UFA Tracker

Rumor Roundup: As Hurricanes, Senators slide, trade talks heat up

The Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators are not where they expected to be this season, and a continued slide could see both teams become sellers before the trade deadline. Carolina’s Andrej Sekera has been the center of a number of trade talks, while Ottawa’s Craig Anderson remains an interesting option for team’s looking for goaltending.

The Carolina Hurricanes are on a hot streak of late, winning six of the last 10 games entering the All-Star break. Despite this improvement, however, the Hurricanes remain mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, sitting 19 points out of playoff contention.

It’s assumed Hurricanes GM Ron Francis will be a seller by the March 2 trade deadline. Defenseman Andrej Sekera, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, could attract the most interest. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson thinks Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who acquired Sekera during his tenure as Hurricanes GM, might come calling now that Olli Maatta is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Another trade option could be right wing Jiri Tlusty, who’s also slated for UFA status in July. Though an inconsistent scorer, the 26-year-old Tlusty has 11 goals this season and is on pace for 21.

The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt reports Capitals coach Barry Trotz believes his club is a piece or two away from being a playoff winner, one of which is an experienced right winger. The Florida Panthers are in need of a scoring boost to keep their flagging playoff hopes alive. Both could express interest in Tlusty.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports there’s no indication long-time Hurricanes stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward will waive their respective no-trade clauses. That hasn’t put to rest the trade rumors dogging Staal this season. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun claims the Hurricanes captain hasn’t discussed his future yet with Francis, leaving LeBrun to wonder if Staal might reconsider waiving his clause should the Hurricanes GM ask him to do so.

Staal insists he’s happy in Carolina and wants to help the Hurricanes rebuild. The question, however, is if he even has a long-term role in their plans. He has one year left on his contract at a cap hit of $8.25 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $9.5 million.

Only 30, Staal’s numbers in recent years are nowhere close to those which justify that salary. This season, he’s on pace for 52 points, the lowest over a full NHL season since his rookie campaign in 2003-04.

Determining if Staal wants to re-sign beyond 2015-16 and for how much will be significant factors in his future with the Hurricanes. Francis probably won’t address that with his captain leading up to the March 2 trade deadline, but the two sides will certainly talk contract after July 1.

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Approaching the NHL All-Star break, the Ottawa Senators find themselves eleven points out of the final playoff wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. GM Bryan Murray must do something to get his club on track soon or risk missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

The Senators’ struggles prompted speculation Murray might consider dealing starting goaltender Craig Anderson by the trade deadline if the club became a seller by then. Anderson recently told The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren he wasn’t concerned about that, noting his contract (which runs through 2016-17) gives him security to focus on his job.

Murray subsequently dismissed the Anderson rumors, telling Warren that backup Robin Lehner needs more games under his belt before he can step into the starting goalie role. Though Murray’s still in the hunt for a top-six winger, he won’t use Anderson as a trade chip.

The Senators GM admitted he’s shopping left wing Colin Greening, who’s in the first year of his three-year, $7.95-million contract. Greening, 28, has been a disappointment this season and a frequent healthy scratch, seeing action in just 20 games. Warren is skeptical Murray can find a trade partner for Greening, anticipating he’ll be demoted soon to Binghamton.

Another possible trade chip is defenseman Marc Methot, who’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. It’s believed Murray and Methot’s agent will meet one more time in hopes of working out a new contract. Failing that, Methot could hit the trade block.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.).

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