill.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun wondered if the Oilers had any interest in Senators blueliners Filip Kuba or Brian Lee who’ve been frequent targets for Ottawa trade rumors the past couple of years.
One rumor making the rounds had the Oilers shipping either center Sam Gagner or demoted left winger Linus Omark to the Toronto Maple Leafs for little-used defenseman Cody Franson, but with veteran Leafs blueliner Mike Komisarek out for eight weeks with a broken arm, Franson won’t be going anywhere.
RED WINGS STAY CALM
The Detroit Red Wings’ roller-coaster start to the season hasn’t spurred GM Ken Holland to call around for help.
Holland recently told the Detroit Free Press it wasn’t his “M.O.” to use a slow start as a reason to test the trade market, pointing out his team is still in the thick of the standings.
Holland isn’t concerned by the slow start of stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and instead expected it’s only a matter of time until they produce points at their usual pace.
Holland also noted he’d recently attended the NHL GMs meeting and claimed, “there is no trade talk around the league.”
In other words, if Holland was looking for a deal, no one else is at the present time.
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.