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Langenbrunner the first domino

Jamie Langenbrunner was dealt to Dallas for a conditional draft pick. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Jamie Langenbrunner was dealt to Dallas for a conditional draft pick. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The trade of right winger Jamie Langenbrunner from New Jersey to Dallas last week is considered by many observers to be the first of several salary-dumping deals by the Devils.

It's believed GM Lou Lamoriello will attempt to move out other pending unrestricted free agents such as center Jason Arnott, defenseman Andy Greene and goaltender Johan Hedberg in hopes of stocking up on draft picks.

Arnott's contract carries a no-movement clause, but he's believed to be willing to waive it for the right
trade.

The New York Post reported of “rumors from Canada” claiming the Montreal Canadiens were interested in the veteran center, but Arnott said he hasn't been approached about waiving his clause yet.

The Habs need an offensive boost and lack a big, physical scoring center, but the 36-year-old Arnott has a lengthy injury history and with only 18 points in 42 games, is clearly no longer the dominant player he once was.

Even if Arnott agreed to be dealt to Montreal, at this stage in his career he won't address their anaemic offensive problems.

Hedberg has a no-trade clause and there's been no word if Lamoriello has approached him about waiving it. Greene, however, has no such restrictions in his contract and could be dealt anywhere without his permission.

One veteran who doesn't have to worry about being traded is long-time Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who told the New Jersey Star-Ledger he expected Lamoriello to make more trades, but doesn't expect to be one of them. Lamoriello has already stated that Brodeur will not be moved.

Arnott and Greene are likely to be traded, but Hedberg may be retained to share the goalie duties with Brodeur for the remainder of the season. If all goes well, the Devils may want to re-sign Hedberg, provided he's willing to accept a one- or two-year extension equal to or slightly higher than the $1.5 million he's earning this season.

Northjersey.com's Tom Gulitti looked ahead to Lamoriello's priorities beyond this season, which include freeing up sufficient cap space to re-sign restricted free agent left winger Zach Parise to a long-term extension.

Gulitti also writes the Devils will likely seek a new coach in the off-season and need to bring in a couple of puck-moving defensemen.

Gulitti believes Parise's re-signing “should've been done already,” but with the Devils’ payroll for next season currently sitting at more than $50 million for 15 players and with more than $32 million in cap space already committed to nine players in 2012-13, Lamoriello is likely concerned about his cap space going forward. 

The Devils GM has to consider the uncertainty of both the salary cap for next season and the new collective bargaining agreement following 2011-12.

Fortunately for Lamoriello, he has time on his side as Parise's eligibility for RFA status begins July 1.

STARS GEARING UP FOR POST-SEASON

In acquiring Langenbrunner, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has indicated his desire to bolster his club's depth for a playoff run.

It should also finally put to rest speculation Nieuwendyk would trade star center Brad Richards if he’s unable to get the pending UFA under contract by the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

Richards told Newsday's Steve Zipay that his agent has spoken with the Stars GM regarding the team's uncertain ownership situation, but contract talks have yet to begin. Richards also insisted he wasn't concerned and remained focused on his current on-ice success. Zipay doubts the Stars, currently perched atop the Pacific Division and third overall in the Western Conference, would move Richards now.

Nieuwendyk, meanwhile, told Sportsnet.ca's Mark Spector that it's always been his intention to re-sign Richards and the acquisition of Langenbrunner sends a message his team will do whatever possible to win.

It also sends a message to prospective owners that the Stars are trying to become a Stanley Cup contender. That would make them far more attractive to billionaires hankering to own a sports team in a market that has proven capable of supporting a competitive NHL franchise.

To go deep in the playoffs, the Stars need Richards, who is on pace for his second straight 90-plus point season and has a proven record in the playoffs. Regardless of his free agent status and his contract negotiations, the Stars won't move Richards now.

COMMODORE DONE IN COLUMBUS

The Columbus Dispatch reported that defenseman Mike Commodore has played his final game with the Blue Jackets.

Commodore was sent home from the club's recent road trip as GM Scott Howson works the phones in hopes of finding a trade for the disgruntled blueliner.

In the meantime, Howson assigned Commodore to the American League, where he could be loaned to another AHL team, just as the Edmonton Oilers did with Sheldon Souray (who joined Hershey) last fall.

The Dispatch observed that Commodore's salary ($3.75 million per season) will make him difficult to move, but Howson admitted several teams had made inquires about the defenseman, who won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

 

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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