With only seven weeks remaining until the Feb. 26 trade deadline, media interest is turning toward this year’s crop of potential unrestricted free agents to determine those most likely to be dealt by the deadline.
Here’s a team-by-team look at notable UFAs who might be playing elsewhere by Feb. 26:
Anaheim Ducks: None. Recently acquired Doug Weight from St. Louis, but they aren’t about to shop him.
Atlanta Thrashers: Marian Hossa and Bobby Holik. The Thrashers hope to re-sign Hossa, but Holik could be shopped by the deadline if Atlanta is out of the playoff picture. The Thrashers recently acquired Mark Recchi and won’t be moving him.
Boston Bruins: Aaron Ward. It was speculated earlier in the season that Ward might be shopped, but the Bruins’ recent rash of injuries – Ward among them – should keep him in Boston.
Buffalo Sabres: Brian Campbell and Dmitri Kalinin. Campbell’s salary demands (reportedly five years, $25 million) are stalling the Sabres’ attempts to re-sign the high-scoring defenseman, but won’t force a trade. Kalinin might be expendable if there’s a requirement to fill a need elsewhere.
Carolina Hurricanes: Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore. GM Jim Rutherford is shopping for blueline depth, but he’s not about to part with these two.
Calgary Flames: Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius. It could be tough to re-sign both this summer, but the Flames will need them down the stretch and into the playoffs. They’ll finish the season in Calgary.
Chicago Blackhawks: Jason Williams, Martin Lapointe and Yanic Perreault. Williams was on pace for a career year until he got injured and GM Dale Tallon will try to retain him. Tallon is in the market for a defenseman and could try peddling Lapointe and/or Perreault to a Cup contender.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Sergei Fedorov, Adam Foote and Ron Hainsey. Fedorov and Foote have frequently appeared in the rumor mill, but if the Jackets are still in the playoff picture by late February they’ll remain in Columbus. Don’t expect the Jackets to shop Hainsey, who has blossomed under Ken Hitchcock’s coaching.
Colorado Avalanche: John-Michael Liles and Andrew Brunette. The Denver media has been suggesting since last summer that GM Francois Giguere might not re-sign Liles, and with Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth sidelined, Giguere might consider dealing him for a scoring forward. Brunette’s fallen off his 83-point pace this season, but given the injuries to Sakic and Smyth, probably won’t be dealt.
Dallas Stars: Mike Ribeiro and Mattias Norstrom. Ribeiro’s having a career year and his agent is already in talks with the Stars regarding a contract extension. Norstrom has struggled with injuries and consistency this season, but his experience could make him worth retaining for the playoffs.
Detroit Red Wings: Chris Osgood, Chris Chelios and Daniel Cleary. Osgood’s agent is in talks with Wings management, Chelios is probably a Wing for life and Cleary will likely re-sign well before the summer.
Edmonton Oilers: Dick Tarnstrom. If the Oilers aren’t in the playoff picture by February, Tarnstrom might be shopped for a draft pick.
Florida Panthers: None. The most significant potential UFA is Steve Montador, but GM Jacques Martin will probably try to re-sign him.
Los Angeles Kings: Rob Blake, Ladislav Nagy and Brad Stuart. Blake recently admitted he’d waive his “no-trade” clause if management requests it, which could prompt significant interest in him. Nagy could have value for clubs seeking offensive depth, although he hasn’t been much of a playoff performer. Stuart might also attract attention if Blake is unavailable, although Stuart’s stock has fallen over the last year.
Minnesota Wild: Pavol Demitra, Brian Rolston, Nick Schultz and Keith Carney. It remains to be seen if the Wild are willing to pony up the big bucks to retain Demitra, Rolston and Schultz, but they’re not about to trade them by the deadline. Carney, however, has been a frequent scratch this season and could be shopped in the coming weeks.
Montreal Canadiens: Cristobal Huet and Michael Ryder. Huet would have considerable trade value for the Habs, but their playoff hopes also rest with him so he won’t be dealt. Ryder has struggled to score this season, but there might be some interest in him from teams seeking second-line depth.
Nashville Predators: J-P Dumont. A few pundits have begun wondering if Dumont might be available by the trade deadline. He could be, but only if the Preds are out of the playoff chase by mid-February.
New Jersey Devils: None. GM Lou Lamoriello tried shopping defenseman Richard Matvichuk and even placed him on waivers, but ultimately found no takers.
New York Islanders: Miroslav Satan, Mike Comrie, Trent Hunter, Ruslan Fedotenko and Josef Vasicek. Satan and Comrie have the most value, but GM Garth Snow won’t part with them and it’s believed Snow intends to re-sign Fedotenko and Vasicek. That leaves Hunter as a possible trade candidate; perhaps for defensive depth.
New York Rangers: Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka, Paul Mara and Marek Malik. Forget about Shanahan and Straka going anywhere this season. Mara or Malik could be potential trade bait by the deadline.
Ottawa Senators: Wade Redden and Chris Kelly. Neither will be traded. Kelly is a valuable two-way forward and Redden has a “no-trade” clause that he has no intention of waiving this season.
Philadelphia Flyers: Jason Smith. The Flyers wish to retain him and are believed to be negotiating with his agent for an extension, so don’t expect him to be moved.
Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov and Radim Vrbata. The former has provided the Coyotes with quality goaltending while the latter is almost a point-per-game forward. Management is intent on retaining them.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Gary Roberts and Jarkko Ruutu. All have popped up in speculations this season, but given their value to a surging Penguins team they’re not going anywhere. Roberts’ broken leg also takes him out of the mix.
San Jose Sharks: None. Aging warhorse Jeremy Roenick might attract interest if GM Doug Wilson were to start rebuilding by the deadline, but as long as Wilson sticks with his current roster, that’s not going to happen.
St. Louis Blues: Barrett Jackman. The Blues have too many defensemen and lack offensive depth beyond their first line, which could make the 2003 rookie of the year a valuable bargaining chip by the trade deadline.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Dan Boyle and Vaclav Prospal. The season is fast slipping away from the Lightning unless GM Jay Feaster is allowed to swing a possible season-saving trade. Forget about Lecavalier, Richards and St-Louis; the more likely trade bait could be Boyle and Prospal.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mats Sundin. His name keeps appearing in the rumor mill every time the Leafs struggle, which is happening a lot this season. He’d be a valuable, but expensive playoff rental player and could re-sign with the Leafs this summer, but ultimately only Sundin – who has a not-trade clause – can make that decision.
Vancouver Canucks: Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Matt Cooke. Naslund and Morrison won’t be moved, particularly the latter as he’s sidelined by a wrist injury. Cooke’s star, however, appears to have faded which makes him expendable.
Washington Capitals: Olaf Kolzig. The Caps are still hopeful of battling back into the playoff picture and to do that they’ll need Kolzig, so forget about him becoming trade bait.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, www.spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.