Adding promising young talent to the roster such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi hasn’t helped the Edmonton Oilers to any substantial improvement this season, but those players are not at fault for another subpar showing from the club.
The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox recently observed the Oilers’ veteran core – specifically, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and Tom Gilbert – are all playing poorly.
However, Cox felt shopping those four would prove difficult as they’re all earning at least $4 million per season, but that hasn’t stopped speculation from centering on Penner.
Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News noted Penner, who “justified his $4.25 million annual salary last year with 32 goals and 63 points” has returned to his passionless ways, which may push the Oilers to peddle him by the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal suggested Penner would be a decent trade target for the Los Angeles Kings in that team’s quest to add a scoring winger, though he’ll have to start putting up better numbers between now and the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
Despite his inconsistency, Penner’s scoring potential will prove attractive to playoff-bound teams seeking offensive depth by the trade deadline, especially since after this year he only has one season remaining on his current contract. With the right club and proper motivation he’d be a good fit.
OVECHKIN WANTS SEMIN TO RETURN TO CAPITALS
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin would love to see friend and countryman Alex Semin re-signed to a contract extension, but told Craig Custance of The Sporting News he’s not going to make demands to management on Semin’s behalf.
Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, noted any support from Ovechkin would carry significant weight in his client’s contract talks, but Capitals GM George McPhee doesn’t need to be reminded of Semin’s importance to the team.
Custance noted Semin lacks a no-movement/trade clause, which makes it possible for the Capitals to move him later this season if contract talks reach an impasse. Given how much money Washington has already tied up in top forwards such as Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, we’ll soon see how willing the Capitals are to invest more cap space in another high-priced forward.
Gandler told Custance that Semin’s priority is to re-sign with the Capitals. If not possible, though, McPhee likely wouldn’t trade him during the season, preferring instead to retain Semin’s offensive touch for the playoffs.
IGINLA TRADE RUMORS QUASHED
The Calgary Flames moved swiftly to crush recent rumors that claimed the team was working on trading captain Jarome Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings.
Reports in the Calgary media during the weekend claimed a team official met with Iginla last week to inform him management won’t ask him to waive his no-movement clause.
Some people will undoubtedly try to keep Iginla’s name in the rumor mill this season, drawing comparisons to GM Darryl Sutter’s claim last season he wouldn’t trade defenseman Dion Phaneuf, only to turn around and move him to Toronto weeks later.
But, there is a difference this time around: Phaneuf wasn’t the face of the franchise as Iginla is and further rumors indicate team ownership wants to keep the captain in the fold.
DEVILS COACH SAFE, BUT STILL STRUGGLING TO MAKE A TRADE
The New Jersey Devils’ continuing woes had more than a few observers wondering if GM Lou Lamoriello is close to making a trade.
Lamoriello recently said he’d evaluate his roster at the 20-game mark, which led to increased trade speculation.
Coach John MacLean was apparently absolved by Lamoriello, who told the New York Post his coach isn’t the problem.
Lamoriello was reportedly looking for deals earlier in the season, but trades will remain tough to make at this juncture.
With notable players such as Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner out with injuries there’s not much Lamoriello can do in the trade market, even if the salary cap wasn’t handcuffing him.
As for MacLean, he said he wasn’t anticipating any trades, but quickly pointed out he doesn’t make those decisions.
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.