UFA Tracker

Rumor Roundup: Sam Gagner, Ryan Miller trade buzz

Sam Gagner leads the long list of player the Edmonton Oilers could deal by the NHL trade deadline…St. Louis appears to be a match for Ryan Miller, but should it get him now or wait?…And are the Bruins interested in the Islanders Andrew MacDonald?

With the Edmonton Oilers facing the prospect of a grim slog toward the end of another disappointing season, speculation is growing over which players will be moved by the March 5 trade deadline.

TSN’s Darren Dreger added his voice to the chorus of those anticipating Sam Gagner will be traded, claiming “there’s no question” the Oilers will consider dealing the 24-year-old center. Dreger anticipated a possible return of a top-six forward, top-four defenseman or a starting goaltender.

Gagner’s no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until 2014-15, but GM Craig MacTavish reportedly promised not to trade him this season. To allow MacTavish out of his promise, Gagner could have his choice of destinations. Finding one that brings a return that addresses one of the Oilers pressing needs will prove difficult.

MacTavish could sweeten the deal by adding the Oilers’ first round pick in this year’s draft. Earlier this season he indicated a willingness to shop it, but recently told the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones the possibility it could become a lottery pick changed his mind. MacTavish is still willing to listen to offers, but indicated his club will be scouting as though they’ll keep that pick.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, responding to a reader’s question, believes the Oilers would entertain offers for goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Devan Dubnyk. Others who could be shopped include forwards Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones, along with blueliners Nick Schultz and Corey Potter.

Of those players, Hemsky and Schultz would net the best returns, though it would likely be draft picks and/or prospects. MacTavish could try to get the jump on the trade market by dealing some of these players before the Olympic roster freeze period begins on Feb. 9.

Throughout this season several NHL observers have persisted in linking Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues.

Miller’s status as an impending unrestricted free agent with a rebuilding team, combined with the fact Blues goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott are also UFAs this summer, is the basis for the conjecture. Some believe the Blues should acquire Miller before the trade deadline to boost their chances for a Stanley Cup run.

Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is not among those calling for the Blues to acquire Miller. He cited several factors working against such a move, among them the Sabres’ rumored asking price of three top prospects and a first round pick.

READ ALSO:  Rumor Roundup: Edmonton Oilers search for a starting goalie

Gordon also noted the Blues aren’t experiencing a “goaltending emergency,” as Elliott has recently played well filling in for the sidelined Halak. There’s also the risk Miller could still test the free agent market even if he’s acquired by a contender.

The Blues are Stanley Cup challengers, but this season isn’t their only opportunity to win a championship. Most of their best players range from their late-20s to their early-30s, ensuring their window of opportunity remains open for several years.

If they come up short this season with their current goalie tandem, they can always bid for Miller’s services via free agency rather than give up assets to acquire him in a trade.

New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald should garner significant interest near the March trade deadline.

MacDonald, 27, is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. He’s the Isles top defenseman at a bargain cap hit of $550,000, meaning he’ll seek a significant raise. Newsday’s Arthur Staple suggested it will cost $5 million per season to re-sign MacDonald, speculating he could be dealt if still unsigned by the trade deadline.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa noted MacDonald was seventh overall in ice time this season (25:58) and leads the league in blocked shots. Shinzawa and Staple believe he’d make a good second-pairing defenseman for any playoff team.

If the Bruins fail to find a suitable replacement for the sidelined Dennis Seidenberg, MacDonald could be a suitable short-term option. He’d certainly be more affordable than New York Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi, who’s also been linked to the Bruins in recent trade chatter.

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.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.