The large number of NHL teams still in contention for playoff berths could have an adverse effect upon this season’s trade deadline.
The Ottawa Sun reported only seven teams – Toronto, Atlanta, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and the Islanders in the East and St. Louis and Colorado in the West – could be considered sellers at the present time, which would leave a limited market for those shopping for depth down the stretch and the playoffs.
That explains the lack of significant trades at this point, although that’s likely to change as the deadline approaches as a couple of more teams fall out of the playoff chase. It could also drive up the asking price of those players being shopped by the sellers.
Don’t expect to see many, if any, players on multi-year contracts to be shopped. Since the NHL returned from the lockout, only two players of note under those contracts – Brad Richards and Joe Corvo – were dealt during the trade deadline period.
And don’t expect the top clubs in each conference to make any major acquisitions at the deadline. Boston, San Jose, Detroit, New Jersey, Washington and Calgary will look at tweaking their rosters, but are unlikely to make any significant changes.
• The Buffalo Sabres reportedly are interested in re-signing oft-injured center Tim Connolly, but only if he’ll accept less than the $3.33 million per season he made on his present contract. It’s been suggested the Sabres might shop Connolly if they can’t re-sign him by the trade deadline.
That’s possible, but also unlikely. Connolly’s been on a point-per-game pace since returning from a rib injury more than a month ago and with leading scorer Thomas Vanek out for at least a month with a broken jaw the Sabres are more likely to retain Connolly.
Even if Connolly were to hit the trade block, his injury history might scare away most suitors.
• The financial difficulties of the Phoenix Coyotes raised suggestions last month they might engage in a cost-cutting fire sale at the trade deadline.
That speculation died down when the Coyotes went into the All-Star break holding down the fifth overall playoff berth in the Western Conference. Since then, however, the Coyotes have won only two of their last 10 games and have fallen to 13th overall, five points out of the final playoff spot in the West.
That slide has given fresh life to the “fire sale” rumors, with the most recent claiming the struggling Montreal Canadiens are interested in Coyotes center Olli Jokinen and defenseman Derek Morris.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney admits receiving inquiries about Jokinen, but insists he’s not shopping him. Few in the media are buying that, however.
If the Coyotes fall further out of the playoff race by the end of February, Maloney could consider moving some veteran talent, particularly those eligible for unrestricted free agency such as Morris, Steve Reinprecht and Ken Klee.
And, yes, Maloney might even consider moving Jokinen, who has one more season at $5.25 million remaining on his contract, but only if he can get a good return.
Don’t expect Ed Jovanovski to waive his “no-trade” clause. His family is comfortably settled in the Phoenix area and he’s given no inclination he wants to leave. Besides, the remaining two years and $12 million on his contract isn’t likely to garner much interest given concerns the salary cap could stagnate next season and decline sharply the following year.
• The Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors have died down in recent weeks, so naturally the rumor mongers have set their sights upon his Tampa Bay Lightning teammate, Martin St-Louis.
This past week, reports suggested the Pittsburgh Penguins, desperately seeking a high-quality winger for Sidney Crosby, were interested in St-Louis.
If the Penguins were interested in St-Louis, the Lightning would have to ask him to waive his no-trade clause, something he’s not believed keen to do.
The Penguins recently changing head coaches suggests that’s the only significant move they can afford to make.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.