The Ottawa Senators are off to a 1-4-1 start to the season. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray has seen enough of his club’s poor start and is looking to shake things up.
Murray told reporters Thursday he’d been in touch with several teams, including the Minnesota Wild, as he considers a trade as one option for snapping the Senators out of their current funk.
The Ottawa Citizen reported Murray expressed disappointment in his team’s defensive play and the Ottawa Sun cited sources claiming the Senators GM was in the market for an experienced physical defenseman, something they’ve lacked since losing the rugged Anton Volchenkov to free agency this summer.
Talking trade is one thing, but pulling it off is another. According to CapGeek.com the Senators only have about $341,000 in available salary cap space, meaning Murray has no room to take on extra salary and would have to seek a dollar-for-dollar swap.
Like the Senators, the Wild are off to a shaky start, but also lack significant cap space and might not be willing to part with any key defensemen.
Murray may be shopping around, but at this point in the season he’ll find it difficult to make a significant deal. If he does make a move, it’ll likely amount to a cosmetic one.
Murray’s admission he’s seeking a move could relegate the recent trade speculation swirling around Dallas Stars center Brad Richards to the back burner.
Craig Custance of The Sporting News pointed out the Los Angeles Kings have plenty of available cap space to take on a big salary and could pursue Richards if the Stars decide they cannot re-sign him.
ESPN.com’s John Buccigross, in response to a reader’s question, suggested the Stars should be able to get a first round pick, a prospect and a solid roster player for Richards.
Buccigross listed the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers as potential suitors, adding the Maple Leafs and Rangers could offer up a “five- to seven-year, $30-million to $40-million contract.”
Meanwhile, Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News, in response to a reader’s email, rejected the possibility Richards would accept a contract extension similar to the three-year, $21-million deal Joe Thornton recently inked with the San Jose Sharks.
Heika noted Richards will be the best available player in next summer’s UFA market, which will have considerable impact on his value. Uncertainty over the Stars ownership remains a factor as he’s unlikely to be offered a new contract until there’s a new owner in place.
Bear in mind that since 2005-06 only two trades involving notable players have occurred early in the season: the San Jose Sharks acquisition of Joe Thornton from Boston and the Columbus Blue Jackets trading for Sergei Fedorov from Anaheim. Both took place in November of 2005 and thanks to salary cap constraints there haven’t been any comparable early-season deals since.
In other words, regardless of how the Stars are playing, Richards won’t be moved before the New Year.
A recent report claiming the Montreal Canadiens were close to re-signing star defenseman Andrei Markov to a five- or six-year contract extension were dismissed by his agent Don Meehan, who told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun he’s had no contact with Canadiens management this season, dismissing the story as “absolute nonsense.”
A Canadiens defenseman who is keen to start contract talks is Hal Gill who, like Markov, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next July.
His agent told RDS.ca he’s ready to listen to Habs management if they’re willing to open contract talks and Gill has stated he’d prefer to stay in Montreal.
What might work in Gill’s favor is GM Pierre Gauthier seems more willing to negotiate deals during the season than his predecessor, Bob Gainey, plus Gill has good chemistry with defense partner Josh Gorges.
Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News recently suggested the Washington Capitals young goalie tandem of Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov will not be good enough to carry their club to a championship.
Kulfan claimed there’s speculation the Caps will pursue Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun if the Panthers are out of the playoff race by the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
Anything’s possible, but two weeks into this season the young Capitals duo is holding strong. If they continue to play well throughout the season there’ll be little need for Washington to seek a goaltending upgrade.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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.