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Fanning the trade flames

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has been a staple in the rumor mill all year. (Getty Images)

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Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has been a staple in the rumor mill all year. (Getty Images)

With the Calgary Flames failing to gain ground in the Western Conference and in danger of falling further out of the post-season chase, the calls for sweeping changes are growing.

The Calgary Sun's Steve MacFarlane offered up a detailed rundown of players the Flames should consider moving, including goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff (provided Henrik Karlsson proves he’s ready for more playing time), defenseman Robyn Regehr, pending UFAs Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison and Curtis Glencross, and, of course, Jarome Iginla, provided the captain was willing to accept a trade.

The word from Flames ownership several weeks ago was there wouldn't be any drastic changes, which included telling Iginla he wouldn't be asked to waive his movement clause this season.

Iginla won't be shopped and Karlsson would have to out-play Kiprusoff on a regular basis in the coming weeks before the latter becomes trade bait. It's doubtful significant moves will be made by mid-season, but if the Flames fail to gain any ground in the standings by mid-February a fire sale involving one or more of the other players noted by MacFarlane will become a real possibility.

However, the Flames have too many players carrying expensive contracts with movement clauses.

Iginla, Kiprusoff, Regehr and Tanguay are amongst 11 Flames with either “no-movement” or “no-trade” clauses.

Others, including Olli Jokinen, Ales Kotalik, Matt Stajan and Cory Sarich, haven't played well this season, which makes it very difficult to convince rival teams to take on their salaries by the trade deadline.

DEVILS TRADE TALK HEATS UP

The Flames weren't the only struggling team pundits and bloggers were suggesting had to be “blown up” by mid-season.

Despite suggestions the New Jersey Devils should shop goaltender Martin Brodeur, that's not going to happen.

Brodeur told the local media late last week he doesn't want to bail on the Devils now that they're going through a bad season, adding he likes living and playing in New Jersey.

When asked if he would waive his no-trade clause if he was approached by management, Brodeur said he'd cross that bridge when he came to it. GM Lou Lamoriello, however, quickly dismissed such talk.

Lamoriello wasted little time shooting down the Brodeur rumors, but other veteran Devils with movement clauses could be asked to waive them, including Jamie Langenbrunner. The Devils captain butted heads with coach Jacques Lemaire last season and might not be very happy about Lemaire replacing the fired John MacLean on an interim basis.

Langenbrunner is also an unrestricted free agent at season's end and could go unsigned, increasing the possibility he will be asked to waive his clause by the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

As Steve Politi of NJ.com wrote last week, the Devils' current lineup is “old, slow and expensive…low on chemistry and high on inflexibility,” lacking a puck-moving defenseman and a decent playmaking center.

Politi believes Lamoriello must address these problems as well as decide between now and the trade deadline which players are worth keeping and which should be moved.

The most likely to be moved are pending UFAs such as Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Adam Mair, Andy Greene and Johan Hedberg. All but Greene and Mair have no-trade clauses, but might be willing to waive them at the deadline to go to playoff contenders. Arnott has already admitted the thought of accepting a trade has crossed his mind.

After that it gets tricky. Movement clauses aside, the Devils have too many players with salaries that make them almost impossible to move. That group includes Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston, Colin White, Dainius Zubrus and Henrik Tallinder.

The players other teams would be keen to land - Brodeur, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and David Clarkson - are also those Lamoriello would be reluctant to trade.

Lamoriello has a well-earned reputation for building championship teams, but it's going to take time to rebuild the Devils into playoff contenders. Their fans will have get used to at least a couple more seasons being outside the playoffs.

BIEKSA BOUND FOR OTTAWA A BUNCH OF BULL

Amongst the Christmas wishes for the Ottawa Senators, laid out by Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch, was a plea for Santa to help GM Bryan Murray find a way to acquire Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Only way that's going to work is if the Canucks get Sami Salo back before New Year's Day - which they won't, as the Vancouver Sun reported his return is now slated for sometime in February, 2011 - and if Santa can magically free up cap space for the Senators to comfortably absorb the remainder of Bieksa's $3.75 million cap hit.

If the Canucks did move Bieksa they wouldn't take back salary as they'd need the cap space for Salo's return. Unless the Canucks or Senators make separate salary-dumping deals with other teams first, or Murray buries more than $3.75 million in the minors, don't expect to see Bieksa patrolling the Senators blueline this season. 

 

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.

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