NHL Trade & Free Agent Rumors – December 15, 2011.

Are the Carolina Hurricanes poised to trade Eric Staal to the Maple Leafs? Could the New Jersey Devils trade Ilya Kovalchuk? Can the Philadelphia Flyers afford to re-sign Matt Carle? Read on for the latest!


Staal to Maple Leafs after holiday trade freeze?

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Joe Yerdon reports Toronto radio man Bill Watters crafted an “Eric Staal to Toronto” rumor, which Watters claimed was on hold until after GM Brian Burke’s holiday trade freeze was lifted. TSN’s Bob McKenzie, however, reported Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford dismissed the rumor, saying he had no interest in moving Staal, or goaltender Cam Ward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal has struggled this season, and Ward isn’t having a season to remember, but both remain the cornerstones of the Hurricanes franchise, so no surprise Rutherford shot this one down.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun responded to a reader’s “rant” calling for the New Jersey Devils to dump overpaid winger Ilya Kovalchuk, saying the LA Kings, who courted Kovalchuk in 2010, are grateful now they lost out in the bidding war to the Devils for the winger’s services. LeBrun suggested one way the Devils could rid themselves of Kovalchuk next summer is if the new CBA allows a one-time-only, penalty-free contract buyout period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  I’ve been saying that for some time now. The Devils are stuck with this contract unless that penalty-free buyout provision is in the next CBA.

CSNPHILLY.COM: John Boruk reports Flyers defenseman Matt Carle could command a forty percent raise over his current $3.437 million per season salary next summer as a UFA, wondering if the Flyers, who already have $59 million committed to twenty players next season, can afford to re-sign Carle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to dump over $5 million million to free up the available cap space to re-sign Carle, but Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has proven a master at retaining or adding key players while bumping up against the salary cap ceiling. If he’s determined to keep Carle, he’ll find a way to get it done, though it most certainly would mean one or two salary-dumping trades to make it happen.

TBO.COM: Erik Erlendssen reports the Lightning’s loss of Antti Miettinen to the Winnipeg Jets via waivers means GM Steve Yzerman will have to consider other options to bolster his lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication what that might be, but obviously a trade could one one of those options. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires, if not before the December 19th – 27th trade freeze, then perhaps soon after the freeze is lifted.


  1. Philly will keep Carle….he’s young and he moves the puck, not to mention, he’s Pronger’s partner on the blueline. The Flyers D isn’t getting any younger with Pronger and Timonen so they can’t afford to lose a pretty good young defensemen. They have some options, Jody Shelley could be a start, it might only be 1.1 million but it’s a start, Matt Walker (1.5-ish) is another move they can pursue. However, Jagr would have to be resigned (they’d be crazy to not try!) and Voracek also but none of the latter 2 really would get a pay raise. I’m thinking they retain all of them and do the usual bump uncomfortably against the cap ceiling.

  2. Staal To Toronto makes a lot of sence for both teams and Toronto has plenty of youth already on the team or ready to hit the NHL. Could be all or pieces including Kadri, Aulie, Colborne, this years first rounder, and/or a possible defenseman such as Franson or Komiserik ready to return soon. The big issue will be trading cap space which could mean dumping Komi on Carolina which means having to sweeten the pot even further. There are way to many possibilities to this trade but you know Rutherford will want plenty of youth with Burke dieing to have a big center Staal to play with Kessel and Lupul.

  3. The only thing wrong with Eric Staal are the lack of quality wingers.

    He’s not being traded, but if he is, no doot aboot it, Kadri, Franson, and a third rounder will get it done. Right TO fans?

  4. “Dabroons”, you sir, are a moron and an embarrassment to real Bruins fans.

  5. Staal at $8.25M/ year, Burkie be careful what you wish for. Any deal would almost have to include Komisarek and Lombardi (plus all that youth mentioned by DLS) other wise the Leafs can’t afford the cap hit.

  6. On second thought I can’t see the Leafs keeping Connelly (NTC), Grabovski, and Bozak if Staal was coming in and unfortunately Bozak only makes $1.5M so looks like the odd man out could be Grabo at $2.9M since Connelly has a NTC. So Grabo takes up $2.9M of Staal’s $8.25M which leaves Komi’s $4.5M salary as the most likely to be dealt problem is Komisarek has a NTC and I still think Burke will keep 7 D men especially if Aulie is part of the youth package so we are back to dealing Lombardi’s $3.5M.

