Right winger Teemu Selanne has been among the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Anaheim Ducks. He’s on pace for 79 points – a remarkable achievement for the 41-year-old star.
Sitting 14th overall in the Western Conference and nearly 20 points out of a playoff spot, the Ducks’ post-season hopes are all but dashed, giving rise to speculation they’ll shop Selanne near the Feb. 27 trade deadline to a Stanley Cup contender.
Selanne, however, told the Orange County Register he hasn’t given much thought toward seeking a trade and maintains his belief the Ducks can still make the playoffs, a goal he wants to help them achieve.
If he did become available, there would be no lack of suitors for Selanne, as playoff contenders would welcome his experience and offensive skills.
Ducks GM Bob Murray stated several weeks ago Selanne would retire a Duck and repeated that claim to the Register earlier this week via a spokesman.
Selanne would likely have to request a trade for Murray to change his mind. The ‘Finnish Flash’ has a no-movement clause in his contract, with a cap hit of $4 million, though more than half of that would be paid out by deadline day, making him a more affordable acquisition.
That clause, however, limits the potential destinations and there’s no guarantee Selanne, who won a Cup with the Ducks in 2007, will want to move to another club in pursuit of an additional ring.
OILERS LEAKING AT WRONG TIME
Trade rumors have been swirling around the Edmonton Oilers for months and with the club in danger of falling completely out of the playoff race, there is growing speculation GM Steve Tambellini will soon make a move to bolster his lineup.
But in a recent interview with Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Tambellini claimed there were no trades in the works and that, for now, he’ll look toward his farm team for depth.
“I think trade possibilities might heat up around the middle of this month,” he told Matheson, adding that he’s not giving up on the club’s future, “but if I can help us now, I will.”
Regarding right winger Ales Hemsky, the target of discontent for Oilers fans as well as rumor mongers dreaming up potential trade destinations, Tambellini said the club needed him to regain his offensive touch.
The GM also said there’s been some contract discussions with Hemsky, though there is nothing to report. Matheson believes unless Hemsky heats up offensively, there’s a good chance he’ll be traded.
It will take a significant rally on the Oilers’ part to get themselves out of the hole in which they find themselves. Mired in 13th in the Western Conference, a full 10 points out of the final playoff spot, this is a make-or-break month and will determine the moves Tambellini makes in the coming weeks.
FOR THE CANADIENS, IT’S WAKE UP OR SHAKE UP
The Montreal Canadiens are another struggling Canadian team facing a critical juncture of the season, as they entered January having won only once in their previous eight games.
RDS.ca’s Renaud Lavoie suggested if the club fails to turn things around in January, management should conduct a “fire sale” near the trade deadline.
Among the potential trade candidates are pending unrestricted free agents, such as defensemen Hal Gill and Chris Campoli, left wingers Andrei Kostitsyn and Mathieu Darche, and gritty right winger Travis Moen.
Lavoie also speculated defenseman/right winger Yannick Weber, who has another season remaining on his contract at an affordable cap hit of $850,000, would also be a trade candidate.
Given the promising performances from rookies Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz, there appears little room on the Habs blueline for Weber, especially if Andrei Markov returns to the lineup later this season or next.
TAMPA SEEKING MORE THAN TOUGHNESS
The Tampa Bay Lightning recently received a physical mauling from the Philadelphia Flyers, resulting in Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer dropping the gloves with Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds, who promptly beat Brewer to the ice.
While Brewer suffered no lasting injury, the fact he had to take matters into his own hands raised the question if GM Steve Yzerman should add an enforcer.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, however, doesn’t believe Yzerman will change his preference for tough players to be able to bring other intangibles to the team besides just fighting. Erlendsson also pointed out the Lightning have Ryan Malone and Steve Downie, who are capable of throwing down if necessary.
Improving goaltending and blueline depth remains Yzerman’s top priority.
AVERY HEADING OVERSEAS?
The NHL career of Rangers left winger Sean Avery appears to finally be over.
The controversial Avery cleared waivers last weekend for the third time this season. He reported to New York’s AHL farm club in Hartford, but according to the New York Post, he’s expected to strike a deal with a Russian team for the remainder of the Kontinental League season.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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.