The Dec. 19 holiday roster freeze is less than two weeks away. That will generate an uptick in rumors involving players who’ve been frequent subjects of trade gossip this season.
Here’s a look at several of those players and the reasons why trading them is easier said than done.
Alexander Semin (RW), Washington Capitals
He’s been a fixture in the rumor mill since last season and with the Capitals collapsing in the standings, speculation over a Semin deal is on the rise.
While he’s carrying an expensive cap hit this season ($6.7 million), he’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, so there’s no concern of a long-term deal adversely affecting future payrolls of interested clubs.
The other benefit is more than half of Semin’s salary will be paid out by the trade deadline, making him more attractive as a rental player for teams seeking offensive depth down the stretch and into the playoffs.
What makes him a tough sell, however, is his poor performance this season (Only 10 points in 24 games) and his reputation for fading in the heat of post-season action.
Capitals GM George McPhee could attempt to move Semin early in the New Year, hoping a rival GM will gamble on the 27-year-old regaining his scoring touch.
But even if Semin’s performance doesn’t pick up in the coming weeks, it’s just as likely he’ll finish the season in Washington. What happens after is anyone’s guess at this point.
Derick Brassard (C), Columbus Blue Jackets
As the Blue Jackets continue to struggle, scarcely a week goes by without Brassard’s name popping up in rumors that usually link him with the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames and other clubs in need of depth at center.
It’s believed those teams are willing to roll the dice on Brassard because of the chance a change will benefit his play, the fact he’s still only 24, and because his $3.2-million cap hit becomes more affordable as the season goes on.
The problem, however, is Brassard’s contract isn’t just for this season, but through the end of 2013-14, making him an expensive gamble, especially for teams that have to watch their dollars in the face of a new CBA next season.
Tomas Kaberle (D), Carolina Hurricanes
The struggling Hurricanes have been shopping Kaberle, but aren’t finding takers for his three-year, $4.25-million-per-season contract.
The Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets rejected an offer of Kaberle and a second round pick for Brassard last month.
The fact the most desperate team in the league wasn’t willing to swap Brassard’s bad contract for Kaberle’s says all we need to know about the latter’s trade value.
Jarome Iginla (RW), Calgary Flames
Iginla, his agent and Flames GM Jay Feaster have repeatedly (and in Feaster’s case, vehemently) denied the trade rumors.
Though the denials won’t fully put an end to the trade chatter, don’t expect to see him wearing another team’s jersey this season.
Roberto Luongo (G), Vancouver Canucks
Despite Luongo’s expensive contract, some Canucks fans and rumor bloggers keep dreaming up trade scenarios whereby the Canucks could shed Luongo’s contract and retain promising – and more affordable – Cory Schneider.
It’s not the $5.3-million cap hit that makes Luongo impossible to move, nor his no-trade clause, but the term of the contract.
Luongo’s deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2021-22 season, when he’ll be 43 years old. Even if he retires well before then, there aren’t any GMs at this time willing to take on a contract of that length, especially considering no one knows what the next collective bargaining agreement will look like.
Scott Gomez (C), Montreal Canadiens
Gomez’s declining production over the past two seasons have Habs fans calling for him to be dealt. The problem is his expensive contract makes him untradeable.
Those who refuse to believe his contract is an impediment to a trade point to the Canadiens acquiring him from the New York Rangers in June 2009. What they overlook, however, is his value as a playmaking center has significantly dropped since then.
In June 2009, Gomez was only one year removed from his fourth 70-point season. That summer, the Canadiens overhauled their lineup and the addition of a skilled playmaker with Stanley Cup experience was a necessary part of the equation, which is why they were willing to take on Gomez’s hefty $7.4-million cap hit.
Two years later, Gomez’s better days are over and he’s been plagued by a nagging groin injury. When several teams last summer needed to spend considerable money to get above the salary cap “floor” of $48.3 million, none expressed interest in Gomez.
If there weren’t any takers for Gomez then, there certainly won’t be any during the season, when teams have less cap space to work with and even less willingness to take on big contracts.
Rumor Focus appears Tuesdays 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 Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.