    Grabovski $2.9M UFA (Salary dump)
    Lombardi $3.5M (Salary dump)
    A package of youth including possibly (Aulie and/or Colborne, or Kadri)??
    A possible Draft pick depending on the youth package

  7. Thanks, BruinsMike.

    In regards to any Staal trade rumours… I believe it is highly unlikely that the Canes would trade their franchise player (and one of the top centres in the Eastern Conference). If they were to put him up for auction, there is no doubt the leafs would be in on the bidding. However, it will take more than some prospects/picks/depth defenceman to get it done. I believe that conversation starts with Kulemin + Schenn and goes from there. Keep in mind a lot of other teams will want to aqcuire him too.

    In regards to Kovalchuk, the real killer is the length of the deal. His yearly cap hit is quite reasonable for a player of his stature and ability. he still remains one of the most dangerous players in the game. Sure, his production is down this season, but he has a rookie centreman and plays in a defensive system… who was the last NJD to score 90 pts? You would have to go a decade back to find one. i also cannot imagine he will be bought out… NJ is not goin gto give him a $30M cheque to then let him walk, or have to resign him.

  8. If the Leafs do in fact go after Staal, then there is no chance Parise will become a Leaf. Kadri’s time as a Leaf is quickly coming to an end. The question is who do we get in return?

  9. @NikK
    Schenn has a NTC and won’t waive it to go to Carolina and Kulemin only makes $2.35M which leaves him a possibility but means a major salary dump from somewhere else.

  10. Stall to the Leafs .. LMFAO yeah right after Prasie signs … crazy Leaf writter …

  11. If Devils buyout Kovalchuk penalty free, his $$ wont count against the cap I assume. But they would still have to pay him….and the Devils aren’t exactly printing money. I think they are screwed either way.

  12. there are too many things wrong to expect Watters rumour to be true.
    first and foremost i cannot see him being the only guy that would know this,the tsn guys would be all over it,no way that could be kept quiet.
    second,if somehow billy boy did get good info he would have said who was involved,if he knew the trade was done he would have a huge scoop with telling everyone the deal.
    third,there would have to be some players on the roster going and what if one gets hurt,or staal gets hurt over the next 2 weeks?
    last,no matter how you try to dance around it adding 8 million looks impossible let alone the fact it might take up to 5 players to make the salary work and leaving no depth plus burning a young guy or two.
    sorry fellow leaf fans,nothing seems to add up here to make it anything except a sound byte.

  13. Least he can spell Staal… Even though it wont happen Staal would be one of the best fitting players for our number 1 centre woes… He would be that big bodied but still skilled player we havent had since sundin.

  14. I don’t think Staal would even want to go to Toronto. Not going to happen unless the Hurricanes face major financial struggles.

  15. As for the Devils. Why trade Ilya? He has been much better as of late. He and Henrique play well.

  16. @Topright

    I was thinking the same thing about Watters. I don’t think Pat Quinn kept him in the loop on possible trades even when he worked as the assistant GM for the Leafs let alone now. lol

    I can see Carolina trading Staal to continue the youth movement rebuild. The Canes will take another 4 to 5 years to rebuild and become a possible contender and by that time Staal could be past his prime at 32. Most of these forwards are coming into the league so young that they seem to have their best years before they turn 30. Don’t get me wrong they can all pick it up a notch if they are pushed at 32 or 33yrs old but some guys like a LaCavalier just never return to the glory days. I would think Rutherford would like to lock in some profits now and get a crap load of up and coming youth to grow with Skinner. WTF do I know though?

  17. I think Dabroons comment was done tounge in cheek, no need to blast him. But it’s not my fight so I’ll stay out.
    Buying out Kovy’s contract wouldn’t make any sense. He’s still owed what? 100 mil? You think Devils management will want to cut that cheque??? Pft. Don’t think so.

    God Dammit Watters! Why does he make our fanbase look so stupid? I’m tired of these hack reporters with ZERO sources, making up extremely stupid trade scenarios in which every f*%#ing superstar is coming here. We gobble it up and fantasize as fans, similar to how we wonder what to do with all the millions we win after purchasing a lottery ticket. Yes Staal to the Leafs makes sense for us, but it makes no sense for the Canes. For the guys who will post below me, please think carefully before you write. Haters (as always) are waiting for a chance to rip you, and all of us a new one.

