Speculation persists over the trade status of struggling Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, who’s been singled out for criticism by coach Randy Carlyle, as well as from several Toronto pundits.
GM Dave Nonis has frequently denied shopping Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner, adding if he were to move either player it would have to be for a blue-chip player of a similar age (23). TSN’s Darren Dreger, however, suggests there’s a chance Kadri could be dealt, but the Leafs need a center in return.
On Thursday, Nonis told TSN Radio he was willing to move Kadri if the right deal came along. He pointed out, however, “there’s a difference between willing to and trying to.” In other words, Nonis is willing to listen, but he’s not actively peddling the young forward.
Sportsnet’s Luke Fox reports Leafs assistant GM Claude Loiselle acknowledged the strong chemistry Kadri had last season with winger Joffrey Lupul has vanished this season. Loiselle also claims the tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference is forcing the Leafs to consider trade partners in the Western Conference. That limits their trade options – for Kadri or anyone else on their roster – to only 14 teams.
Leafs president Tim Leiweke recently told The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle the days of his club making knee-jerk deals in which they part with young assets are over. That would also explain the Leafs’ reluctance to part with Kadri and Gardiner.
Kadri’s not untouchable, but he won’t be part of any quick fix move for a playoff rental player. If he’s traded, the return must address the Leafs’ needs now and in the future.
HURRICANES HAVE GOALIES TO MOVE
The Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltenders continue to draw attention from NHL observers. The team is currently carrying Cam Ward, Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters and it’s expected GM Jim Rutherford will ship out Khudobin or Peters in the coming weeks.
It seems unlikely Rutherford would shop long-time starter Ward, whose contract contains a no-trade clause. Only last month Rutherford dismissed speculation Ward was available.
That hasn’t prevented some pundits from suggesting he could be dealt. Dreger believes the Edmonton Oilers could target Ward in the off-season. Their current tandem of Ilya Bryzgalov and Ben Scrivens are both unrestricted free agents this summer and there’s no guarantee either will return. Such a move could prove costly for the Oilers and Ward would have to agree to be dealt.
Ward is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury, so he, Khudobin and Peters won’t be moved anytime soon. As long as the Hurricanes remain in the playoff race they won’t move Ward and even if they drop out of the chase Rutherford seems reluctant to move him. It will take a significant offer to convince the Hurricanes GM to trade his franchise goalie.
EXPIRING CONTRACTS OF CALLAHAN, GIRARDI ATTRACT TRADE WINDS
The UFA status of N.Y. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi has in recent weeks made them the subject of frequent trade conjecture.
New York Post columnist Larry Brooks notes the Rangers surge into a playoff berth likely means Callahan and Girardi won’t be moved by the trade deadline. While the Blueshirts could lose one or both for nothing to free agency, Brooks doubts GM Glen Sather would jeopardize his team’s playoff hopes by moving either of these key players.
Scarcely a week goes by this season without trade chatter over Rangers blueliner Michael Del Zotto, but of late his name isn’t popping up as often as it used to. That’s likely due to the Rangers’ rumored asking price of a top-four defenseman.
A PRE-DEADLINE TRADE DEADLINE?
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun observes the NHL’s Olympic break (Feb. 9-25) actually creates two trade deadlines. He points out there’s the March 5 trade deadline (3 pm ET) and the Olympic trade freeze period, which goes into effect at 3 pm ET on Feb. 7 through to 11:59 pm ET on Feb. 23.
LeBrun notes that will leave only 10 days between the end of the Olympic freeze to the trade deadline for NHL GMs to engage in late-season trade activity.
That creates the possibility of significant player movement leading up to Feb. 7 as GMs try to avoid the post-Olympic rush and get their jump on their rivals in the trade market.
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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