OTTAWA – It must be the day before the draft. Rumors of blockbuster trades in Canada’s capital are more plentiful than government employees.
Some of them have legs, some don’t. Jason Spezza to Los Angeles? Uh, no.
Evgeni Malkin to L.A.? Get real.
One or both Sedin twins leaving Vancouver? You’re gettin’ warmer.
Pavel Kubina, Patrick Marleau, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Joni Pitkanen? Now you’re talking baby.
Anytime you put 30 GMs in the same city with the entry draft as the backdrop and free agency a week away, trade talk is going to surface. And there is very real trade banter going on here with teams trying to do everything from move up in the draft to make a trade of significant impact.
But Senators GM Bryan Murray, who acknowledged there is some action out there, said reports of Spezza going anywhere on draft day are preposterous.
“You (media) guys make up more stories than I can even imagine,” Murray said. “I don’t know where all this stuff comes from. I heard (Wednesday) night that Pittsburgh was going to move one of their stars. I called their manager to see if I could be included in the discussions and they kind of laughed at me.”
Murray’s Vancouver counterpart, Mike Gillis, wasn’t quite as dismissive when he spoke about the possibility of the Sedins being moved. The twins’ agent, J.P. Barry, told a Vancouver newspaper he “wouldn’t be surprised,” if they were traded, citing that both are set to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Gillis acknowledged that he has received a number of proposals for the Sedins, but isn’t pursuing anything at the moment.
“We are not actively trying to trade the Sedins in any form,” Gillis said. “A lot of teams have been calling, but we are trying to sign them long-term.”
Notice Gillis’s use of language. The Canucks are not trying to trade them and are trying to sign them long-term, which isn’t exactly an outright repudiation of the speculation that’s going on. Most observers would be surprised if it happened this weekend, but it could be something that happens down the road.
Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey acknowledged there are a number of quality players who are up for grabs based on the conversations he has had with other GMs leading up to the draft.
“There are good players that are available that, depending on your needs, can help your team,” Gainey said. “Teams that weren’t prepared to trade a player (at the trade deadline) in February are prepared to trade some of those players now.”
A number of other developments emerged from Thursday’s proceedings:
* While Gainey didn’t come out and say he would make a pitch for Mats Sundin as a free agent July 1, he certainly left that impression after speaking with the media Thursday afternoon.
When asked whether signing unrestricted free agent Mark Streit was a priority, Gainey said the team doesn’t want to make any moves that will render it a bystander July 1.
“We’d like to be able to play in the unrestricted free agent market,” Gainey said. “We need to know how and where we could spend our money if we get the chance and we don’t want to arrive on July 1 and not have space in our budget to attract a player who’s available.
“We’re just trying to stay active if we can. We’re in that part of a cycle of developing a team where we have younger players who are dynamic enough and that allow us enough space to look at the possibility of a $6 or $7 million player if he was there.”
Which is precisely what Sundin will command if, as expected, he hits the free agent market July 1.
* A source close to the Los Angles Kings said the team has decided to keep the second overall pick, but is still torn on whether to take Guelph Storm defenseman Drew Doughty or Peterborough Petes blueliner Zach Bogosian.
The Kings, however, have the 28th and 32nd overall picks and are trying to package those to move up in the first round.
* The Toronto Maple Leafs’ window to trade Pavel Kubina opens Friday and the sentiment is he’ll be dealt to the San Jose Sharks, a team that tried to get him at the deadline, but could not because he invoked his no-trade clause.
The Leafs, meanwhile, are said to be trying to move up to No. 5 from No. 7 to get one of two defensemen they think will be available, Tyler Myers or Luke Schenn.
“There’s nothing on the front burner with the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher said Thursday afternoon.
* Should the Sharks get Kubina, it would mean defenseman Brian Campbell would be on the move. In fact, Sharks GM Doug Wilson sent all GMs a memo saying he’d accept a trade for Campbell’s rights, which would allow any team acquiring him exclusive negotiation rights until July 1.
* Olli Jokinen has apparently told the Florida Panthers he’d welcome a trade and could be dealt. One possibility is the Canucks, who have the 10th overall pick.
* Alex Tanguay might not fit into Calgary’s salary structure and could be moved.
* Joni Pitkanen is being shopped by the Oilers.
The Hockey News will cover the NHL Entry Draft from all angles with live coverage and up-to-the-minute pick-by-pick updates on both June 20 and 21 in our Draft Central and a live blog from THN’s Ryan Kennedy during the first round.
Ken Campbell, a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com, is at the NHL Draft in Ottawa covering the event. His blog normally appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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