Brendan Shanahan finally decided to end his self-imposed exile in free agent limbo last week.
After waiting in vain for months hoping the New York Rangers would offer him a contract, Shanahan instructed his agent to contact other clubs.
It would be easy to pillory Rangers GM Glen Sather for asking the veteran right winger to be patient, but ultimately it was Shanahan’s decision to wait by the phone for a contract offer that clearly was not coming.
It was also understandable why Shanahan waited so long, as his family is now settled in New York. He was loath to uproot them again or spend too much time away from them playing in another city.
The problem he currently faces is there may not be as much of a market for his services as he would have found in the summer. Most teams have already committed their cap space for this season and they might wish to save whatever room remains for later in the year, preferably in the weeks leading up to the NHL’s March 4 trade deadline.
It is believed Shanahan hopes to stay in the U.S. Northeast, an opinion confirmed by Nashville Predators GM David Poile, who suggested as much in a recent interview with The Tennessean newspaper.
That sentiment could rule out a potential return to the St. Louis Blues, who contacted Shanahan’s agent, but made no offer, preferring to find out his intentions first.
The Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes were suggested as possible destinations earlier in October, but the Wings lack the cap space, while Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford claimed he had not been in contact with the Shanahan camp, although it is possible that may have changed.
Another possibility for a return was the New Jersey Devils, where Shanahan began his NHL career more than 20 years ago, but as usual GM Lou Lamoriello remains tight-lipped on his intentions.
The Montreal Canadiens tried to sign Shanahan two years ago, but GM Bob Gainey has said he has no interest in the veteran winger now. Gainey lacks the cap space to sign Shanahan and with his team off to a great start, he may not be keen to shake up his roster.
Forget about the Toronto Maple Leafs. GM Cliff Fletcher recently told the Toronto Sun he was not planning to make a pitch for Shanahan.
• The Atlanta Thrashers’ early season struggles led to talk of superstar left winger Ilya Kovalchuk being put on the trade block.
Last week, a report in Russia’s Sport-Express claimed the respective GMs of the Canadiens and Maple Leafs met with Thrashers GM Don Waddell in Chicago during the recent NHL GMs meetings.
An Internet rumor claimed the Pittsburgh Penguins might offer center Jordan Staal, defenseman Kristopher Letang and a first round pick for Kovalchuk.
The problem with these rumors is, like last month’s chatter about Minnesota Wild right winger Marian Gaborik and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, they have no basis in salary cap reality where the Canadiens and Penguins are concerned.
Kovalchuk is a genuine talent. Every NHL team would love to have him, but his roughly $6.4 million cap hit for both this season and next makes his salary difficult to move.
On Sunday, Fletcher denied speaking with Waddell, who also denied the Russian report.
It is far too early to start speculating about the Thrashers shopping Kovalchuk and unless he requests a trade, Waddell is not going to move him now, if at all.
• Ignore those rumors the Vancouver Canucks are shopping defenseman Mattias Ohlund to the Ottawa Senators.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis dismissed it, saying he has no intention or interest in moving Ohlund and reminded rumor-mongers of the veteran blueliner’s no-trade clause.
• Speaking of the Canucks, they remain interested in UFA center Mats Sundin, as are, reportedly, the Anaheim Ducks, Senators and Maple Leafs.
Of those teams, the only ones with the cap space to sign Sundin are the Canucks and Leafs. The Ducks and Senators may have a genuine interest, but they have to dump at least $6 million in cap space to sign him, something easier said than done and a course that could have an adverse impact on their respective rosters.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.