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Lecavalier leaving?

Vincent Lecavalier has 26 points in 32 games for the Lightning this year. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Vincent Lecavalier has 26 points in 32 games for the Lightning this year. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Don’t look now, but the Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors have started up again.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun recently suggested Vincent Lecavalier didn’t look happy playing for Tampa Bay, noting his offensive struggles this season and claiming his coach didn’t seem to know how to use him.

While Lecavalier is in the first year of his 11-year, $70 million-plus contract, which also contains a no-movement clause, LeBrun wondered what would happen next if Lecavalier’s situation didn’t improve in the coming months.

That sparked further speculation later in the week as columnist Yvon Pedneault and former NHL coach Pat Burns also weighed in on the possibility of Lecavalier moving later in the season.

Even if Lecavalier were to decide he needs a change of scenery, don’t expect it to happen this season. High-salaried players on multi-year contracts don’t get moved during the season because of the salary cap constraints upon every NHL team.

The earliest such a deal might happen is late June or early July when teams have more available cap space and the willingness to spend it.

• A recent report in La Presse claimed the Montreal Canadiens were shopping goaltender Jaroslav Halak, noting hockey analyst Jacques Demers claimed “three or four teams” have interest in the Habs backup, while another rumor claimed the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings might also check him out.

That’s led to suggestions Canadiens GM Bob Gainey should try to move Halak now, perhaps in a package deal, to land some second line scoring depth.

Whoever dreamed up the rumor about the Blues having interest in Halak obviously hasn’t paid much attention to how well their goalie tandem of Chris Mason and Ty Conklin has performed this season. Both goalies currently have better stats than Halak, so acquiring him makes no sense from the Blues’ standpoint.

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Red Wings GM Ken Holland has repeatedly stated he has no intention of making trades this season, particularly for a goaltender, so forget about that possibility.

It’s probable a few teams have some interest in Halak, but if Gainey were to move him it’d likely be much later in the season – perhaps at the trade deadline – depending on where the Canadiens are in the standings, how well starter Carey Price is playing and what their roster needs are at the time.

• Speaking of the Blues, a report in Sunday’s Ottawa Sun mentioned talk of them making a blockbuster deal, namely targeting Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal.

That talk probably isn’t coming out of St. Louis or Carolina, though.

For one, the Blues aren’t likely to deviate from their rebuilding program despite the rough start to this season and if they do, they wouldn’t want to saddle themselves with a huge contract.

For another, while the Hurricanes are certainly trying to shed some salary, Staal isn’t among those they’re trying to move. If anything, GM Jim Rutherford wants to surround his franchise player with younger, faster talent.

• New York Post hockey columnist Larry Brooks reported Friday Rangers GM Glen Sather offered up defense prospect Bobby Sanguinetti to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for promising, but struggling right winger Peter Mueller.

Coyotes GM Don Maloney apparently made a counter-offer of Mueller for either Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan, but Sather won’t part with either of them.

Brooks went on to blame Sather for saddling the Rangers with too many players on immovable contracts, giving him little to offer up as trade bait to bolster the sagging Blueshirts.

No one is surprised the hefty deals for Chris Drury, Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival are coming back to haunt the Rangers and Sather, who signed them to those contracts.

• The NHL’s holiday trade freeze starts Dec. 19, but don’t expect any moves by the Toronto Maple Leafs before then.

GM Brian Burke has a long-standing tradition of not trading players so close to the holidays to avoid upsetting their families.

Even if he were so inclined, the Leafs have been playing well in recent weeks, which will make it difficult to decide which players, particularly his pending free agents, to move.

The National Post reported Burke will have to decide which players are worth re-signing. The most intriguing would be left wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nikolai Kulemin, center Matt Stajan, defenseman Ian White and goalie Vesa Toskala.

The Post suggests any of those five might fetch a second round draft pick by the trade deadline, but, depending on their performance, it might be worthwhile to re-sign them.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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