Comments made by Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray prior to his club's 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks has the NHL world anticipating he'll make some major roster moves soon.
An obviously frustrated Murray said he's not ready to concede the season despite the Ducks’ low position in the Western Conference standings, but called his team's performance “frustrating” and “unexplainable.”
Murray claimed right winger Teemu Selanne and center Saku Koivu were “unavailable” because of their no-movement clauses. He added a trade would be Selanne's call if the winger decides he wants to go to a Cup contender, reiterating his intent is for Selanne to retire a Duck.
The pair are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and it's expected Selanne will retire at season's end.
Murray had harsh words, however, for the rest of his lineup, especially the big-name players in their prime. “I still believe we have some core players,” Murray said. “Now, whether we have to change a few core players, so be it. They're deciding who's staying and who's not staying at this point.”
That's been interpreted to mean center and team captain Ryan Getzlaf, right winger Corey Perry, left winger Bobby Ryan and defenseman Cam Fowler could be available.
If he were to make a trade, Murray said his intention wasn't to pursue draft picks and go into a rebuild, but to look ahead to next season.
It didn't take long for his comments to create considerable buzz.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal wondered what it would take for the Oilers to pry Getzlaf and Fowler out of Anaheim, while Damien Cox of the Toronto Star suggested former Ducks GM Brian Burke would be very interested in Getzlaf if he became available.
Prior to Murray's comments, Orange County Register reporter Jeff Miller suggested it was time for the Ducks to trade Getzlaf for “an equally weighty piece,” believing such a move would be in the best interests of the player and the team.
While Murray’s frustration is certainly understandable, it's hard to believe he'd make a panic move like shipping out Getzlaf simply because of one poor season. Dealing Perry, last season's winner of the Hart and Rocket Richard Trophies would be a PR disaster.
Fowler is struggling in his sophomore year, but it would be foolish to deal such a promising young defenseman after only a season and a half.
That leaves Ryan as the most likely trade candidate. He was mentioned in trade rumors more than a month ago, but Murray preferred to make a coaching change instead with the hopes it would right the ship.
Unless any of those players want out, it would be wiser for Murray to retain them as the foundation upon which to reload for next season.
If Murray does intend to shop one or more of those core players, his desire to receive comparable value in return will make it very difficult to get a deal done, especially at this time of year. Such moves tend to occur in the off-season, when teams have more cap space and are more open to overhauls.
That doesn't mean he won't make any moves before the trade deadline. If Selanne requests a trade to a Cup contender, Murray will accommodate him. Same goes for Koivu.
Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky's name popped up earlier this week in the rumor mill. He and blueliner Francois Beauchemin also have no-movement clauses, yet Murray didn't put them in the same category as Selanne and Koivu.
Goaltender Jonas Hiller has been a disappointment this season, but would be of interest for teams looking to improve their goaltending.
NASH OPEN TO WAIVING NO-MOVEMENT CLAUSE
Nearly overshadowed by Murray's comments was Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash’s remarks regarding the possibility of waiving his no-movement clause.
Asked if, hypothetically, he'd be willing to waive his clause if management wanted to move him as part of a rebuild, Nash said he wouldn't do something that would hurt the franchise just because he has that in his contract.
That doesn't mean Nash is angling for a trade, or wants out of Columbus. Despite years of frustration with the Blue Jackets, he claims he still loves living and playing in the city and still has faith in the organization.
Earlier this season, Nash's agent denied his client wanted to be dealt, while GM Scott Howson maintained he wasn't shopping the winger. Both repeated those comments Thursday to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
Still, we can expect Nash's comments to serve as fodder for rumor mongers to crank out more trade buzz about the Blue Jackets captain between now and the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
YZERMAN LOOKING TO TRADE OR JUST SCOUTING?
Do the Tampa Bay Lightning have interest in a Minnesota Wild goaltender?
Michael Russo of Startribune.com reported Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was watching Wednesday's Canucks-Wild game from the press box. Russo noted Wild backup Josh Harding, who started that game, is an unrestricted free agent this summer and could be on the trade block before the deadline.
Russo also pointed out the Lightning need defensemen, of which the Wild currently carry eight.
It's also possible Yzerman was simply scouting the Canucks, as his Lightning face them at home Jan. 10.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 Kukla's Korner.