Chicago and Boston need to shed salary and both are flush on defense. But who will get dealt and to where? A likely trade partner is the Islanders, but the Stars, Red Wings, Sabres, Oilers and Panthers are blueline hunting as well.
With the start of NHL training camps a little more than two weeks away, the Blackhawks have yet to reach a decision on how to address their salary-cap issues. Chicago remains above the $69 million cap by more than $2.2 million and must shed salary before the season opens in October.
The situation provided fodder for the rumor mill this summer. It’s assumed GM Stan Bowman would move a defenseman, with Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) as potential trade candidates.
The Boston Bruins must also become cap compliant by the start of the season. They’re currently above the ceiling by more than $800,000. The Bruins will get cap relief by placing concussed center Marc Savard ($4.03 million) on long-term injured reserve, but it won’t leave much to re-sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith and leave room for possible moves later in the season.
The New York Islanders could be a trade partner for both clubs. Their most experienced defenseman is 38-year-old Lubomir Visnovsky, while the rest of the Islanders blueline is stocked with young, largely inexperienced defensemen. Travis Hamonic and Brian Strait each have four years of NHL experience, while Calvin De Haan and Thomas Hickey each have two. They could be joined this season by rookie Griffin Reinhart.
ESPN’s Katie Strang, responding to a reader’s question regarding the Islanders’ need for an experienced top-four defenseman, suggests GM Garth Snow could use forwards Mikhail Grabovski or Nikolai Kulemin as trade bait. The Islanders signed both players this summer, but Strang notes they lack no-trade clauses.
It’s unlikely Snow will move Grabovski or Kulemin, despite Strang noting the Isles track record for questionable signings. At this point it remains to be seen if Snow is in the market for an experienced defenseman. Like his peers, he will evaluate his club during training camp and pre-season play before deciding if further moves are required.
If Snow gets into trade talks for a defenseman with the Blackhawks or Bruins it might not cost him a roster player. As both teams need to shed salary, they could accept a package containing a draft pick, prospect and/or an affordable young player in return.
Boychuk or Oduya carry partial no-trade clauses and could be unwilling to join the Islanders. Leddy and McQuaid, however, can be dealt anywhere. Leddy is a restricted free agent next summer, while McQuaid is unrestricted. Like most of the Islanders defense, however, Leddy only has four years of NHL experience.
The Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers could also have interest in acquiring a defenseman. The Stars and Wings need a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot and could set their sights on Boychuk or McQuaid.
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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