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Rumor Roundup: Trade talk dies down as holiday freeze approaches

November saw a number of notable NHL players like Matt Duchene, Patrick Marleau, and Ryan Johansen pop up in the rumor mill, but nothing has come of it.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

November saw a number of notable NHL players pop up in the rumor mill. Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets pivot Ryan Johansen, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, and Edmonton Oilers forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle became hot topics of trade speculation.

Moving into mid-December and with the league's holiday trade freeze (Dec. 19-27) just over a week away, much of the trade chatter regarding those players has cooled off or completely died out.

Since Duchene first surfaced in trade talk in early-November, he's become one of the league's hottest offensive stars. Most observers now assume Avs GM Joe Sakic was simply trying to light a fire under the 24-year-old, who was off to a slow start.'s Michael Russo believes just because Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is listening to inquiries about Johansen doesn't mean he'll trade his first-line center. It'll likely take much more than rival clubs are willing to pay to pry Johansen away from the Jackets.

Marleau hasn't confirmed reports that emerged out of San Jose claiming he'd accept a trade to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers. The fact he listed two California rivals and a club that can't afford his $6.6 million cap hit quickly brought the speculation about him to a sudden halt.

It's widely assumed the Oilers will eventually do something to address their roster weaknesses, possibly by trading Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle. Such a move, however, now isn't expected until the off-season.

New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic also created a buzz last month when it was revealed he'd requested a trade last summer to a Western Canadian team for family reasons. The limited number of destinations and the Isles' asking price of a comparable blueline has led much of the Hamonic trade talk to fizzle out. Amid talk of a potential three-way deal involving another team, many pundits now feel it could take until next summer to work out a trade.

As a result, there's a resurgence of speculation regarding potential UFAs like Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal, and Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dustin Byfuglien. However, there's no indication these players are about to hit the trade block.

Stamkos and the Lightning remain tight-lipped with the media regarding the status of contract negotiations. That led to the Toronto media freaking out over Stamkos liking a tweet linking to a TSN panel discussing whether the Maple Leafs should pursue him via trade or free agency.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Staal's agent recently met with Hurricanes GM Ron Francis, with both sides agreeing to postpone further discussions until January. There's no word if Byfuglien and the Jets have held recent contract discussions.

Meanwhile, only one trade of note (the Calgary Flames acquiring goalie Kevin Poulin from the Lightning) has taken place since the regular season began. There could be an increase in trade activity leading up to the holiday freeze. However, the last notable pre-holiday freeze deal took place on Dec. 17, 2012, when the Arizona Coyotes dealt center Kyle Turris to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round pick. Don't be surprised if there's no significant trade activity next week.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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