Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Stewart still available, Blues and Jets may look for deals before trade freeze

Lyle Richardson
By:

Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Stewart still available, Blues and Jets may look for deals before trade freeze

Lyle Richardson
By:

The Buffalo Sabres and GM Tim Murray are continuing to look at their options regarding Chris Stewart, but he may not be the only option available as the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets may both be looking to swing deals to strengthen their lineups as they push towards the playoffs.

With the NHL holiday trade freeze slated for midnight on Dec. 19, there's increasing focus on Buffalo Sabres right wing Chris Stewart in the rumor mill. SI.com's Allan Muir reports Sabres GM Tim Murray is reportedly willing to move the 27-year-old winger for the right price but so far he hasn't found any takers.

Muir claims the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators are said to have interest in Stewart. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson adds the Pittsburgh Penguins to that list, while the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims the Calgary Flames are also among the interested parties.

Hurting Stewart's trade value is his woeful production this season, with only four points in 29 games. Factor in his $4.2-million salary for this season and it's no wonder Murray is having difficulty finding teams willing to take Stewart off his hands. We'll find out by midnight Friday if a rival GM becomes desperate enough to take a chance on him.

BLUES MAY MAKE MOVE TO PUT THEM OVER THE TOP

The St. Louis Blues have popped up of late in the rumor mill. Several teams, including the Boston Bruins, have scouted the Blues amid speculation forwards like Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie or Alex Steen could become trade candidates. There's conflicting reports, however, over how active they could be in the trade market.

TSN's Darren Dreger spoke with Blues GM Doug Armstrong following last week's NHL Board of Governors meeting, with Armstrong telling Dreger he likes his team right now. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, however, says he gets the sense the Blues could make one big move to get themselves over the playoff hump.

It wouldn't be the first time Armstrong's made a splash in the trade pool to boost his club's playoff hopes. Leading up to the 2014 March trade deadline, the Blues GM acquired goaltender Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres. At the time, many experts predicted that move would make the Blues legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, but Miller struggled as they were eliminated by Chicago in the first round. Armstrong opted not to re-sign Miller, who signed with Vancouver in July via free agency.

The failed Miller experiment could make Armstrong more cautious in this season's trade market. If he does make a move it'll likely be close to the trade deadline again.

BLUELINE LOGJAM FOR JETS

The Winnipeg Sun's Paul Friesen reports Kevin Cheveldayoff has yet to pull off a player-for-player trade during his tenure as Jets GM, but that could change in the near future.

Friesen notes the Jets will have a logjam on defense when sidelined blueliners Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Grant Clitsome return in the coming weeks. Moving Dustin Byfuglien to forward will partially help. Call-up Ben Chariot could be returned to their farm team but so far he's played well for the Jets. Demoting Paul Postma or Adam Pardy means they'll have to clear waivers and both are on one-way contracts worth around $700,000.

If the Jets defense corps continues playing well without Bogosian and Enstrom, Friesen wonders if Cheveldayoff might trade one of his high-end defensemen for depth at forward, or see what he can get for one of his third-pairing defensemen.

The Jets continue to jockey for playoff contention in the very tough Western Conference. While their goaltending and defensive numbers rank among the league's best, they enter this week 18th in goal differential, 22nd in power-play percentage (15.4) and 24th in goals per game. If they're to clinch a playoff berth this season they must boost their offensive production.

Cheveldayoff was very patient with his roster in the past and could remain so this season. However, if there's an opportunity to pluck a top-six scorer from a club seeking a quality defenseman in the weeks leading up to the March trade deadline, the Jets GM could go for it.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.

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Rumor Roundup: Stewart still available, Blues and Jets may look for deals before trade freeze