The NHL Olympic roster freeze lifts at midnight tonight. Check out the latest rumors making the rounds on the final day of the Sochi Olympics.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance, responding to readers’ e-mail, believes if the St. Louis Blues make a significant move by the March 5 trade deadline moving winger Chris Stewart and his $4.15 million cap hit makes sense. If Stewart isn’t moved by the deadline he could be moved in the off-season…He believes it’s in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ best interest to move Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline…After speaking with Ryan O’Reilly, Custance believes the Colorado Avalanche intend to retain him…The NY Islanders will be busy trying to get top value for Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald…He feels Oilers center Sam Gagner is all but assured to be moved…Custance considers the ideal situation for the Carolina Hurricanes to address their logjam in goal is trading Cam Ward, but notes his big salary and injury history makes him tough to move…He also wondered if the Vancouver Canucks might try to move defenseman Alexander Edler for a young center, though he acknowledged Edler has a no-trade clause.
ESPN.COM: Tim Kavanagh recently listed NY Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd, Carolina Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu, Washington Capitals forward Troy Brouwer and Dallas Stars winger Erik Cole as the top five grinder/grit forwards rumored on the trade block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stewart’s name popped up quite a bit in the rumor mill heading into the Olympics. The problem is finding a club with cap space willing to take on that salary. It will probably have to be almost a dollar-for-dollar deal as the Blues are supposedly “buyers”…The Jackets could retain Gaborik to bolster their playoff hopes, but if the right offer was made they’ll likely listen…The Avalanche hope to re-sign O’Reilly, who’s a restricted free agent this summer. He won’t be traded…Vanek and MacDonald are among the most likely to be dealt by March 5, it just remains to be seen what the Isles can get for a return…Gagner’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past three years. Remains to be seen if he’s actually moved…I don’t expect Ward to be trade at the deadline. If it’s to happen it’ll be in the 0ff-season, provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. Ditto for Edler…As for the grinders it’ll depend upon where their teams are in the standings by March 5. I still think the Rangers will hang onto Callahan for the playoffs. I don’t believe the Jets intend to move Ladd. Ruutu’s contract (over $4 million per season) won’t be easy to move. I think the Capitals intend to keep Brouwer. Cole still has a year (at $4.5 million) with a no-trade clause.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa believes Buffalo Sabres winger (and former LA King) Matt Moulson would be a good fit with the Kings. The Sabres could seek at least a first round pick for Moulson…If Jaroslav Halak fails to improve following his poor showing at the Sochi Olympics, Blues management must seek an upgrade. Shinzawa notes Buffalo’s Ryan Miller is the top goalie available in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings certainly need something to bolster their scoring punch, but is it worth giving up a first round pick for a potential UFA? Given the Kings’ rumored pursuit of Sam Gagner, they appear more interested in a player with term remaining on his contract. The problem is their limited cap space. They’ll have to move salary to make a deal work…It’ll be interesting to see what moves, if any, the Blues make by the deadline.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo wonders if Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher pursues a goaltender near the trade deadline. Josh Harding remains sidelined indefinitely, Niklas Backstrom is a shadow of himself and Darcy Kuemper has played well but is still inexperienced at the NHL level. Pursuing Buffalo’s Ryan Miller only makes sense if the Wild intend to re-sign him. Russo suggests Fletcher look into the availability of New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who’d be a more affordable acquisition than Miller.
NJ.COM: Rich Chere wonders if Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is willing to trade Martin Brodeur and captain Bryce Salvador.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding Brodeur, he appears to be awaiting Lamoriello to approach him about a trade. If he feels his Devils still have a chance to make the playoffs, Lamoriello could retain Brodeur as insurance down the stretch.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari looks at possible playoff rental targets for the Penguins. He lists the Islanders Andrew MacDonald, Sabres left wingers Steve Ott and Matt Moulson, along with defenseman Henrik Tallinder, Panthers’ right wing Brad Boyes and center Marcel Goc, Flames right wing Lee Stempniak and Oilers winger Ales Hemsky among the options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap hit and the health of his roster will determine possible moves by Penguins GM Ray Shero. He’s believed in the market for a left wing to replace Pascal Dupuis. He could need a defenseman if Kris Letang and Paul Martin are sidelined indefinitely but he does have depth in young defensemen.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Chuck Gormley reports Capitals GM George McPhee wouldn’t rule out adding a defenseman if the right deal came along but insists he likes his current blueline corps.