Major changes in New Jersey? - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Major changes in New Jersey?

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

This season's NHL Christmas trade freeze is in effect from Dec. 19 until midnight on Monday, Dec. 27, but that hasn't prevented speculation over potential moves once the freeze is lifted.

The floundering New Jersey Devils remain a fixture in the rumor mill, with ESPN's Scott Burnside suggesting GM Lou Lamoriello should consider shopping goaltender Martin Brodeur, whom Burnside considers Lamoriello's best asset if he hopes to bring in some young talent, perhaps from clubs such as Washington and Tampa Bay that need an experienced starting goalie.

It's not the first time this season Brodeur's name has been raised as a possible trade candidate by a pundit or blogger, but Lamoriello would have to want to move his long-time starter and Brodeur would either have to agree to waive his no-trade clause or request to be dealt to a contender.

Those scenarios appear unlikely, but with the Devils’ playoff hopes all but dashed for this season Brodeur's name will likely pop up more frequently as a trade candidate from now until the Feb. 28 trade deadline unless either he or Lamoriello publicly deny them.

Conflicting reports also appeared regarding the possibility of Lamoriello placing more veterans on waivers.

Last Sunday, the New York Post cited a source who claimed Lamoriello held a team meeting in which he apparently threatened those with no-trade clauses with the possibility of being placed on waivers, but Tom Gulitti of Northjersey.com spoke with several Devils who denied the story, adding Lamoriello hadn't had a meeting with his players in nearly two weeks.

LEAFS LOOKING TO SHED ASSETS FOR PICKS?

The Toronto Star's Damien Cox believes Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has “assets of value” who could be moved for a first or second round draft pick, which the Leafs lack in the 2011 draft.

Cox listed defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle plus forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur as potential trade bait and suggested Beauchemin and Grabovski would have the most value at the trade deadline. Cox also chided Burke for his stated refusal to ask Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause.

One reason for Burke's reluctance to ask Kaberle to waive his clause is he might make a serious attempt to re-sign the Czech blueliner, as he's the only experienced puck-moving defenseman on Toronto’s roster.

Beauchemin’s post-season experience would be of value to playoff contenders, though his $3.8 million annual cap hit could limit his appeal.

Cox is correct in saying none of those aforementioned Leafs will land Toronto a top five pick in the first round of next year's draft, but they certainly could land a lower first round pick or perhaps a high second-rounder.

ALL QUIET ON THE MOVEMENT FRONT

Finally, there was some surprise only one trade - the Boston Bruins’ week-long effort to ship left winger Marco Sturm to the Los Angeles Kings - took place in the 19 days leading up to the holiday trade freeze.

The reason for that is there are simply too many teams lacking sufficient cap space to make significant trades in the first half of this season.

Even teams with plenty of available cap room weren't shopping because most are under self-imposed cap ceilings that are considerably lower than the league's $59.4 million.

Most teams don’t tend to get into the buying mood until the trade deadline approaches, as salaries become more affordable to acquire, while the number of sellers increases as more teams fall out of the playoff chase.

Expect more moves to occur from mid-January up to the trade deadline, with the majority of deals occurring on deadline day, just like every season since the implementation of the salary cap.

Merry Christmas!

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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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