After a hot start to this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have cooled noticeably, dropping seven of their last 10 games and sliding to 13th in the Eastern Conference.
That prompted Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones to suggest the Lightning shop captain Vincent Lecavalier, calling him their only legitimate trade candidate.
Despite Lecavalier’s no-movement clause and the seven years (at a cap hit of $7.7 million) remaining on his contract, Jones believes this season could be a good time to peddle the long-time Lightning star.
Noting the rumors which for years linked Lecavalier to the Montreal Canadiens, Jones feels this year they might make sense, given the Canadiens’ improvement and potential willingness to do anything to win their first Stanley Cup in 20 years.
Trading the 32-year-old Lecavalier would be a shocking move by the Lightning, but there’s good reasons why it won’t happen.
Though still a quality center, age and injuries have rendered Lecavalier incapable of playing to the level required of his hefty contract.
Assuming Lecavalier waived his movement clause, the decline of next season’s salary cap to $64.3 million makes moving his expensive salary almost impossible.
As for shipping Lecavalier to Montreal, that ship sailed four years ago. The Canadiens have new ownership and management whose focus is on building around their own talent (Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty), not bringing home an aging, expensive star.
LEAFS TO MAKE PLAY FOR PERRY?
If the Anaheim Ducks decide to shop pending free agent winger Corey Perry before the NHL trade deadline, Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox believes the Maple Leafs must make a pitch for him.
Though Perry wouldn’t be the first-line center the Leafs desperately need, Cox believes the competitiveness of the former Hart Trophy winner would make him a worthwhile addition.
Cox also noted Leafs coach Randy Carlyle’s ties to Perry during his days coaching the Ducks, plus the fact former Leafs GM Brian Burke now works as a Ducks scout. He wondered if Burke might recommend a swap of Perry for Phil Kessel, provided the Leafs could get Perry under contract beforehand.
According to the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, there are persistent rumors the Leafs could shop Kessel before the trade deadline.
A Perry-for-Kessel trade would be a blockbuster, but Leafs fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.
The Ducks don’t want to risk losing Perry to free agency this summer, but they’re also currently among the best teams in the league. Moving him by the deadline could jeopardize team chemistry and a chance to win the Stanley Cup this year.
As for Kessel, his 12 points in 15 games in February was a big reason the Leafs remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Unlike Perry, he has another season remaining on his contract, so the Leafs aren’t under pressure to move him now.
Speaking of the Maple Leafs, Sportsnet.ca recently cited a report from TrueHockey.com’s Andy Strickland claiming Mike Komisarek submitted a list of 12 teams he’d accept being dealt to.
Komisarek, however, dismissed the report. “It must be a slow news day,” he told the Toronto Star, which also cited rumors claiming the St. Louis Blue and Dallas Stars were interested in him.
The 31-year-old blueliner has been a healthy scratch since Feb. 2. He has one year at a $4.5-million cap hit remaining on his contract, as well as a limited no-movement clause.
Combine that with Komisarek’s declining performance and the Leafs will be hard-pressed to find any takers in the trade market.
FLAMES ARE A HOT MESS
In the aftermath of the Calgary Flames’ failed attempt last week to sign Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet, there’s speculation over what moves they could have in store by the trade deadline.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported Saturday “many GMs” believe the Pittsburgh Penguins will try to acquire Flames captain Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline.
The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman wondered if the Flames could get an offer for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester good enough to ask him to waive his no-trade clause.
Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun noted the Flames willingness to part with their first and third round picks in this year’s draft as compensation for O’Reilly could prompt rival clubs to make offers for those picks.
Though dogged by trade speculation the past two seasons, the Flames front office has stubbornly refused to rebuild and shop its aging, expensive stars for younger, affordable players. It remains to be seen if it will accept the inevitable before this year’s trade deadline.
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.).