Will the Rangers trade their captain by the trade deadline?; Thomas Vanek must decide whether to sign with the Islanders, or become a trade asset; Tim Thomas becomes available; and what should the Stars' plan of attack be?
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports the Rangers could trade captain Ryan Callahan if he's unsigned by the March 5 trade deadline. While that move could adversely affect their playoff hopes, Brooks believes it would be necessary to ensure they get something for Callahan rather than risk losing him for nothing to free agency in July.
While Callahan's preference is to re-sign with the Rangers, Brooks says the right winger's asking price (seven years, $42 million) could be too expensive for GM Glen Sather, even though Callahan would certainly get that much on the open market this summer. Sather is reportedly gauging Callahan's trade value. Brooks suggests a potential return should be “at least a player who can step in immediately plus a legitimate prospect.” He also cites sources saying the Rangers have interest in Colorado Avalanche left winger Jamie McGinn, but doesn't know if that interest is tied to Callahan or a separate potential deal.
It's difficult to believe Sather would trade his captain at such a crucial point in the season, especially considering the GM’s past willingness to spend big on retaining key players and pursuing free agent talent. It could be a pressure tactic on Sather's part to force Callahan to accept a lesser deal. If Callahan won't budge, however, Sather's hand may be forced by deadline day.
As for McGinn, he was also linked to the Montreal Canadiens in a deal with the Avalanche that fell through earlier this week. The Avs are already deep at forward so one assumes if they are shopping the 25-year-old it would be for an experienced blueliner instead of a potential free agent winger like Callahan.
DOES THOMAS VANEK HAVE A LONG-TERM FUTURE WITH THE ISLANDERS?
Newday's Arthur Staple reports New York Islanders left winger Thomas Vanek could be close to reaching a decision on his future. Vanek is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it's believed the Islanders will shop him at the trade deadline if he's unwilling to re-sign by then.
Staple claims a source says GM Garth Snow is testing Vanek's value in the trade market. Agent Steve Bartlett, who represents Vanek, says he's had constructive dialogue with Islanders management, but they're not close to a deal yet. Bartlett also said his client would be willing to return to the Isles as a free agent this summer even if they trade him at the deadline.
The biggest issue will be salary. Vanek is coming off a $7.1 million per season deal and could land that much, if not more, as an unrestricted free agent. It remains to be seen if the Isles front office would be comfortable paying Vanek more than superstar John Tavares, who's earning $5.5 million per season through 2017-18.
ADD TIM THOMAS’ NAME TO THE AVAILABLE GOALIE LIST
The Florida Panthers' wild card hopes are fading and they could attempt to move some of their pending UFAs before the trade deadline. Among them is veteran goalie Tim Thomas, who's put up decent numbers this season, with a 14-15-3 record, a 2.75 GAA and .912 SP.
ESPN's Craig Custance reports Panthers GM Dale Tallon has no intention of moving Thomas unless the 39-year-old requests a trade. Thomas told Custance he's had some thoughts on the matter, but will wait to discuss it with management as the trade deadline approaches.
Despite his age, Thomas could attract interest from clubs looking to bolster their goaltending for the playoffs. It was only three years ago Thomas carried the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup and earning the Conn Smythe trophy for his efforts. That winning pedigree could prove attractive in this year's trade market. He would also be a much more affordable option than Buffalo's Ryan Miller.
WILL THE STARS BE BUYERS OR SELLERS AT THE DEADLINE?
The Dallas Stars could be sellers by the trade deadline if they haven't gained ground in the Western Conference standings by that point. Following their 3-2 overtime loss Thursday to the New Jersey Devils, the Stars enter this weekend six points out of a wild card berth.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News lists pending free agent forwards Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler as likely trade candidates. Others could include left winger Erik Cole along with defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Stephane Robidas, though the latter is recovering from a broken leg.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman heard from a couple of sources that Cole wants out of Dallas, but his agent strongly denied this. Moving Cole ($4.5 million per season through 2014-15) and Gonchar ($5 million per through 2014-15) will be difficult unless the Stars are willing to retain part of their salaries.
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.).
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