Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs trades coming after Christmas freeze?

(Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The NHL’s annual Christmas trade freeze is now in effect, giving some GMs a chance to regroup over the holiday period and consider potential moves for when the freeze ends at midnight Dec. 27.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis is seeking help for his beleaguered club. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Nonis acknowledged he’s received inquiries for some of his young players – including James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier – but the offers won’t provide immediate or long-term help.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons reported van Riemsdyk isn’t going anywhere and Nonis won’t consider moving Gardiner or Rielly unless blown away by an offer that includes young players. The Leafs GM also said he has no plans to fire coach Randy Carlyle.

Nonis denied shopping Gardiner, but Dreger cited sources claiming the 23-year-old blueliner was mentioned in trade talks as the Leafs search for a top-six forward. Shopping Gardiner in a package deal could be necessary to land a return that would significantly bolster Toronto’s scoring punch.

Kadri and Bernier won’t be dealt, but Reimer is attractive trade bait. With the Leafs leading the league in shots against per game (35.8), trading Reimer would weaken their goaltending depth and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

The Leafs were reportedly interested in New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, but not at the asking price of a top-four defenseman. Dreger speculated the Rangers, who are in need of a right-handed shot on defense, could target Cody Franson.

Del Zotto’s been on the market for some time, but the Rangers must lower or change their asking price to entice more suitors.

COULD THE SENATORS LAND HEMSKY?
The Ottawa Senators were believed to have been pursuing Del Zotto, but ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun suggested the emergence of hometown youngster Codi Ceci has cooled that interest. LeBrun feels their focus could shift to landing a top-six forward.

Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky could interest the Senators. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and the Oilers unsuccessfully tried to trade him last summer.

To Hemsky’s credit, he hasn’t allowed the situation to adversely affect his play or his relationship with the club. Still, he expects this season to be his last with the Oilers.

Half of Hemsky’s $5-million salary will be paid out by mid-season, making him more attractive to budget-conscious teams like the Senators. His injury history dampened his trade value last summer, but that could improve if he remains healthy into the new year.

DEVILS TO LIKELY STAND PAT
The New Jersey Devils are still feeling the absence of “retired” star Ilya Kovalchuk, but goaltender Martin Brodeur told Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger he doesn’t expect they’ll acquire a scorer unless it’s a big move involving a number of players.

Teammates Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias claimed there’s no reason for a trade, believing they can win with their current roster. With the Devils sitting only two points out of a playoff berth in the Metropolitan Division, it’s understandable why they feel that way.

Chere noted the return of several injured players (including Ryane Clowe, Bryce Salvador and Adam Larsson) in the coming weeks should bolster the lineup and lessen the need for a trade.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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