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Rumor Roundup: Cammalleri to Kings? Kadri to Flames?

There won’t be many “untouchable” players when the Flames start their sell-off and a possible home for Mike Cammalleri is back in Los Angeles…and could the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri or Jake Gardiner end up in Calgary?

As the rebuilding Calgary Flames struggle through the remainder of this season, president of hockey operations Brian Burke admits chasing potential trade partners and searching for a new GM is taking up much of his time.

Burke told the Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank he hasn’t thought about which current Flames would be considered “untouchables,” but given his club’s position in the standings he believes it’ll be a short list.

The Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis speculates promising rookie center Sean Monahan, captain Mark Giordano and “a handful of young prospects” will likely be on that list. Center Matt Stajan, recently re-signed to a four-year, $12.5-million contract, will also be on it.

It’s widely assumed pending unrestricted free agents Mike Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and Chris Butler will be dealt before the March 5 trade deadline. Francis speculates defenseman Dennis Wideman ($5.3 million per season) and winger David Jones ($4 million per) could also hit the trade block.

Cammalleri’s offensive skills should attract the most interest, provided he makes a full recovery from a recent concussion. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings have their eye on the 31-year-old winger. TSN’s Darren Dreger also believes Cammalleri is on the Kings’ wish list of playoff rentals.

If the Kings acquire Cammalleri, he’d be returning to the club where he began his NHL career. He was dealt to Calgary at the 2008 NHL draft for his first tour with the Flames. That move was believed prompted by his contentious contract negotiations with Kings management the previous year, requiring arbitration to resolve. One wonders how much impact that could have upon the Kings’ rumored interest in him.

Cammalleri played under Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter when the latter was Flames’ GM, which could work in the Cammalleri’s favor. The Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators could also pursue him as a playoff rental player.

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Garrioch also suggests Burke could have interest in Nazem Kadri or Jake Gardiner if the Leafs decide to move either player. During his tenure as Leafs GM, Burke drafted Kadri and acquired Gardiner from the Anaheim Ducks. It’ll take more than rental players to pry them out of Toronto, however. The asking price for either one is a blue-chip player of comparable age.

Burke also hints he could wait until the 10-day period between the end of the Olympic break and the March trade deadline to make his moves. He believes that compressed period could result in better returns from desperate teams.

One thing Burke won’t do is trade his picks in the top three rounds of this year’s draft, telling Cruickshank: “They are not in play. We have to re-stock the cupboard.”

He also said he’s not interested in short-term returns. Considering the Flames are among the worst clubs in the league, their picks are bound to be high. Should they win the draft lottery, their first-rounder becomes first overall. Little wonder Burke is unwilling to part with them.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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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