On Thursday the rebuilding Calgary Flames dealt little-used defenseman Tim Jackman to the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick, clearing his $612,500 cap hit from their books.
After the move the Flames were 27th overall in payroll ($54.1 million), with over $13 million in cap space. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames, unlike other low budget rebuilding clubs, have “the financial muscle” to use their cap space to their advantage. If they take a high-salaried player off the hands of a cap-strapped contender, LeBrun speculated they could also pick up a high draft pick or quality prospect as part of the deal.
NBC Sports' Jason Brough noted that Craig Button had wondered if the offensively anaemic Vancouver Canucks might have interest in Flames winger Mike Cammalleri, who has nine goals and 13 points in 15 games. Brough wasn't sure if the Canucks would part with a high pick or top prospect for Cammalleri, suggesting they could ask the Flames to take struggling David Booth's $4.25-million-per-season contract off their hands, which the Flames could then dump via compliance buyout next summer.
Given Cammalleri is earning $7 million this season ($6 million cap hit), the Flames could also offer to pick up part of his contract to make him palatable to clubs with limited cap space. In addition to the Canucks, the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes are three other low-scoring clubs carrying hefty payrolls that could have interest in Cammalleri, along with budget-conscious teams like the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators.
Even if the Flames absorb half of Cammalleri's remaining salary, it could take a while to find a suitable trade partner. Some of those cap-strapped teams would still have to shed salary to absorb the remainder of his contract. His limited no-trade clause will also be a factor. It's expected the Flames will shop him close to the March trade deadline, when most of his salary will be paid out and playoff contenders start shopping in earnest for scoring help.
SENATORS LOOKING FOR BLUELINE HELP
The ongoing struggles of the Ottawa Senators sparked reports of GM Bryan Murray shopping around for help. The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan cited sources saying Murray was in the market for a top-six forward, but Brennan's colleague Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators hope winger Milan Michalek will break out of his slump soon.
Garrioch claimed Murray's priority is finding a top-four defenseman who can help them improve in their own zone. He cited Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers and Matt Niskanen of the Pittsburgh Penguins as options.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports the Rangers are getting calls about Del Zotto though they “aren't necessarily dangling him” as trade bait and haven't received an offer that interests them.
Del Zotto was a healthy scratch from three recent Rangers games and needs more playing time to improve his trade value. Of course, if his performance improves, the Rangers have less reason to move him. Niskanen is an unrestricted free agent at season's end, but given how well he filled in earlier this season for an injured Kris Letang, the Penguins could retain him as insurance.
HURRICANES HAVE TOO MANY GOALIES, NOT ENOUGH OFFENSE
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford recently told the Raleigh News & Observer he wouldn't rule out a trade to bolster his offense and would consider shopping a goaltender.
Losing winger Alexander Semin to concussion is a serious blow to the Hurricanes’ offense, but that could be offset by Jeff Skinner's return from an upper-body injury.
Starting goalie Cam Ward has returned from a groin injury and backup Anton Khudobin (ankle) is expected back soon, which would leave call-up Justin Peters the odd man out. Peters filled in for Ward and Khudobin with a 4-7-1 record, a 2.49 GAA and .920 SP.
Besides a trade, Rutherford could carry all three goalies on his roster or demote Peters, running the risk of losing him via waivers. To buy time, Khudobin could be sent to the minors on a two-week conditioning stint.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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