East trade-rumor subjects
With NHL training camps soon opening and the start of the 2007-08 season mere weeks away, here's a look at the players from each team whose names could appear in this season's trade-rumor mill.
We'll first look at the Eastern Conference teams and follow up on Wednesday with the Western Conference teams.
Atlanta Thrashers: Marian Hossa. GM Don Waddell hopes to re-sign Hossa, who's become an elite player since the club acquired him two years ago from the Ottawa Senators. He's eligible for UFA status next summer, and the longer Hossa goes unsigned by the February trade deadline the more he'll be mentioned as possible trade bait.
Boston Bruins: P.J. Axelsson. It's believed the Bruins tried to shop him to the Minnesota Wild as part of the deal for goaltender Manny Fernandez. Glen Murray's name is oft-mentioned as trade bait but his age, declining production and expensive contract makes him a tougher sell than Axelsson, a reliable two-way forward whose $1.85 million per season salary would be easier to move should the Bruins need to free up some cap space.
Buffalo Sabres: Jaroslav Spacek. His 2006-07 regular season numbers (6 goals, 21 points) were down significantly from the 43 points he had the previous season split between Chicago and Edmonton, and he generated no points in this year's playoffs. If his offensive numbers fail to improve the Sabres might consider shopping him.
Carolina Hurricanes: Erik Cole. GM Jim Rutherford denied a report during the draft weekend that had Cole as part of a potential three-way trade between the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Rutherford claims Cole isn't available but that's not likely to keep the right winger's name out of the rumor mill, especially if the Hurricanes struggle as they did last season.
Florida Panthers: Olli Jokinen. For some reason Jokinen's name keeps popping up in trade speculation despite his stated happiness playing for the Panthers and their obvious desire to retain him. The underrated Jokinen is the Panthers' franchise player and a quiet leader who prefers to let his play do the talking. The Panthers won't move him, but that's not likely to silence the rumormongers.
Montreal Canadiens: Michael Ryder. Coming off consecutive 30-goal seasons, Ryder and the Habs avoided arbitration this summer when he agreed to a one-year contract for this season. He's eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it's believed he could be shopped by the trade deadline if the Canadiens are out of the playoff race by that point.
New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias. His name appeared early this summer in cyberspace trade chatter, but considering Elias last summer signed a lengthy and expensive contract with the Devils, he's probably not going anywhere. Still, if the Devils struggle this season, don't be surprised if his name crops up again in Internet trade speculation.
New York Islanders: Trent Hunter. He was awarded a one-year contract via arbitration this summer and is eligible for UFA status in July. Players who go through arbitration usually end up testing the free-agent market and Hunter, a two time 20-goal scorer, could do the same, especially if he should have a career season. That could provide incentive for the Isles to shop him later this season.
New York Rangers: Sean Avery. He was reportedly very upset during his arbitration hearing over the Rangers evaluation of his performance last season, which doesn't bode well for the temperamental Avery remaining a Blueshirt when next summer's UFA market opens. If the Rangers should struggle this season Avery might become trade bait.
Ottawa Senators: Wade Redden. The Senators tried to trade him during the draft weekend but Redden exercised his no-trade clause to prevent it. He's since spoken like a player who has no intention of letting the Senators move him, but that's not likely to keep his name out of the trade rumors this upcoming season.
Philadelphia Flyers: Denis Gauthier and R.J. Umberger. Their names were mentioned as potential trade bait amid rampant speculation the Flyers might try to bring back Peter Forsberg later this season. Even if Forsberg doesn't return to Philadelphia, expect Gauthier and Umberger to be frequently mentioned this season in any Flyers trade rumors.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Ryan Malone. He's been a fixture in the rumor mill for the past two seasons, but GM Ray Shero stuck by Malone last season in hopes he'd regain his scoring touch. Injuries hampered Malone's production last year and if he stays healthy could be on pace for his best season to date. If he struggles, however, he'll be considered a potential trade candidate.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Marc Denis. Forget the ridiculous trade rumors involving Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards. The guy to watch this season in Tampa Bay is Denis, who was acquired from Columbus last season to be the Lightning's starting goaltender but struggled throughout and lost his job to backup Johan Holmqvist. GM Jay Feaster recently said Denis would either play himself this season into the starter's role, into the minors or into a trade.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mats Sundin. His name appeared in trade rumors midway through last season when it became apparent the Leafs might not make the playoffs. Sundin claims he wants to finish his career in Toronto but the local media seems to feel he would welcome a trade to a Cup contender should the Leafs fall out of the playoff race by February. The fact he's on a one-year contract this season should keep Sundin's name in the rumor mill.
Washington Capitals: Olaf Kolzig. It seems unthinkable that this long-time Capitals netminder might be dealt, but he's in the final year of his current contract and that's likely to lead to trade speculation, particularly if the Caps aren't in playoff contention by mid-season. For playoff-bound teams seeking an experienced goaltender, Kolzig could look pretty good by the February trade deadline.