Sam Gagner is in the final year of a deal with a cap hit of $2.275 million before becoming an RFA next July. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
With the Toronto Maple Leafs in the market for an impact forward and the Edmonton Oilers lacking a skilled puck-moving defenseman, it's only natural these two clubs would be linked in trade rumors.
Damien Cox of The Toronto Star took to Twitter on Thursday to report “persistent chatter” the Leafs have interest in Oilers center Sam Gagner, with a defenseman going the other way.
Cox claimed the defenseman the Leafs would like to move most is Carl Gunnarsson.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini admitted he's had trade discussions, though he declined to mention which players were discussed or which teams he spoke to, but found “nothing that makes sense for us right now.”
Tambellini recently told the Edmonton Sun it made no sense to trade for a depth defenseman because the Oilers already have plenty of those and landing a top defenseman is nearly impossible at this juncture.
Those comments suggest Tambellini has no need for Gunnarsson, who at this stage in his career is considered a depth blueliner.
The only way Tambellini would be able to land a top-notch defenseman would be to trade a player such as Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, which is completely out of the question.
Ignore wild rumors about rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins making the roster merely to be showcased for a trade - the Oilers aren't moving him either.
Perhaps Gagner will become expendable if Nugent-Hopkins outplays him; otherwise, it wouldn't make sense for the Oilers to deal away their experienced second-line center.
Veteran right winger Ales Hemsky was constantly mentioned in trade chatter last season. He's in the final season of his current contract, lacks a no-trade clause and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, which will make him a popular subject around these parts once again.
Hemsky's injury history and $4.1 million salary, however, will make him unpalatable for most teams, at least this early in the season.
At this time, it’s unknown if Hemsky still fits into the Oilers’ long-term plans or if he wants to stay in town beyond this season.
WILL PARISE STAY OR WILL HE GO?
New Jersey Devils left winger Zach Parise was named the club's new captain, a move some see as a major step by management toward re-signing him to a long-term contract.
Parise, 27, told the New York Post the move would encourage him to stay with the team.
“Yes,” he told the Post. “I don't know how many times I have to say it. I like it here, and I want to stay here.”
The one-year contract he signed with the Devils this past summer fuelled speculation he’d be dealt later this season or walk away via free agency next July.
Until he signs a new long-term deal, Parise will continue to be dogged by questions about his future in New Jersey.
ARE AVERY’S NHL DAYS DONE?
It appears Sean Avery's NHL career is drawing to a close, as he passed unclaimed through waivers earlier this week.
Avery's agent said several European teams expressed interest in the 31-year-old left winger, but that he's willing to play wherever the Rangers send him, which, for now, is their American League affiliate in Hartford.
Once considered the NHL's most controversial player for his outspoken manner and abrasive on-ice personality, Avery's performance has noticeably declined over the past two years.
Rangers GM Glen Sather seemed to leave the door open for Avery's return to the NHL by suggesting he could play his way back with a good performance in Hartford.
Avery is currently in the final season of his contract worth a cap hit of $3.875 million.
To his credit, Avery has handled this situation well. It remains to be seen if he'll report to the minors or be loaned to a European team.
He'll become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but given his reputation and what happened when he signed with the Dallas Stars, it's unlikely he'll land with another NHL team.
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.