Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was a very busy man this past weekend, re-signing goaltender Jonas Hiller to a four-year, $18-million contract extension and freeing up some cap space for next season by shipping former starter J-S Giguere to Toronto in exchange for backup goalie Vesa Toskala and veteran winger Jason Blake.
One move Murray won’t make, however, is trading winger Bobby Ryan, recently telling ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun he intended to re-sign Ryan in the off-season.
Ryan is currently third on the Ducks in points and leads the team in goals, so it’s little wonder Murray hopes to retain the RFA-to-be beyond this season.
Murray’s recent moves free up an additional $2 million in cap space for next season, which will likely go toward re-signing the sophomore forward.
• Another week, another series of rumors on the trade status of Atlanta Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk.
Talks between the Bruins and Thrashers apparently hit a snag when Atlanta insisted on the inclusion of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2010 first round draft pick (that Boston acquired from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade), which Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has no intention of moving.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Thrashers are believed to be seeking “four or five assets” for Kovalchuk, including a young roster player(s) plus a combination of draft picks and prospects.
USA Today’s Kevin Allen reported the Thrashers haven’t given any teams permission to talk contract with the Kovalchuk camp and aren’t expected to do so.
Multiple sources told the Philadelphia Daily News the Flyers weren’t interested in Kovalchuk, as it would mean blowing up their roster to fit his salary under the cap for this season.
It remains to be seen what becomes of Kovalchuk in the coming weeks, but if the Thrashers’ asking price stays high and management continues to deny interested GMs from talking contract with the superstar’s agent, it’s less likely he’ll be dealt by the March 3 trade deadline.
• Vincent Lecavalier’s agent recently addressed speculation his client might be shopped by the trade deadline if the Tampa Bay Lightning is sold to Boston financier Jeffrey Vinik.
Kent Hughes said he hasn’t spoken with Vinik, nor has the Lightning approached the Lecavalier camp about a trade.
“It seems that any time there’s mention of the Lightning outside Tampa Bay, it involves speculation about a Vinny Lecavalier trade,” Hughes told the St. Petersburg Times, adding after two years of speculation they’ve grown immune to it.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune recently reminded everyone Lecavalier controls his future, not the current or potentially incoming ownership of the Lightning, thanks to his “no-movement” clause.
Unless Lecavalier seeks a trade or agrees to waive his clause he’s not going anywhere and so far there’s no indication he’s considering either option.
• Scratch Sheldon Souray’s name from the list of potential deadline “trade bait.”
Souray fractured his hand in a fight Saturday with Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, which if not potentially season-ending, should sideline him well past March 3.
• Carolina Hurricanes left winger Ray Whitney could be among the most sought-after players at this year’s trade deadline.
TSN hockey analysts Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie offered up the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators as potential destinations for Whitney.
However, Senators GM Bryan Murray recently suggested his club’s surge in the standings might stay his hand at the deadline, while Penguins GM Ray Shero might lack the disposable assets to make a significant deadline deal compared to the past two years.
• Speaking of the Penguins, an interesting report in Sunday’s Columbus Post-Dispatch claimed Shero had been talking trade with the Blue Jackets regarding left winger Raffi Torres, but center R. J. Umberger might be of more interest to the Penguins.
Apparently Shero is seeking more than just a playoff rental player, which Torres – an unrestricted free agent this summer – would be. Umberger is signed through the 2011-12 season.
Making room for Umberger’s $3.75 million per season cap hit would be a problem for the Penguins, leading the Dispatch to wonder if the Pens would be willing to part with defenseman Kris Letang and a draft pick should they re-sign defenseman Sergei Gonchar.
Doing that would leave the Penguins woefully thin on the blueline. Only Brooks Orpik and Alex Goligoski are signed beyond this season, while Gonchar is an unrestricted free agent and Letang a restricted free agent.
While they could undoubtedly use more depth at forward, specifically on the wings, the problem is the Penguins currently have more than $41 million committed to 13 players for next season. Adding Umberger’s salary would push that above $44 million, leaving precious little cap space to fill in the rest of the lineup.
The Penguins might look to add depth at the trade deadline, but don’t be surprised if it’s another rental player like Torres.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.