While Ottawa searches around the league for scoring help up front, many teams have made complementary players available, as the Olympic roster freeze approaches.
Ottawa Senators management recently concluded meetings with their scouting staff to discuss the club's current position, as well as long- and short-term options for improvement.
It's widely known GM Bryan Murray is in the market for a scoring winger. Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports Buffalo Sabres left winger Matt Moulson and Edmonton Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky are among Murray's trade targets, while the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch believes Moulson tops the list.
Murray's nephew Tim Murray, a former Senators assistant GM, is now the GM of the Sabres so it's natural to assume the pair will talk trade in the coming weeks. The elder Murray, however, shouldn't expect any family discounts, as Tim said he won't move Moulson, goaltender Ryan Miller or winger Steve Ott unless he gets significant returns. He also said he's under no pressure to trade those players before the Olympic break. It's expected he'll retain the trio until the March 5 trade deadline in hopes of driving up their value.
Warren and Garrioch believe the Senators will draw from their blueline depth for trade bait. Veteran defenseman Chris Phillips' UFA status this summer has some pundits suggesting the Boston Bruins could target him as a short-term replacement for the injured Dennis Seidenberg. Marc Methot was a recent healthy scratch, which could generate speculation about his trade status.
The Senators likely prefer moving a younger blueliner who isn't getting much playing time. Patrick Wiercioch or Eric Gryba could become trade bait, though they're not enough on their own to land a worthwhile rental player. Warren reports Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion said his club could make a move at any time, but Garrioch doubts they'll do so before the Olympic roster freeze on Feb. 7.
If the Senators wait too long they risk other clubs snapping up Moulson or Hemsky well before the trade deadline. There's also the risk of a bidding war for those wingers, which would drive up their trade value.
PLENTY OF SUPPORT PLAYERS AVAILABLE FOR TRADE
While the rumor mill churns over which notable NHL stars could be on the move by the trade deadline, several teams have quietly informed the rest of the league they have several lesser lights they're willing to deal.
Earlier this month TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the Carolina Hurricanes sent a league-wide e-mail saying right winger Tuomo Ruutu was available, along with left wingers Jiri Tlusty and Drayson Bowman, center Riley Nash, and defenseman Brett Bellemore. Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford subsequently denied Bellemore was on the trade block, but remained silent about the others.
Ruutu could attract the most interest from teams in need of an experienced physical winger with a decent scoring touch. He has a no-movement clause, but is reportedly willing to waiving it. A bigger problem could be his $4.75-million cap hit through 2015-16, though the Hurricanes could agree to pick up part of it to facilitate a deal.
McKenzie also reported the Vancouver Canucks did the same thing with right winger Dale Weise, as did the Tampa Bay Lightning with center Tom Pyatt and blueliner Keith Aulie. More recently, the Montreal Canadiens informed the rest of the league of the availability of Rene Bourque. Conflicting reports Monday claimed a deal that would've sent him to the Colorado Avalanche for P-A Parenteau, was rejected by either the Habs or the Avalanche. Either way, a Bourque-for-Parenteau swap isn't happening.
Bourque is more affordable than Ruutu at $3.33 million per season, which also runs through 2015-16, but he's seen as a one-dimensional forward whose scoring touch has abandoned him. He seems destined to become a buyout candidate in June. If so, it won't be a compliance buyout as the Habs have already used their allotment on Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.