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Last-minute roster shuffle

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As the start of the 2010-11 campaign approaches, the Edmonton Oilers are still trying to find a trade partner for defenseman Sheldon Souray.

The New York Rangers reportedly still have an interest, but barring what the New York Post called an “unlikely immediate claim” off re-entry waivers (where they’d pick up only half his $5.4 million cap hit) the Rangers will look toward waivers for a defenseman with a left-handed shot.

Of larger concern for the Rangers is the possibility of losing top-six forward Vaclav Prospal to a potentially season-ending knee surgery. The Post suggested Brandon Dubinsky is likely to be Prospal’s replacement, but if Dubinsky struggles in the role the Rangers will be in the market for a top-six player later in the season.

RIVAL TRADING?

A recent rumor that suggested the Oilers were working to swap Souray and center Andrew Cogliano to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Cory Sarich and left winger Curtis Glencross was dismissed by David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, who pointed out the move would add salary to a Flames club already sitting more than $2.5 million above the salary cap.

The combined cap hit for Sarich and Glencross is $4.8 million, considerably less than Souray’s $5.4 million. Toss in Cogliano’s $1 million for this season and this trade rumor simply makes no cap sense for the Flames.

EDMONTON-COLUMBUS RUMOR QUASHED?

What of last month’s rumored swap between Edmonton and the Blue Jackets, which would’ve sent Souray to Columbus for defenseman Mike Commodore?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the two teams are not actively discussing a deal and a source suggested the possibility of a trade was “remote.”

CAP CRUNCH TIME

The New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames need to move salary to get below the NHL’s $59.4 million cap before the season opens Thursday, but it doesn’t appear as though they’ll need to make trades to do so.

Mark Everson of the New York Post suggested Tuesday the Devils will start the season with a 20-man roster – instead of a 23-man roster – which will put them just below the cap. However, they won’t be left with much wiggle room to call up players from the minors should someone get injured.

Defenseman Bryce Salvador is expected to begin the season on long-term injury reserve, which will be a contributing factor to making the Devils cap compliant, albeit just barely.

Erroneous reports had Dainius Zubrus being placed on waivers Tuesday, but just because he wasn’t put on the wire now doesn’t mean it won’t happen later in the season; a trade involving his $3.4 million cap hit doesn’t appear likely.

Everson noted other Devils involved in recent trade rumors (Brian Rolston, Jamie Langenbrunner and Colin White) had not been asked by management to waive their no-trade clauses.

The Canucks, meanwhile, traded defenseman Shane O’Brien to Nashville in exchange for defenseman Ryan Parent, whom they’ve placed on waivers and are expected to demote before the season opens Thursday.

Blueliner Kevin Bieksa, who’s been a fixture in the rumor mill since late June, told the Vancouver Sun he had an idea what the team would do, but wasn’t concerned, which suggests he’s not going to be moved in a cost-cutting deal.

As for the Flames, they have several players currently sidelined with injuries, one of whom – center Daymond Langkow – is likely to begin the season on long-term injury reserve, which would allow the club to remain above the cap for as long as he’s out. However, once he returns they’ll have to dump salary.

LEAFS LIKELY TO STAY PUT

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked to the Devils in Internet trade rumors, but it appears unlikely GM Brian Burke will make any blockbuster deals that would see the Leafs land a seasoned veteran such as Langenbrunner or a rising young star such as Travis Zajac.

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun pointed out the Leafs only needed to demote a low-salary player like Matt Lashoff to get below the salary cap (they were over by approximately $275,000), though they might have to demote someone like Jeff Finger later on if other moves need to be made during the 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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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