    Burke should stay the course. We finally have built a team that is competing every night (except against Boston) so let’s just ride this out. I’m pretty confident we will make the playoffs this year as is, so let’s not mess with chemistry.

  18. Carolina will not take on any more Maple Leafs. They already have too many Leaf cast-offs and look where it’s landed them. If a guy is not good enought to make Toronto a better team this year he is certainly not going to make Carolina better. Staal and Ward stay, they hope the youngish D develops and they add a few decent wings next year with the savings from dumping Kaberle and eventually Ruutu and Spatcek.

  19. Hey Durt, no hate coming from this direction. I’m 100% with you. For 1, Dabroons’ post is definitely done tongue-in-cheek, and I actually agree with him – part of Staal’s struggles in Carolina this year are with having few top-tier wingers to play with (though, in my opinion, a superstar should be able to elevate his teammates to top-tier status).

    And I definitely agree that the Staal trade makes total sense for the Buds (of whom I’m not a fan, for reference) but little sense for the Canes. Trading Staal may happen, but they’re not taking anyone’s salary dump to do it. Other teams would offer a package where the salaries matched and the players were of good value. As a Habs fan, I could also say “Staal for Gomez and a bunch of picks” balances out, but I think we all know that deal isn’t going through, either!


    I would consider trading Ward, however, if I got a promising young goalie in return as part of a package. Ward has led his team to the playoffs exactly once in the last five years – probably six including this season – and his career numbers of 2.78GAA and .909% aren’t exactly world-beaters. Yes, I’m aware he won the Cup six years ago, but that’s why I think you’d get good value for him. And no, I don’t believe it’s from playing on a bad team – he was on the same team that won the Cup in ’06 and he followed that up with a season of .897%. Trade him before people forget about his Cup win!

    (I know I’ll get flamed here as everyone & their dog think Ward is an all-star, but neither his career record or numbers prove that to me. If it’s only about winning the Cup, JS Giguere is *also* still one of the best goalies in the NHL)

  20. If Staal is traded, it is because IMO he is no longer the franchise player everyone says he is.

    He is paid like one, and so is Ward, but Skinner is the guy they will build their team around going forward. In order to add $ with other talented players to compliment Skinner, in all positions, one of the big tickets will have to go, and its not going to be Ward, who is pretty good considering the Defense in front of him. 8 miliion a year can add three really good players, or 4 to 5 decent players to help Skinner and Ward going forward.Carolina would get a lot in return, from whoever they trade with.

    As for Rutherford dismissing the rumour, well does anyone think he would confirm it?
    They never do, or even drop a name, unless they are looking to dump a player like Kaberle and give a “heads up” to teams who otherwise would not kick the tires on him.

  21. Personally, instead of staal, I would take a shot at ward.
    He reminds me of cujo………Only with a cup.
    Kadri gustavson Holzer komisarek 1st rounder for cam.
    (yah cause I already know I will get ripped from both sides on this)
    I don’t think Burke traded for Lombardi and franson to move them just a few months later, so the leafs would have to put up alot of plugs for the hurricanes, with no skinner and pitkanen.
    Kadri is not as good as skinner( that’s for damn sure!!!)but could serve as a fill in for now.
    Komisarek and Holzer could pair up right away and give the canes two thumpers.
    Goose would guard the onion bag until a new successor is appointed. The 1st rounder could help there.
    Or maybe that’s what staal is for……..

  22. Well said Durt and thank you. I must admit that most of these one sided trade suggestions are truly entertaining to this non-Leaf fan. Every day there’s a new one…

  23. Good stuff Durt.
    On a side note, anyone else rubbed the wrong way by nicknaming a bad goalie “the Monster”? You know? I would want to reserve that name for an actual puck-devouring freak like Thomas.

  24. Carolina trades Staal and Ward to Flotida for Huberdeau and Markstrom.
    Carolina trades Staal and Ward to Edmonton for Devan Omark and Gagner

  25. hey durt,
    watters source is very reliable.
    his neighbours cousin’s baby sitter sisters boyfriend works at the hot dog stand at the air canada centre.
    inside info at its best.

  26. Yeah trade Eric Staal to the Leafs for Toronto’s second line, cuz that’s Carolina’s need.

    I suppose to Leafs fans, he could be gotten with Nazem Kadri and a second around pick.

