The Philadelphia Flyers are off to another slow start, so it’s the perfect time to resurrect the Jeff Carter trade rumors.
Sam Carchidi of Philly.com raised the possibility in a recent blog, pointing out the club needs a “high quality winger.” Nikolay Zherdev has thus far been disappointing in that role - and has been moved to the fourth line - leading Carchidi to suggest Flyers management will have to move Carter to address that need.
CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio, however, reported Carter’s agent, Rick Curran, claimed he was “making progress” on contract extension talks with GM Paul Holmgren, which Panaccio called “a good sign” given two weeks ago there hadn’t been any progress at all.
Carter, scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, has been an almost permanent fixture in the NHL rumor mill for the past three years, usually appearing whenever the Flyers are struggling in the standings.
Holmgren has repeatedly resisted the temptation to trade Carter and will likely do so again despite the winger’s restricted free agent status next summer.
It must be remembered the Flyers had a poor start last season, but rallied in the second half under coach Peter Laviolette and marched to the Stanley Cup final without having to make any major trades.
Of course, it’s always possible Carter will be shopped if contract talks reach an impasse, but that’s far from a certainty. The fact there’s recent progress in negotiations suggests both sides are serious about getting a new deal to keep him in Philadelphia.
DEVILS TALKING PARISE EXTENSION
The contract status of New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise, who, like Carter, will be an RFA this summer, also became a point of interest this week.
ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside wondered if the Devils’ poor start and lack of cap space would push Parise to seek greener pastures, a point echoed by NJ.com’s Rich Chere, who reported Devils management have not even opened preliminary contract talks with the young star and wondered if the possibility of missing the playoffs would be a factor in contract talks.
However, Parise dismissed that possibility, adding he’s not concerned about the lack of negotiations.
Cap space and Parise’s performance will be the factors in determining what type of contract he’ll get, but it’ll be surprising if GM Lou Lamoriello hasn’t re-signed him by July 1. The last thing Lamoriello wants is a rival team setting the market value for Parise by swooping in with an expensive offer sheet.
TORONTO TALKING TRADE?
The recent news of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke stirring the trade pot had one fan asking James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail about the possibility of the Leafs shipping defenseman Tomas Kaberle to Dallas for Stars center Brad Richards.
While Mirtle considered it plausible - based upon the free agent status of both players next summer, coupled with the Leafs’ need for a top center and their available cap space - he nevertheless dismissed the possibility of the Stars moving Richards, particularly if they continue to play as well as they have so far.
It must not be forgotten both players also carry no-trade clauses and Burke has previously stated he wouldn’t ask Kaberle to waive his.
It’s been said many times in this column, but it’s worth mentioning again: The Dallas Stars will not trade Brad Richards before the New Year and if they’re still playing well by the Feb. 28 trade deadline they still won’t move him regardless of the status of his contract talks with the team.
BACKES LEAVING THE BLUES?
Another potential unrestricted free agent whose name popped up in the rumor mill this week was David Backes of the St. Louis Blues.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported contract talks between the two sides are currently on hold and Blues GM Doug Armstrong declined to comment on the direction talks could take in the coming months.
It’s believed Backes, who’s earning $2.5 million this season, will see his pay jump to $4 million on the open market. The shelving of contract talks led to an online rumor claiming Backes was seeking $5 million per season, which would force the Blues to trade him perhaps as early as November.
That doesn’t appear likely. Like Richards’ situation with Dallas, it’s far too early to suggest the Blues will trade Backes if contract talks remain stalled, especially if the club stays in the playoff chase throughout the season.
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun believes Armstrong and Backes’ agent should be able to get a deal worked out before next summer.
YANDLE STAYING IN PHOENIX
Ignore those rumors coming out of Boston claiming the Phoenix Coyotes will ship defenseman Keith Yandle to the Bruins.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney told the Sporting News the Yandle rumors were “pure, utter fantasy,” calling the young defenseman a key part of the club’s future.
Maloney also said he’d spoken with Yandle’s agent in the off-season about a possible contract extension, but those talks are on hold for now until the Coyotes ownership situation has been stabilized.
A more stable environment could come by Nov. 30 when investor Matthew Hulsizer’s bid to purchase the club is likely to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.