A lack of scoring depth is hurting the New Jersey Devils' efforts to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings. They sit 25th overall in goals per game and 30th in shots per game. Their offensive production significantly drops beyond scoring leaders Jaromir Jagr (44 points) and Patrik Elias (29 points in 39 games).
Their anaemic offense could push GM Lou Lamoriello into the trade market. The Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere says Lamoriello must focus his attention on a top-line left wing by early March and wouldn't be surprised if the Devils also added an experienced defenseman.
Calgary's Michael Cammalleri (currently recovering from a concussion), Buffalo's Matt Moulson, Dallas' Ray Whitney and the Islanders' Thomas Vanek could be trade targets for Lamoriello. The asking price for Cammalleri, Moulson or Vanek could be expensive, as their current teams will seek young players, prospects and/or draft picks in return. The Devils also lack a first-round pick in this year's draft. Whitney would be a more affordable option, though the 41-year-old veteran's production is down significantly.
Lamoriello has a bargaining chip in goaltending legend Martin Brodeur, who recently told Chere he wouldn't be surprised if he were asked to waive his no-trade clause. Brodeur, however, said he's not seeking a trade and Chere believes the Devils prefer to retain him to back up his heir apparent, Cory Schneider.
Lamoriello dismissed the possibility of trading Brodeur earlier this season and it's unlikely he's changed his mind since.
WHAT WILL THE NYR DO WITH THEIR UFA PLAYERS?
The New York Rangers' contract talks with captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi continue to garner considerable attention around the league.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports no progress in negotiations and “wide gulfs” between Rangers management and the two players, who are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The New York Daily News' Pat Leonard writes that Callahan's agent, Stephen Bartlett of Sports Consulting Group, claims talks are ongoing. While acknowledging some “detours,” Bartlett remains optimistic about reaching a deal.
If Callahan isn't re-signed before the March 5 trade deadline, Leonard believes the winger could put negotiations on hold and “hit free agency” rather than allow talks to distract him from the Blueshirts' playoff chase.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Callahan seeks a seven-year deal at $6 million per season, while Girardi seeks a seven-year contract similar in dollars to that of St. Louis Blues defender Jay Bouwmeester ($5.4 million per). McKenzie says it’s his understanding the Rangers could trade one or both of them if unsigned at the deadline. McKenzie colleague Darren Dreger claims GM Glen Sather is gauging Callahan's trade value. While there's interest in Girardi, Dreger says the Rangers seem more confident in re-signing him.
With Girardi turning 30 in April and Callahan turning 29 in March, there's understandable reluctance on the Rangers' part to invest too much for too long in players who'll be in their late 30s when those deals expire. Moving either player, however, would be a serious blow to New York’s playoff hopes. Callahan is the Rangers' captain and their best two-way forward, while Girardi is arguably their best defenseman.
It should also be remembered there was considerable media pessimism earlier this season regarding the Rangers' negotiations with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist before he was re-signed to a multi-year deal. The approaching trade deadline puts more pressure on the Callahan and Girardi contract talks, but if term is the issue rather than dollars, a deal may be reached paying the pair the annual salaries they seek, but on shorter deals.
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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