UFA Tracker

Rumor Roundup: Trade deadline stretch drive

From P-A Parenteau to Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and more, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on a week and a half away from the NHL trade deadline.

With the NHL’s Olympic roster freeze now lifted, teams have less than 10 days to make moves before the March 5 trade deadline. Given that narrow window of opportunity, trade speculation should significantly ramp up in the coming days.

Much of the focus will be on pending unrestricted free agents from non-playoff clubs. Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson of the Buffalo Sabres, Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames, Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers and Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders fall into that category.

Not every player mentioned in the rumor mill is eligible for UFA status this summer, though. Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner and St. Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart have contracts that run beyond this season. The trade speculation that followed those players up into the Olympic break should continue right up to deadline day.

But not every trade candidate will be moved by the deadline, either.

Colorado Avalanche winger P-A Parenteau was linked a month ago to the Montreal Canadiens. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reported season-ending hip surgery for Avs winger Alex Tanguay will “almost certainly” take Parenteau off the trade block.

Parenteau’s teammate Ryan O’Reilly was also the subject of media trade chatter last month. He’s a restricted free agent this summer. Last February, the Avalanche matched a two-year offer sheet from the Calgary Flames, which also prevented them from trading him for one year.

O’Reilly’s trade freeze ends on Feb. 28, which prompted some pundits to ponder his future in Colorado. Dater recently took to Twitter citing sources saying the 23-year-old winger won’t be dealt. Both sides mutually agreed to postpone contract talks until then.

Avalanche center Paul Statsny is eligible for UFA status at season’s end, but trade rumors about him died out weeks ago. Considering the Avalanche are currently riding high in the Western Conference standings they’re willing to retain Statsny for the playoffs and try to re-sign him before July.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs struggles through late-December into early-January sparked considerable trade banter about center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner. Once the Leafs started winning again those rumors melted away. Unless GM Dave Nonis gets a mind-blowing offer for Kadri and Gardiner they won’t be dealt.

When the Winnipeg Jets replaced Claude Noel as coach with Paul Maurice it was believed their next move would be a shakeup of their core players, possibly involving Dustin Byfuglien or Evander Kane.

Since the coaching change, however, the Jets are among the NHL’s hottest teams, rising to within two points of a playoff berth in the Western Conference. The only player movement of note was Maurice shifting Byfuglien from defense to the wing. It’s doubtful they’ll peddle their stars now.

New York Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi were frequently mentioned in trade talk leading up to the Olympic break. They’re both eligible for UFA status and it’s still believed one or both could be dealt by the March deadline.

Earlier this month New York Post columnist Larry Brooks speculated Rangers GM Glen Sather would view Callahan as a version of a playoff rental player without having to part with any assets to get him. The same logic could also apply to Girardi.

Considering the Rangers overcame a slow start this season to rise into playoff contention, Sather might not be willing to risk upsetting team chemistry at a crucial period in the schedule. Mats Zuccarello’s hand injury could also ensure Callahan remains in New York for the rest of the season.

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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