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Sunny pastures for Souray

Lyle Richardson
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With 12 points and a minus-10 rating in 28 games, 33-year-old Sheldon Souray is having one of the worst seasons of his career. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Sunny pastures for Souray

Lyle Richardson
By:

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray is willing to help his struggling club if management decides to shop some veterans by the trade deadline.

Souray told local reporters last week he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if management approached him about a potential trade, provided the deal made sense for the team as well as his family.

The blueliner’s children currently live in Los Angeles with their mother and frequently commute to Edmonton to see him. Souray would probably prefer a deal to either a California-based team or one in the American west in order to remain close to his children during the season.

Offering to waive his clause was a nice gesture by Souray, but the two years remaining on his contract after 2009-10 – at a cap hit of $5.4 million per season – makes him extremely difficult to move.

Players like Souray, who are under expensive multi-year contracts, usually aren’t moved during the season, so the earliest he’s likely to be dealt is this summer when teams have more cap space and thus more willingness to trade.

• It didn’t take long for the first wacky rumor of 2010 to pop up in the NHL rumor mill.

For about a week an Internet-generated rumor claimed Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf had requested a trade and GM Darryl Sutter was shopping him for a scoring forward.

It eventually prompted a reporter to ask Sutter about it, which the Flames GM quickly dismissed, saying whomever started it “is not doing anything.”

By generating enough heat over the rumor to eventually make it into the mainstream media the originator accomplished their goal, which only goes to show how a lack of trade activity can allow such speculation to flourish.

• As Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract talks with the Atlanta Thrashers continue, speculation is growing he could hit the trade block soon.

TSN and ESPN both reported Thrashers GM Don Waddell was believed to be quietly gauging other teams’ interest in the sniper.

Waddell told TSN he hadn’t alerted teams of his intent to move Kovalchuk, but could be getting closer to doing so.

In recent weeks the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals have been listed as potential trade candidates, but there are various reasons why those clubs could be unable or unwilling to land him.

The Blackhawks are playing very well, already possess considerable offensive depth and have strong team chemistry, so it makes no sense for them to pursue Kovalchuk. The Flyers are pressed for cap space and appear more interested in giving coach Peter Laviolette more time to improve their roster rather than making a significant roster shake-up.

The Bruins could use both a scoring forward and another experienced puck-moving defenseman, which could force management to seek more affordable options. The Capitals already have a first-line superstar left wing in Alex Ovechkin, so it makes little sense to blow up their future by adding another.

That leaves the Kings as perhaps the only viable destination for Kovalchuk, but if they’re still playing well in the coming weeks, GM Dean Lombardi might be more interested in tweaking his lineup rather than acquiring an expensive playoff rental player.

• Despite the Colorado Avalanche’s stunning success thus far, the local media is concerned the club could suffer a significant second-half slump that would jeopardize their playoff hopes.

Much of the concern surrounds the “dead weight” of expensive veterans and if the Avalanche can somehow move them before the March 3 trade deadline.

Darcy Tucker, Marek Svatos, Ruslan Salei and John-Michael Liles have been singled out as those who aren’t playing up to their expensive salaries – totaling just less than $12 million combined – but it’s Liles who’s incurred the most displeasure of the local pundits, as well as coach Joe Sacco.

Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post claimed: “it seems no secret…the Avs would like to deal Liles to Mystery, Alaska for a bag of pucks.”

Easier said than done, however, as Liles has two more years at a cap hit of $4.2 million per season, plus he carries a limited no-trade clause whereby he can name up to 18 teams he would not accept a trade to.

Still, he is a skilled puck-moving defenseman, so despite his salary and movement clause he could have value on the trade market. Although, given the fact NHL GMs tend to shy away from players under multi-year contracts during the season, the earliest he’ll be dealt is probably at the June draft.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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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Sunny pastures for Souray