Latest on Steven Stamkos, Loui Eriksson, Cam Ward and much more in your NHL Rumor Mill.
Highlights from Garrioch’s “Insider Trading.”
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports speculation over whether Steven Stamkos (a pending UFA in July) will re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s believed GM Steve Yzerman is attempting to clear some salary-cap room by shopping defenseman Matt Carle, who carries an annual cap hit of $5.5 million through 2017-18.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer the season goes without Stamkos re-signing, the more conjecture we can expect about his future in Tampa Bay. Carle has no points in nine games but is second on the Lightning in blocked shots. Still, his salary remains difficult to move during the season unless the Lightning are willing to pick up part of his cap hit or accept a toxic contract in return. The offseason could be a better time to try and move Carle.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen seeks a top-four defenseman but that could prove difficult to find right now. It’s believed he has some interest in Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Roman Polak, but Garrioch believes Kekalainen must be careful as his club’s playoff hopes are slim.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade market might not improve until closer to late-November. Even then, Kekalainen could find it difficult to land a top-four blueliner.
Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving is telling teams he wants to shake up his roster, though he doesn’t have any specifics in mind. A trade could be coming if the club doesn’t improve soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was a rumor last week suggesting Treliving was asking Lightning GM Steve Yzerman about Stamkos’ contract status. Few folks seriously believe a “Stamkos to Calgary” deal will take place. However, I do believe Treliving is serious about shaking things up if his club doesn’t improve. I think their biggest issue is improving their scoring depth, as they’re getting very little beyond their first line. He has the blueline depth to draw upon as trade bait to address that issue.
Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks could be the next NHL coach to lose his job if his club doesn’t improve soon. Defenseman Clayton Stoner “has been floated on the trade front” but he wont’ fetch much of a return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a coaching change is more likely than a trade for the Ducks right now. They just look so lifeless lately, and a team with their depth in talent shouldn’t be that flat.
Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been calling around in search of a defenseman. He’s like to move winger (and pending UFA) Loui Eriksson, who Sweeney apparently tried to trade several times in the offseason. Garrioch believes a playoff contender could take center Chris Kelly off their hands.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wonder if he’s made a call to the Flames? They have a recent trade history and the Flames have depth on defense. Not sure if the Flames would want a pending UFA in return. Maybe a playoff contender takes Kelly off the Bruins’ hands, but that likely won’t happen until around the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
It’s believed only a matter of time until the Carolina Hurricanes trade goalie Cam Ward, who’s eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward’s off to a decent start this season. Still, finding a decent fit at this stage in the season is tough. The Buffalo Sabres certainly need goaltending help, but probably not a short-term fix like Ward. The Columbus Blue Jackets are struggling, but they’re seeking a defenseman. The Calgary Flames have questionable depth between the pipes, but they’ll likely want the Hurricanes to take back Jonas Hiller. Semyon Varlamov has struggled, but the Colorado Avalanche seem willing to let him work through his poor start.
Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney is sniffing around for a blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maloney has depth in promising prospects to offer up as trade bait to land a defenseman. Given this point in the season, however, it could take another month before he finds a suitable deal.