A lack of salary cap space could prove a significant hindrance to New York Rangers GM Glen Sather’s efforts to bolster his roster at the March 3 trade deadline.
The New York Post suggested the fact the Rangers are on the list of preferred destinations for Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray might tempt Sather to try and land the hard-shooting blueliner – but only if he can move either Michal Rozsival’s $5-million per season cap hit or Wade Redden’s $6.5-million per.
Sather has shown an ability to dump a seemingly immovable contract before, shipping Scott Gomez’s $7.36-million per season contract to the Montreal Canadiens last summer.
The difference, however, was that Gomez – despite his hefty contract – still had some value in the trade market. Plus, it’s easier to move expensive contracts in the off-season when teams have more cap space than it is late in the season when they have less to work with.
Rozsival and Redden have almost no trade value, so moving their contracts is almost impossible unless Sather is willing to package one of them with a more tempting option (such as, perhaps, center Brandon Dubinsky), but that would do more harm than good to the Blueshirts roster.
Demoting players seems the only realistic option to free up cap space, but, as the Post indicated, Sather thus far has shown no interest in going that route. If that’s the case, he can forget about landing a big fish like Souray by the deadline.
• Those covering the New Jersey Devils agree GM Lou Lamoriello might not be done making additions to his roster before March 3, but there’s disagreement over what could happen.
Rich Chere of the Newark-based Star-Ledger believes depth for the defense is the priority and suggests Lamoriello could pursue an experienced veteran like former Devil Scott Niedermayer.
However, Mark Everson of the New York Post cited sources claiming Lamoriello expressed interest in centers Matt Cullen and Matt Stajan before they were dealt to Ottawa and Calgary respectively and could shift his focus to Toronto’s Alexei Ponikarovsky, a left winger who he suggests can also play center.
It remains to be seen what moves, if any, Lamoriello makes by March 3, but his recent acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk demonstrates one shouldn’t underestimate the savvy Devils GM.
• Edmonton Oilers captain Ethan Moreau and Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Raffi Torres are accepting the fact they could be playing for different teams by March 3.
Moreau claimed he wasn’t feeling any anxiety about the possibility of being traded, saying he’ll still play his best if he returns as an Oiler following the Olympic break, but realizes the possibility he could be moving on.
Torres, an unrestricted free agent July 1, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of negotiating with the Jackets even if he’s traded by the deadline.
• Media consensus in recent weeks has Carolina Hurricanes left winger Ray Whitney a good fit on a scoring line with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that might not be the direction the Pens take at the trade deadline.
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes the Penguins would be better served pursuing a physical defenseman, claiming they miss the contributions of last summer’s salary cap casualties Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi.
Such a move certainly won’t cost as much as pursuing Whitney, perhaps only a third round pick, although with less than $1 million in available cap space this season it would have to be a small contract coming in.
Unless GM Ray Shero is able to free up salary elsewhere they can forget about possibilities like Carolina’s Aaron Ward or Edmonton’s Steve Staios. Milan Jurcina from Columbus might be a better option.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.