Any time the NHL Board of Governors meet, you can expert the rumor mill to grind harder.
But this week’s discussion could be especially lively with the injury-depleted Toronto Maple Leafs scrambling for offensive help while the Florida Panthers are in full “bail” mode.
The Buffalo Sabres would also consider offers on high-priced veterans, even though new hockey czar Pat LaFontaine isn’t done assembling his new hockey management team. Finding takers won’t be easy, though, due to the one-time lowering of the salary cap coming out of the lockout.
Not a lot of contenders have room to maneuver. Many teams would have to shed salary to take on more salary.
Here are some scenarios to keep an eye on, according to various reports:
- As the losses mount for the Islanders, something has to give. Poor Jack Capuano looks like a Dead Coach Walking and hapless general manager Garth Snow is shopping for goaltending help even as 900-year-old Evgeni Nabokov gets healthier. There was some chatter about the Islanders bringing back deposed Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, but the New York Post doubts the franchise is willing to spend that kind of money.
- Teams are always looking for a puck-moving defenseman, so Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov could have some appeal. He is a pending restricted free agent, but he could always head to the KHL if his next NHL offer is not to his liking. That cuts into his trade value.
- The Leafs and Dallas Stars discussed a possible Vernon Fiddler trade earlier this season. The Ottawa Sun notes Fiddler would welcome a trade and embrace a bigger role elsewhere, but could he really give Toronto much of a boost with centers Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland on injured reserve?
- The Boston Bruins lost key forwards Loui Eriksson (concussion) and Chris Kelly (ankle) to ominous injuries during their violent game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins may have to look outside the organization for help.
- The Rangers can look forward to some massive salary cap concerns now that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has his seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension in hand. Captain Ryan Callahan is just one of the players GM Glen Sather needs to re-sign at great cost. Sather passed on the chance to buy out Brad Richards last summer, but he could pull that lever after this season.
- Rather than re-sign Ryan Miller to a Lundqvist-like contract, the Sabres could move him. The Islanders and St. Louis Blues are most frequently mentioned bidders for Miller. But would Miller accept a trade to the Islanders? And is there a chance in Hades he would re-sign with that hapless operation?
- As for the Blues, the Ottawa Sun suggested GM Doug Armstrong would be willing to sell high on first-line winger T.J. Oshie to create the cap space needed to add, say, Miller. That seems a bit far-fetched but Armstrong is a bold operator.
- Folks keep hearing that Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is pondering a big move. But the Habs have won give consecutive games, so perhaps he should focus on extending P.K. Subban’s deal and ending all the trade speculation swirling around the elite young D-man.
- Many teams are interested in young defenseman Michael Del Zotto, but not may of those teams don’t have good Top Four-caliber defensemen to give the Rangers back in a trade. The Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes fit into that category. Perhaps Marc Staal’s latest injury will force the Rangers to re-commit to Del Zotto.
- Speaking of the Hurricanes, there has been plenty of chatter about there about that team moving Tim Gleason. But what is the market for him, really? Also, goaltenders Justin Peters and Anton Khudobin could be options for the desperate Islanders. Carolina has three goaltenders now that Khudobin and Cam Ward are back to work.
- Add Colorado to that list of teams looking for some reinforcement on the blue line. The Avalanche allowed four or more goals four times in the last 3 ½ weeks. With Montreal looking to add an impact scorer up front, there is lots of speculation about a forward (Paul Stastny? Ryan O’Reilly) heading north.