Rumor Roundup: Zajac doesn’t make sense for Maple Leafs

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac has been mentioned in connection with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it wouldn’t make any sense for the rebuilding Buds to acquire the veteran pivot. Meanwhile, rumors of Boston targeting Dustin Byfuglien are persisting, but the Bruins will probably look at cheaper options as an injury replacement for Dennis Seidenberg.
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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Last week, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported of talk around the league suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello might be keen to acquire center Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.

NJ.com's Rich Chere weighed in on the speculation, suggesting Lamoriello could be discussing several options with Devils GM Ray Shero. Chere believes Leafs center Nazem Kadri could be part of a trade scenario, and feels the Devils “would undoubtedly consider a package deal” involving Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk.

Chere didn't tie Zajac with Kadri or van Riemsdyk, though it's easy to understand why the Devils might wish to move him. Since his career-best 67-point effort in 2009-10, his production has steadily declined, reaching a career-worst 25 points last season. Zajac's also carrying an annual average salary of $5.75 million for six more seasons, plus he carries a full no-trade clause.

Acquiring Zajac, however, makes absolutely no sense for the supposedly rebuilding Leafs. Nor does peddling Kadri before they've had an opportunity to fully evaluate his play in the upcoming season. And unless the centerpiece of a package offer is Adam Henrique, there's really not much the Devils can propose to convince the Leafs brain trust to part with van Riemsdyk.

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons said it best: if the Leafs acquire Zajac, it will be the first sign that their great rebuild plan won't take place.

BYFUGLIEN TO BRUINS TALK PERSISTS

When it was announced last week that Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg would miss eight weeks following back surgery, CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty suggested it could spark another round of rumors linking the Bruins with Winnipeg Jets blueliner Dustin Byfuglien.

Sure enough, the “Byfuglien-to-Boston” speculation resurfaced, prompting Haggerty to follow up by noting the high price to acquire the Jets rearguard. He thinks the Jets will want a return consisting of a first-round pick, a good roster player and a top prospect. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa chimed in by suggesting the Jets could seek one of the Bruins two first-round picks in the 2016 NHL draft, along with help off the roster.

Byfuglien, 30, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, which explains why his name has been bandied about the rumor mill in recent months. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman claims he's heard no updates on contract talks between the defenseman and Jets management. While acknowledging the rumors linking Bygulien to the Bruins, Friedman believes they'll look at more cost-effective options.

It's rumored Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn could be available, while the Edmonton Journal's Jonathan Willis believes Oilers blueliner Nikita Nikitin could be a trade candidate. However, Haggerty doesn't consider them palatable options for the Bruins. For now, the Bruins continue to assess the young defensemen in their system in hopes one or two prove capable of stepping up this season.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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