    Anyway… I don’t think Jersey’s going to buyout Kovy. I expected that Lou predicted a paycut would be in order so yeah, it “looks” like 100M over 13 years, but next two years, he’s being paid 11M and because of a new CBA where players get less of a chunk and will take probably a 10% paycut in the negotiations, he’ll end up making maybe just over 10. So he’ll still be affordable, especially with what they get from him. Yeah he only scored 30 or something last year, but 9 were GWG and half the season under Lemaire’s system.

    Plus he and Parise are starting to pick it up while playing with Henrique; I knew that Henrique was gonna be good! I hope they don’t tear them apart for Zajac’s sake… they have a good thing going.

  27. Durt you are probably right but don’t ever discount the possibility of the Canes moving Staal for the right package. Everyone is available for the right price. The last thing Rutherford wants is a Tampa Bay senerio with LaCavalier being paid $7.7M on track for 55pts and Stamkos getting $7.5M once again tearing it up. Those two guys take up 25% of their salary cap. Of course Stamkos is worth ever penny but LaCavalier is now un-movable. Rutherford doesn’t want the same thing with Staal and Skinner 2 years from now. He has no reason to move him this year but if his numbers continue to decline from his current pace of 50pts and his current minus 18 it becomes harder and harder to move him with that $8.25M salary until he eventually become un-movable.
    Sometimes you have to strike while the iron is hot… Just say’in

  28. I doubt Staal is coming to the Leafs. I think its more Bill Watters stirring the gossip pot at the expense of Leaf players and fans alike. At least TSN did the right thing and verified its validity as most GM’s will deny the falsehood and offer a “No Comment” on the truth so in all likelihood, it’s just water cooler fodder.

  29. Bruins will sign Parise when he is a UFA this summer. Remember Savards money will be off the books and they have plenty of room. I thought they were in need of a D-man first but Dougie should be ready next yr. or one after.

  30. I saw an Eklund post about Staal maybe being traded and it made me slap my head and say “How long before he is rumored to the Leafs?” Yes of course he would be solid with us. Lupul – Staal – Kessel makes me excited at the prospect but I doubt it would ever happen. I also think that when fantasizing our rumors out we aren’t thinking clearly. For a star like Staal no team wants just picks and prospects, but at his cap they also have to take salary off our hands. So you have to ask what does the other team need back?

    It doesn’t matter as I doubt it would happen and if Staal was shopped it would be public and open to a bidding war for his services. A deal like Grabo, Kulemin, Kadri, 1st can be beat by other teams! I don’t think Kovalchuk is going anywhere either. I think the Devils need to get an offensive minded coach, they are a much more offensive team then they have ever been before and they need to start realizing that.

    Henrique, Kovalchuk, Parise, Zajac … they have some nice offensive pieces that need to be let loose a little bit. I think if the Devils changed to their top line playing balls to the wall offense and their depth keeping the defense system then they could get better results. Offense-Trap-Trap-Grind? that is how I see this team running and being successful!

  31. Obe1 — Wasn’t Savard’s cap hit about 4M per season? NO WAY — they get Parise at that cap hit.

    I don’t think he leaves NJ — but if he does, I believe… it will be to a team that is a definite contender… BUT that contending team would have to have the cap space to sign him.

    We don’t know what the new CBA will look like in regards to salary cap or if there is a limit put on contract length going forward. That will hurt a lot of teams IF they have players they need to sign — no more front-end loaded contracts with insane contract length to lower the cap hit — that loophole will be closed.

    So teams with a lot of cap space may be the ones that luck out on some trades.. from teams desperate to get under the cap. That or a lot of contracts get buried in the minors. If I’m the NHLPA — I don’t think I would like it that the players are forced to the minors just because a team made a mistake (a la Redden and Finger)… they may try to stop that procedure in order to protect their members. Should be a very interesting negotiation indeed. BUT I’m sure we all agree… we don’t want another strike/lockout.

  32. If you look at the team valuations on Forbes (link below), you’ll see that the Devils are hurting. Even if they could get a cap hit exemption for Kovalchuck, the cash outlay would be a killer. Forbes is reporting that the Devils are nearing bankruptcy.


    I’m not that convinced that Kovalchuk is that overpaid. According to Capgeek, his cap hit is $6.6M. That’s a little high for his production, but this is a guy who scored well over a point per game in several seasons.

