The Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to move James Wisniewski, but his deal could get in the way. Meanwhile, the Jordan Staal trade talk has been halted by the Hurricanes, as have rumors about several other notable stars.
The Columbus Blue Jackets made defenseman James Wisniewski a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers. At the time it was reportedly a coach’s decision. Of course, whenever a notable healthy player becomes a late scratch at this time of year, it’s assumed he’s about to be traded.
NBC Sports’ James O’Brien thought it was an odd move, citing the 31-year-old Wisniewski’s solid puck-possession stats. He pointed out the veteran blueliner has two years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. O’Brien also cited a tweet from TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie speculating Wisniewski could be traded.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen was quick to deny the rumors, telling The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline there was no pending trade involving the defenseman. Coach Todd Richards said Wisniewski wasn’t injured but declined to elaborate on the decision to scratch him.
Portzline subsequently cited two different sources claiming the Jackets are trying to move the rearguard before the March 2 trade deadline. He believes Wisniewski could be attractive to clubs seeking an offensive boost. While his cap hit is a stumbling block, his actual salary is $5 million for 2015-16 and $3 million for 2016-17.
The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly shopping for a defenseman. Wisniewski played half a season with the Habs during the 2010-11 campaign before signing with the Blue Jackets, so perhaps they could bring him back. Wisniewski’s also a right-handed shot, which is a prized commodity in this year’s trade market. The Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars are three clubs in need of a right-shooting blueliner.
STAAL NOT THE ONLY NO-GO AT DEADLINE DAY
It didn’t take long for the Carolina Hurricanes to respond to reports claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins were interested in reacquiring Jordan Staal. TSN’s Aaron Ward took to Twitter Monday citing a team source said Staal was told that speculation was unfounded. Later in the day, Hurricanes GM Ron Francis told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer he was not moving the 26-year-old center.
Staal was dealt from the Penguins to the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2012 NHL Draft, quickly signing a 10-year, $60-million contract with a full no-movement clause. Then-Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is now the Penguins’ general manager, so it’s unsurprising there’s talk he made inquiries into Staal’s availability.
Though the initial reports speculated reacquiring Staal probably wouldn’t happen until the summer, his salary and the Penguins’ limited cap space makes such a move very difficult. While the Hurricanes are expected to rebuild following this season, there’s no indication Jordan, or his brother Eric, could be traded.
Jordan Staal isn’t the only notable player who won’t be moving at the trade deadline.
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara‘s name was recently bandied about as a possible trade candidate if management was inclined to commence a rebuild. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Bruins have no intention of asking the 37-year-old defenseman to waive his no-trade clause and they’re not shopping him.
Friedman also casts doubt on the possibility of the Washington Capitals trading defenseman Mike Green for draft picks or a rental player. He claims it could take a substantial offer to convince management to move him, which they’re unlikely to get. While the Capitals risk losing the 29-year-old Green to free agency this summer, they appear content to keep him for the playoffs.
With the struggling San Jose Sharks in danger of falling out of the Western Conference playoff race, there were murmurs regarding the trade status of long-time Sharks Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Sharks aren’t shopping either player and unless the pair ask for a trade, they won’t be moved.
The New York Rangers are negotiating with pending free-agent winger Mats Zuccarello, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. Rangers GM Glen Sather traded Ryan Callahan at last year’s trade deadline when unable to re-sign him, prompting speculation Zuccarello could suffer the same fate.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the Blueshirts won’t move the invaluable Norwegian winger. If they can’t reach a deal on a new contract by the deadline, they’ll renew talks following the playoffs. Brooks claims both sides are keen to work out an agreement. The Rangers are reportedly offering a four-year deal worth between $4-$4.25 million annually, while the Zuccarello’s camp seeks over $5 million per season on a longer term.
When the Edmonton Oilers acquired center Derek Roy earlier this season it was assumed he could end up on the move again by the trade deadline. According to Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said he’d like to keep the 31-year-old Roy (a pending free agent) after this season.
Since joining the Oilers in late-December, Roy has established a strong chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov, who was struggling prior to his new linemate’s arrival. Perhaps with a full season together, the duo could provide some much-needed second line scoring depth for the Oilers.
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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