The Ottawa Senators offense suffered a serious blow last week when Jason Spezza was sidelined by back surgery. The club hopes he'll return in time for the playoffs, but his absence creates a significant void on their first line.
GM Bryan Murray said he doesn't intend to go shopping right away for a short-term replacement, in part because there are few decent options available. For now, the Senators have promoted Kyle Turris into the first line center role.
Should the Senators struggle, a couple of Ottawa pundits believe Florida Panthers star Stephen Weiss, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, could become a trade target.
Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun reported there's a belief around the league Weiss won't re-sign unless the Panthers make an offer too good to refuse. Garrioch and Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen suggested the 29-year-old center could be available by the April 3 trade deadline.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman also addressed Weiss' status during the Hotstove segment on Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada telecast. He said Panthers GM Dale Tallon dismissed the Weiss rumors as “ridiculous,” adding it’s Tallon's intent to re-sign him.
Friedman's colleague Glenn Healy, however, claimed Weiss was indeed on the market and there were clubs interested in him.
Weiss' status with the Panthers will be determined more by the Panthers’ position in the standings come the trade deadline than by his contract negotiations. If they're still in the playoff chase, they'll retain him, even if he's still unsigned by that point.
WHICH VETS WILL THE STARS MOVE?
Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News suggested the Dallas Stars could move some veteran talent if they're out of the playoff race by the deadline.
In a live chat with his readers, Heika listed Michael Ryder, Jaromir Jagr, Brenden Morrow, Stephane Robidas and Ray Whitney as potential candidates.
Ryder, Jagr and Morrow are potential UFAs this summer, while Robidas ($3.3 million) and Whitney ($4.5 million) have one year remaining on their contracts.
Morrow's name was bandied about in the summer’s rumor mill, so it's not surprising he made Heika's list. Jagr (who turns 41 on February 15) and the 40-year-old Whitney would draw attention, but their age hurts their value. Ryder (32) and Robidas (35) are younger and more valuable for clubs seeking playoff depth they may be able to retain beyond this season.
Morrow and Robidas also carry full no-trade clauses in their contracts, while Whitney has a no-movement clause for this season.
SHOPPING IN MANHATTAN
The New York Rangers entered last weekend worried about the lack of production beyond their “Money Line” of Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards.
Those concerns were amplified when captain Ryan Callahan suffered a shoulder injury, sidelining him for up to two weeks.
Pat Leonard of The New York Daily News reported the Rangers were making enquires about available free agent forwards.
The Rangers had signed UFA center Jason Arnott on Jan. 27, but the deal fell through when he failed the team medical. Other options include Brian Rolston, Andrew Brunette, and Andrei Kostitsyn.
The Rangers got some production from their secondary scoring on Saturday, as Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin netted their first goals in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. If this pair can make the scoresheet more frequently, it'll reduce the need to seek free agent help.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).