    If New Jersey did decide that they wanted to get rid of Kovalchuk, it would likely be for financial reasons. And if they made that decision I think Toronto or the Rangers could come into play. Toronto could afford to take on Kovalchuk’s salary and then buy him out provided that they get out of the cap hit.

    The only problem with that is that New Jersey may have to send picks, prospects, and players along with Kovalchuk to get them to go for it. Essentially, New Jersey would be paying them to take Kovalchuk off their hands. I’m not sure I see that happening.

    The other option is that New Jersey could waive him and see if anybody picks him up. If he was then passed through re-entry waivers and claimed they’d shed half of his salary. Then a no cap-hit buy out might be more to the liking of both teams.

  33. As a leaf fan getting Staal would be intriquing but as a realist I dont believe it will happen. First, Im not so sure the leafs especially Kessel would welcome him with open arms especially since Staals attitude towards Toronto at last years all-star game. Second, Im not so sure Burke would tear apart his team and lose prospects and picks for a guy who just might be on the downturn of his career. Third, Im not so sure Rutherford would take a guy like Komisarek. He has actually played much better lately but it would be chancey, they also just got Spacek a very similar player. There are other points to be made but you get the point.
    If Staal is available, Toronto wouldnt be the only team in on the sweepstakes. Several teams would present offers and some of them have the ability to outbid the leafs. Whatever the price IMO it would be an overpayment. Burke may be willing to part with Grabovski, Gunnarsson, Orr, Lombardi, and a couple others but to give up several young prospects and a first(heaven forbid) just wouldnt make sense after he has built it all up. He just might have to wait for July 1st for that centreman if one is available.

  34. DLS, that’s what I was hoping for. Your post is logical, I can’t hate on anything you said. My fear was that this would be a thread gone bad by some moron saying Kadri and a salary dump for Staal. Sometimes I just get tired of hearing from the haters. I agree that the time may come for Staal to be moved but I doubt now. And even if he was to be moved, I’m sure 28 other teams might make a good case for his services. I like daydreaming too, but we Leaf fans have to watch what we say so we don’t get grouped into the idiot pile. I like your posts though, keep it up my dude!

    Obe1, are you kidding? Omark and Gagne for both? Huberdeau and Markstrom? So I guess IF a Leaf fan said Kadri and Gus for both you wouldn’t rip them a new one right? Both of those packages wouldn’t land you one of Staal or Ward.

  35. I have mixed feelings about a “penalty free” buyout period in the next CBA. I think that if GMs are foolish enough to offer outrageous contracts to players, why should they be allowed to dump the contract without it counting against the cap when the player underperforms? The cap forces teams to spend their money wisely for both short and long term benefit and an unwise GM should have to live with the consequences.

  36. Good point, the CBA starts this summer and Burke has already stated he is opposed to taking on anymore large long term salaries because of those negotiations. Leaf fans don’t hold your breath on any new power centers with 5 years remaining at $8M being brought in before the new CBA. Totally forgot about the CBA this summer thanks for the reminder…

  37. I dont think Carolina will trade Staal to Toronto because Toronto has salary problems and Carolina needs a player like Eric Staal so they can try and make the playoffs.

  38. If I was Carolina I would move him for a nice package of picks and prospects.
    Not too many teams can take on that 8.5 mil.
    As far as obe1 I can see Boston signing Parise.We have about 2.3 mil in space now and with Savards money that makes about 6.3mil in space.Also a player will be moved to make room for him thats another 3-5mil.Also some free agents will leave making more cap space.Pouliot 1.1 mil rfa
    Left wings Parise,Lucic,Marchand,Paille not bad.
    Not sure what Parise is looking for though. I wouldn’t go over 7mil.

  39. @ ventinari

    Good points and I’m with you to a certain extent. The only place I disagree is that a GM’s bad contract can extend well beyond his tenure. I think there is a point where you sort of say, “you’ve suffered enough.” From the league’s perspective, we don’t want teams to be perpetually bad for a decade because they’re straddled with one or more bad contracts.

  40. Sandy and Dave I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins move Thomas after this yr. If they win again and he is the star that wont happen. If Rask steals the show then Tim is gone he is getting old and that free”s up 5 more mil. Parise want to win Boston is his best bet. personally I’d rather try for a stud D-man like Weber.