Travis Hamonic and Trevor Daley are among a large group of defensemen who could be on the move as teams start to figure out their needs.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports GM Bryan Murray is working the phones in search of help for his defense corps. Garrioch says the struggles of Patrick Wiercioch and Jared Cowen have contributed to the Senators blueline issues this season.
The Senators aren’t the only club in the market for defensive help. Earlier this week, Garrioch included the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins among those shopping for defensemen.
The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc reports the Blackhawks are still searching for a reliable No. 4 blueliner. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been shopping around since early-October. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman cites an NHL coach wondering if the Tampa Bay Lightning could use another defenseman with a right-handed shot.
Recent reports suggest several defensemen could be available. The most notable is Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders, who’s requested a trade to a Western Canadian team.
Friedman notes the Blackhawks’ Trevor Daley could be available. Since coming to Chicago in last summer’s deal that sent winger Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars, the 32-year-old Daley is struggling to adjust to his new club.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis observes the Oilers will have a logjam on defense when Justin Schultz returns from his back injury. Possible trade candidates include Mark Fayne, Eric Gryba, Brandon Davidson and Nikita Nikitin, who’s currently toiling in the minors.
Calgary Flames blueliners Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell are fixtures in this season’s rumor mill, while the Lightning are said to be seeking suitors for Matt Carle. Philadelphia Flyers veteran Luke Schenn has been on the market for weeks.
NJ.com’s Rich Chere recently speculated over Eric Gelinas’s future with the New Jersey Devils. Trade rumors are growing over Montreal Canadiens press-box resident Jarred Tinordi.
With all these defensemen supposedly available and so many teams reportedly seeking blueline help, one would think there would be movement by now. However, several factors are hindering activity in this season’s trade market.
First, there’s the consensus among NHL pundits that the trade market doesn’t really sputter back to life until around the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which is next week. That’s based on the assumption most general managers take the opening two months of the season to fully assess their roster needs before jumping into the trade pool.
Another is the salary cap. With a high number of teams carrying limited salary-cap room, few have sufficient wiggle room to take on additional salary. It forces them to wait for the trade market to improve, in hopes of finding more affordable options or dollar-for-dollar deals.
Daley, for example, has a year left on his contract at a cap hit of $3.3 million. Some, like Carle, are carrying cap hits worth over $5 million annually. Those salaries are difficult to move this early in the season.
No-trade and no-movement clauses are another stumbling block. Some players, like Wideman, carry a full no-movement clause, giving them control over potential destinations or even if a trade takes place at all.
Return is another issue. There’s undoubtedly interest in Hamonic among the four Western Canadian teams, but the Islanders seek a comparable blueliner in return. Considering Hamonic’s trade request was made in the offseason, the fact he’s still with the Islanders says all we need to know about the difficulty in finding the right deal.
Finally, there’s the fact that most of those available aren’t exactly having stellar performances this season. Include the other factors, and it’s not surprising that teams seeking defensemen aren’t pursuing those who are reportedly available.
Between now and the holiday trade freeze in mid-December, perhaps one or two clubs will get desperate enough to take a chance on the slim pickings currently on the market. Most will continue playing the waiting game in hopes better options emerge in the coming weeks.
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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