Eric Staal started slow, but has 15 points in his past 17 games. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto radio personality Bill Watters created a bit of a stir when he appeared on XM Radio on Wednesday and claimed the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs had a deal in place that would ship Hurricanes captain Eric Staal to the Maple Leafs.
Watters claimed the deal was on hold during Leafs GM Brian Burke's self-imposed holiday “trade freeze” period from Dec. 9 to 27, but once that freeze ended, the deal would go down, though Watters didn't say which Leafs players would head the other way.
Turns out, however, there's no need to worry about the return for Carolina. TSN's Bob McKenzie contacted Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, who said he had “no interest whatsoever in trading Eric Staal” or, for that matter, goaltender Cam Ward.
Staal and Ward haven't exactly had memorable seasons, but the 27-year-old stars remain the foundation of the Hurricanes, upon which they're likely to commence another rebuilding program when this season is over.
FLYERS FLUSH WITH CAP, PLENTY OF DECISIONS TO BE MADE
The Philadelphia Flyers could face difficulty re-signing one of their key defensemen.
CSNPhilly.com's John Boruk recently noted Matt Carle, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, is in line for a 40 percent pay raise over the $3.473 million he's earning this season, which would put his new salary at $4.8 million.
With the Flyers having $59 million committed to 20 players next season, they won't have sufficient cap space to re-sign Carle.
Given that Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen are aging, plus Pronger's concussion worries, GM Paul Holmgren would undoubtedly prefer to retain one of his better young defensemen, rather than lose him for nothing to free agency.
Re-signing Carle, however, would also make it difficult to re-sign UFA right winger Jaromir Jagr and restricted free agent right winger Jakub Voracek.
The Flyers would have to shed $5 million to clear sufficient cap space to re-sign Carle and still leave cap space for other moves.
Don't expect such a salary dump to happen during the season, though. Once the off-season rolls around, especially the draft weekend, the Flyers are bound to attract considerable attention, be it over Carle if they haven't re-signed him, or other players they'll need to move over the course of the summer to absorb his new contract.
If anyone can pull this off, it's Holmgren, who's proven masterful at retaining and adding talent, while bumping against the salary cap.
RED, WHITE AND CROWDED BLUELINE
It looks like the Montreal Canadiens will have a logjam on their blueline in the New Year.
Yvon Pedneault of Le Journal de Montreal noted the addition of Tomas Kaberle and return of Chris Campoli means the Canadiens will have eight defensemen on their roster. This number will rise to nine if and when Andrei Markov returns from knee surgery later this season.
If injuries don't wallop the Canadiens defense corps again, GM Pierre Gauthier will have to consider trading one of his blueliners, especially if Markov returns to action before the February trade deadline.
The trade candidates are Campoli, who's seen little playing time since returning from a hamstring injury, or Yannick Weber, whose big shot from the point is the only reason he's still in the lineup.
LIGHTNING GOALTENDER ISSUES MOUNT
Keep an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the coming weeks.
Veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson has struggled, and if he doesn't improve soon, GM Steve Yzerman might call up Dustin Tokarski to see how he fares.
If Tokarski doesn't work out and Roloson still hasn't regained his form, it'll put more pressure on Yzerman to find another option via the trade market.
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 Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.