With the NHL's holiday trade freeze beginning at midnight on Dec. 19 there's growing speculation over possible moves leading up to the deadline.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance reports Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray is willing to be creative after noting a recent decline in trade talks, leading Murray to acknowledge his asking prices could be too high.
Winger Chris Stewart, a recent healthy scratch against the Los Angeles Kings, is considered most likely to be dealt. The Buffalo News' John Vogl reports the 27-year-old winger's poor play could affect his trade value, as well as his chances for a lucrative contract via free agency in July. Vogl claims the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators could be interested in Stewart.
While Stewart, fellow winger Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers are fixtures in this season's rumor mill, Custance's colleague Pierre LeBrun reports the Sabres could be willing to shop one of their goalies. Murray said he hasn't receive any calls on netminders Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth. Both are unrestricted free agents in July, and LeBrun speculates he could re-sign one of them and shop the other.
Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has scouted the Sabres, but CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty notes Chiarelli has also followed the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. While Bruins star Zdeno Chara returned from injury and center David Krejci is expected back soon, Haggerty believes they still need a top-line right winger with some size and strength along with a veteran top-four defenseman.
Haggerty notes Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, also recently returned from injury, is playing right wing for the first time in four years. That doesn't mean the Blackhawks are showcasing the 32-year-old Sharp as a right winger, as they're probably reluctant to move left wing Brandon Saad off their top line.
The Blackhawks possess limited cap space for next season and it's assumed they'll have to dump salary. While Sharp was mentioned in trade rumors last summer, the Blackhawks don't have to move him this season. They could be trying to trade unhappy forward Jeremy Morin, who was recently sent to their farm team on a two-week conditioning stint. He's a left winger with limited NHL experience, which won't address the Bruins needs.
As for the Blues, there's been talk they could move T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund or Alex Steen, but TSN's Darren Dreger feels that's wishful think among some rival GMs. Dreger said he spoke with Blue GM Doug Armstrong and doesn't get the sense he wants to shake things up right now.
Sportsnet's Damien Cox reports Calgary Flames president Brian Burke said GM Brad Treliving has permission to spend up to the cap ceiling if he finds the right deal to improve his club's playoff chances this season. Darren Dreger believes the Flames prefer pursuing young players who could have long-term futures in Calgary.
Given the Flames surprisingly strong play, they're not in a rush to make a significant move right now. Treliving also intends to observe Burke's practice of beginning the holiday trade freeze a week ahead of the league's start date of Dec. 19. If he intends to swing a trade it will have to wait until after Dec. 27.
Dreger also believes the Edmonton Oilers should make a pitch for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, who backstopped his over-matched club to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. It's doubtful, however, the Leafs will part with Reimer right now. They have no one in their system to serve as a suitable backup in case starter Jonathan Bernier struggles or gets hurt down the stretch.
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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