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Keeping talk at Bay

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Vincent Lecavalier trade rumor saga reached a crescendo last week, forcing Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton to call a press conference Thursday to deny the star center was being shopped.

Lawton’s comments somewhat cooled the speculation, but more than a few pundits insist the reason a deal hasn’t happened yet is Tampa Bay hasn’t received the right offer.

The Montreal Canadiens continue to figure prominently in the Lecavalier rumor chatter, but supposedly the hang-up is the Lightning want either Andrei Markov or Mike Komisarek as part of the package. As much as Montreal fans would love to see Lecavalier in a Canadiens uniform GM Bob Gainey isn’t likely to part with either defenseman.

It remains to be seen if Lecavalier does get moved, but it’s going to take a significant offer to get it done. While he’s a valuable commodity every team covets, few can comfortably afford to take on his expensive and lengthy, 11-year, $85-million contract, which takes effect next season and includes a no-movement clause.

The reality is most teams are either unable or unwilling to pony up the kind of offer it would take to land him.

That could be the reason some rumormongers appear to have shifted gears and are now suggesting everyone on the Lightning roster could be available.

The rationale for this is the Lightning’s ownership is supposedly struggling financially, something Lawton also denied at his press conference.

Unless the team does something to suitably address these rumors and concerns once and for all, the speculation will not only continue be an unnecessary distraction for the players, but could potentially damage fan support.

• One club known for certain to be struggling financially is the Phoenix Coyotes. Recent media reports claim the club could be swimming in red ink as deep as $40 million by season’s end.

The Ottawa Sun reported Sunday league sources are claiming the Phoenix Coyotes could engage in a roster “fire sale” prior to the trade deadline where several notable veterans, including Ed Jovanovski, Olli Jokinen and Derek Morris, could be moved.

That, however, could be wishful thinking.

Moving Jovanovski would be difficult considering he has a contract with two more years remaining at $6.5 million per season, a “no-trade” clause and no desire to leave Phoenix.

Despite their financial troubles, the Coyotes are having their best season in years, sitting in the midst of the Western Conference playoff race. Their on-ice improvement has also resulted in a stronger gate, as their attendance is up considerably this season.

A team facing financial difficulties doesn’t automatically dump salary during a season. The Ottawa Senators, for example, filed for bankruptcy midway through the 2002-03 season and not only kept their roster intact, but also won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best team.

Despite the Coyotes’ money problems, don’t expect them to start dumping salary if they’re still in the playoff race by March 4th.

• Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere is slated to return to the roster this week after being sidelined for several weeks with a groin injury, forcing GM Paul Holmgren to once again do some roster juggling to stay under the salary cap.

Holmgren needs to free up more than $3 million in cap space and could demote a few of his lesser lights or perhaps trade one or two roster players. Forwards Joffrey Lupul, Mike Knuble, and Scottie Upshall and defensemen Randy Jones and Andrew Alberts have been rumored as potential trade bait.

Holmgren’s done a good job of working with limited cap space so far this season, but Briere’s return could prove to be his biggest test yet.

• The Edmonton Oilers acquired goaltender Dany Sabourin from the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday as part of the return for goaltender Mathieu Garon, but don’t expect Sabourin to suit up for the Oilers this season.

GM Steve Tambellini said he intended on either demoting or trading Sabourin perhaps as early as this week. Having moved Garon to clear the logjam in the Oilers net, there simply isn’t room for Sabourin.

One club that might be interested in his services is the New York Islanders, who lost Wade Dubielewicz via waivers to Columbus and desperately need experienced goaltending depth.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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