Value of Oil

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Reports surfaced from Buffalo and Edmonton recently regarding the possibility of the Oilers shipping blueliner Tom Gilbert to the Sabres for right winger Drew Stafford.

Salaries, however, are a significant stumbling block for that scenario.

Gilbert’s cap hit is $4 million per season, while Stafford’s is $1.9 million. A swap would push the Sabres over the cap ceiling for this season, so the trade couldn’t take place unless Buffalo cleared cap space to absorb Gilbert’s salary.

The Sabres, as a rule, don’t take on expensive salaries via trades, which should tell you all you need to know about the validity of this rumor.

• The Montreal Canadiens were rumored to be shopping around for an offensive defenseman despite their recent signing of unrestricted free agent blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Seems doubtful Canadiens GM Bob Gainey would keep searching for a puck-moving D-man when he’s signed one in Bergeron, who had 14 goals and 32 points with the offensively anemic Minnesota Wild last season.

Perhaps Gainey is keeping the lines of communication open in case Bergeron fails to pan out, but at this point don’t expect the Habs GM to make any trades for defensemen until he’s had at least a month to assess not only Bergeron’s performance, but also of the rest of his defense corps.

• Injuries to forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Petr Sykora and Cal Clutterbuck have led to talk of the Minnesota Wild getting active in the trade market.

The Star-Tribune.com reported Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has received a few calls from his peers willing to talk trade, but he realizes they’re trying to exploit the situation.

Fletcher doesn’t have many assets he’s willing to move and would be smart not to sacrifice his future by peddling draft picks for a quick fix now.

He does, however, possess a potential bargaining chip in backup goaltender Josh Harding, who longs to become a starting goaltender, but won’t get that opportunity backing up Niklas Backstrom.

Fletcher won’t likely be keen to shop Harding early in the season, though, preferring to wait until later in the season when other clubs are more desperate for a goaltending upgrade, thus raising Harding’s value.

• Speaking of goaltenders, things aren’t rosy in Chicago, where Blackhawks starter Cristobal Huet has been struggling.

The Chicago Daily Herald suggests it’s far too early for the Blackhawks to give up on Huet, but if he fails to establish himself as the season progresses he could lose his job.

Don’t expect the Blackhawks to find any takers via the trade market as his expensive salary (two more years after this at $5.625 million per season) makes him almost impossible to trade. The Herald did suggest the possibility of demotion to clear his salary off the Hawks’ books, thus freeing up room to land another goaltender.

If Antti Niemi should step into the starter’s role and the Hawks can’t find a new home for Huet, he will end up being the most expensive backup in the league for the second straight season.

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.

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