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.