Early this NHL season, defensemen appear to be a hot commodity in the trade market. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets emerged as the first clubs reportedly seeking blueline depth, but the Buffalo Sabres apparently got in the hunt even sooner. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman cites an NHL GM claiming the Sabres search for a left-shooting rearguard stretches back to this year's draft.
Two current possibilities for the Sabres could be found in Tampa Bay or Anaheim. A recent report out of Tampa Bay claims the Lightning could try moving Matt Carle, while the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Ducks are listening to offers for Cam Fowler.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson also shoots lefts and Garrioch also claims the Blues are willing to deal him. However, don't expect him to go anywhere until Kevin Shattenkirk (lower-body injury) returns to action.
Friedman's source didn't say what the Sabres are offering up in return. Considering they're carrying young talent and extra picks in the 2016 draft, most likely they'll draw upon those to land that left-shooting defender.
The Philadelphia Flyers inability to find any takers for veteran defenseman Luke Schenn puzzles Friedman, who feels Schenn's age (26) and eligibility for UFA status next summer should make him an attractive trade candidate. He acknowledges Schenn's salary ($3.6-million cap hit) is an issue, especially if the Flyers aren't willing to pick up part of it. Another GM told Friedman Schenn's market value could improve as more of his salary is spent.
Salary is only part of the issue for Schenn. His lack of speed makes him a defensive liability. Even as most of his salary gets spent by the Flyers over the course of the season, it could take until the Feb. 29 trade deadline to find a willing trade partner.
Friedman also reports teams are focusing on the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, as both clubs are carrying eight blueliners. Jamie Oleksiak of the Stars has only seen action in two games thus far, while Jarred Tinordi of the Canadiens has yet to get into a game.
Both are big defensemen (Oleksiak is 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Tinordi 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds) and unable to crack their respective rosters. They must also pass through waivers to be demoted, something neither club wants to risk. As Friedman notes, with the Stars and Canadiens doing well, they're in no hurry to move those blueliners.
Teams could also keep an eye on contract negotiations between the Minnesota Wild and Jared Spurgeon, who's a restricted free agent in July. Though undersized at 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, the 25-year-old Spurgeon is a big-minute, puck-moving defenseman. If negotiations stall, however, StarTribune.com's Michael Russo believes the Wild could move him in the off-season, rather than before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
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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