The New Jersey Devils recent coaching change could stoke trade chatter in the coming weeks if the move fails to lift the club back into playoff contention.
Earlier this month, the New York Post's Larry Brooks advocated shedding veterans to improve the Devils chances of winning the 2015 Draft lottery. Brooks suggested forwards Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat and Steve Bernier along with defenseman Marek Zidlicky might attract interest from playoff contenders. He also wondered if long-time Devils star Patrik Elias might waive his no-move clause to go to a Stanley Cup contender.
NBC Sports' Mike Halford considers Jagr the Devils' most valuable and moveable asset, though he wonders if the 42-year-old veteran could agree to be dealt. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Josh Yohe reports Jagr still likes playing in New Jersey but said he's open to being traded if GM Lou Lamoriello believes it's in the club's best interest.
Most of the Devils veterans, including Jagr, will likely only fetch draft picks and prospects. Prior to the coaching change, ESPN.com's Craig Custance suggested Lamoriello move one of his good young defensemen for a young forward.
While Custance didn't name Adam Larsson as the rearguard to move, he suggested moving out a “certain defenseman who was a top-four pick and doesn't seem to have the trust of his head coach”. It'll be interesting to see if new coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens have more trust in Larsson.
MURRAY’S ASKING PRICE FOR STEWART HIGH
Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart has been a fixture in the rumor mill since October. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports Sabres GM Tim Murray will hang onto the 27-year-old winger until he gets an offer he likes. Garrioch claims the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings have expressed interest in Stewart, and speculates the asking price could be a “high-end prospect and a No. 1 pick.”
If that is truly Murray's asking price, he can forget about trading Stewart before the deadline. While there certainly appears to be some interest in the former two-time 28-goal scorer, he's managed only five goals and 10 points in 36 games this season. Add in his $4.2-million salary and it's no wonder Stewart hasn't been dealt yet.
As the trade deadline nears, it's certainly possible a desperate GM could take a chance on Stewart, but only if the winger stages a significant second-half turnaround or Murray lowers his asking price.
KINGS’ RICHARDS RUMORED TO MOVE
The Los Angeles Kings efforts to re-sign pending UFA winger and 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams could eventually force them to shed some salary to free up sufficient cap space beyond this season to retain him.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman notes Williams could postpone contract talks until the off-season if a deal isn't struck by the New Year, while the Kings are apparently seeking a little more time. That's prompted speculation among rumor bloggers they're trying to move center Mike Richards, who's been the subject of trade chatter since last season.
Richards, who turns 30 in February, maintains a well-earned reputation for two-way play, leadership and championship experience. Like Stewart, however, he is struggling through a career-worst performance, on pace for only 27 points in 82 games. Richards also carries an expensive cap hit ($5.75-million per season) through 2019-20, and last tallied over 60 points in 2010-11 during his final season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Despite his impressive credentials, the steady decline in Richards' performance combined with that lengthy and expensive contract screams buyer beware. Even if the Kings agreed to pick up part of his remaining salary, he remains an expensive gamble for clubs seeking an experienced center.
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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