The likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall are safe for now as GM Peter Chiarelli takes more time to evaluate his roster.
After stumbling from the gate with four consecutive losses, the Edmonton Oilers reeled off two wins in a row over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. Those victories could quell some of the trade chatter churning in the midst of their earlier losing skid.
The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples cited TSN’s Craig Button’s belief that Oilers management should start moving out players instrumental in their struggles over the past half-dozen years. Button didn’t specify which players he had in mind, but Staples speculates he was referring to such notables as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz.
When trade rumors regarding Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara surfaced last week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman included the Oilers among possible destinations. He noted they could afford Chara’s $6.9-million cap hit and GM Peter Chiarelli’s previous links with the 38-year-old blueliner, though he wondered if the Bruins would make that deal.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun also weighed in on the Oilers’ speculation. While he considers their defense a concern, he doesn’t believe Chiarelli will make knee-jerk reactions to improve his lineup.
The notion of Chiarelli blowing up the roster or chasing an aging superstar like Chara makes for sexy trade rumors, but LeBrun’s take is likely the most accurate. This is Chiarelli’s first year on the job with the rebuilding Oilers. He’ll want to take time, perhaps the entire season, to fully evaluate his roster before addressing its needs.
If the Oilers GM does make major roster changes, it will happen near the trade deadline or in the off-season, when rivals are more willing to deal.
Speaking of the Chara trade rumors the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch offered up his thoughts. He notes sources denying the speculation, citing the blueliner’s annual salary-cap hit along with the Bruins’ lack of experienced defensive depth.
Garrioch believes a couple of teams probably contacted the Bruins when Chara’s name surfaced in the rumor mill. He speculates the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings or Columbus Blue Jackets could’ve been among them, pointing out their need for blueline help.
It’s unlikely, however, those clubs were interested in Chara, as they all lack sufficient salary-cap room at this stage in the season to comfortably absorb his cap hit. The Blackhawks only have around $492K available, the Kings just over $2 million (that includes the Mike Richards contract settlement and cap-recapture penalty) and the Blue Jackets a little over $2.5 million.
Furthermore, the Blackhawks are in the market for a third-pairing defenseman. They have no reason to pursue an expensive, top-four blueliner like Chara.
Friedman thinks winger Loui Eriksson, not Chara, is a more likely Bruins trade candidate. Eriksson, 30, is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. While he enjoyed a bounce-back performance last season with the Bruins, he could prove difficult to re-sign. He’s earning $4.5-million in salary this season.
SABRES GOALTENDING SITUATION STILL UNSETTLED
Despite losing starting goaltender Robin Lehner to an early-season ankle injury, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray reportedly isn’t rushing to find a short-term replacement via trade. He remains intent on allowing the netminders in his system a chance to play.
That hasn’t stopped speculation linking the Sabres to clubs carrying an extra goalie. StarTribune.com’s Michael Russo reports some Wild fans asked him if GM Chuck Fletcher could offer up little-used veteran Niklas Backstrom.
Russo doubts that’ll happen, citing Backstrom’s age (37), cap hit ($3.416 million) and no-movement clause. If the Sabres decide to shop for a goalie, he feels they’ll pursue younger, cheaper options.
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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