Addressing the Latest Rumors for Draft Day

Some rumors are just getting out of hand. Some are possible, it’s best to just speculate.Two more days for the Entry Draft and yet I just noticed that coverage starts at 6,30 PM. Unfortunately, I am busy at that time and I won’t be following the Draft completely, though I will try to sneak and check what’s going on. So, we will try to do our best to give you coverage of the Draft, but the timing is quite an inconvenience. But, most of you should be home by 6,30 PM eastern time.

Anyway, let’s pin point what’s going on around the general media for NHL trade rumors. My previous column had a segment on Mr. Eklund and his motives to hand out “special” information regarding rumors. Well, I have ignored Eklund for over a year because I didn’t care for his business and his silly rumors, which I still find quite entertaining. But, recently people have complained about his doings and too many have expressed their feelings of being “ripped off” by paying nearly $20.

So, Mr. Eklund continues to hand out rumors left and right like a plane dropping fliers to the public. I don’t like to make judgements on someone I don’t know, but why doesn’t Eklund allow people to know who he is? Privacy issue? Come on, he’s got people writing articles on his Web site that are well known. If general managers know him, what’s to hide? Come out of the closet Eklund!

But anyway, my concern is that Eklund is feeding information that misleads hockey fans, and some of these hockey fans pay to get this information. So…this led me to think that I should start taking better notice of Eklund and I have recently. I don’t mind the guy posting rumors from his “sources”, but some of them are just flat out stupid and if Eklund claims to be a knowledgeable hockey fan then I’d expect him to put some effort in critiquing these rumors. He does not do it though. He accepts them and passes them on to the fans. That’s what bothers me.

Recently…

Ryan Smyth to Toronto (e3), Calgary (e2)
To Toronto? Okay. To Calgary? How when they have to put aside to keep Jerome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff in 2008?

Esche to Anaheim (e3)
So…is Eklund implying that J-S Giguere is staying and Bryzgalov is traded, or vice versa?

Roman Hamrlik to Florida (e3)
That is absolutely false as the Florida Panthers are currently carrying nine defensemen, and Jacques Martin has said that he will not go after any key free agents and Roman Hamrlik qualifies in that category since he will most likely get at least $4.5M a season or so.

Scotty Gomez to Vancouver (e2)
Vancouver does not have the cap room to sign Gomez.

it is believed to be the San Jose Sharks who may offer up a very good prospect for the rights to sign Drury early. It is also possible that Rivet could go back to Buffalo (e3).

Well, I honestly do not see how Drury would replace Marleau and as far as I know, Drury has expressed possible interest in the Rangers. So, I’d think that Drury will play it smart and wait for July 1st, and I think Doug Wilson of the Sharks will be smart as well and try to sign him on July 1st instead of wasting assets. Also, Rivet going back to Buffalo? He was never in Buffalo except on road games with the Montreal Canadiens.

There are rumors surrounding Daniel Briere and the LA Kings today
To me, this makes no sense. Briere will receive at least six offers. So…I could write that exact phrase and put NY Rangers, Flyers, Canadiens, Blue Jackets, Avalanche. Would it matter? No. Those teams could all be interested in Briere and could all make offers, so of course I could hear any one of these teams be interested in Briere. Huge lack of substance in this rumor. If the guy was not set to become a UFA player, then sure it could have made sense; but, he is a UFA, so it does not make sense.

The Coyotes are shopping Boynton (e2)
I am just nitpicking here, but could it be pure coincidence that I have mentioned Nick Boynton in the last couple of days on my Rangers message board that I frequent? Yes, but is the timing intriguing? Yes as well.

There is more talk that Marleau could be moved to a team in the East. The four leading candidates are Montreal (e4), the NY Islanders (e3), the Devils (e2), and Boston (e2)…but as a source told me “It is in Montreal’s court to be certain. They (the Habs) are trying to get something done prior to the Draft.
It cannot happen prior to the draft because the Sharks are not going to trade away their captain and gamble on a replacement for him in July. And, the Islanders are trying to lock up Ryan Smyth and Jason Blake. Right now Marleau is a no go for them and I doubt they would want to trade more depth after giving a handful away for Ryan Smyth back in February.

Word is that Shanahan is getting close to returning to the Rangers and if he does he will try and sway his friend Gomez to join the Blue shirts.
Ummm, since when are these two friends? Can anyone else confirm this? As far as I know, since I closely follow the Atlantic Division, Shanahan and Gomez have zero connection. They are not even on the same national team.

However I have also hear the Oilers have interest in Olli Jokinen, and may put a huge package together…
I think Eklund needs to listen to the facts coming from some general managers and stop trusting his “sources” because that is another flat out lie. If the Oilers are setting up a package to land Olli Jokinen, they are wasting their time because Jokinen is not on the market for two reasons. He is the face of the franchise, and the Panthers are looking to make the playoffs with Jokinen as their captain and #1 player. Does Edmonton have anyone that could replace Jokinen’s value to the Panthers? No. Also, GM Jacques Martin once again said that he will not look to make a blockbuster trade or a major signing. HELLO EKLUND!? How about reporting that to the fans instead of silly ideas such as Jokinen’s chances to become an Oiler?

And by the way, what happened to the Gerber + for Horton rumors? What happened to the Panthers greatly seeking Daniel Briere? Ahhh….disappeared? Why? Geee…BECAUSE THEY WERE FALSE!

So….what’s going on then? So many rumors so little time. Mr. Eklund, please take my message seriously. Change your approach to these rumors, or things could start changing for you the more time your rumors are proven wrong on nearly a daily basis. And, please contact me if you want to challenge my comments on your small business of hockey rumors. I’ll make it easier for you, here is my e-mail: m__peroni@go.com.

Anyway, I am planning to change HockeyTradeRumors.com as Trademan and Lint07 both agree we should turn this into a pay Web site. That’s right. We just found that our NHL sources are enough to report trade rumors and so we will charge you $50 (USD) a WEEK just to see our numerous rumors.

Ok, you knew I was kidding when I said $50 bucks eh? I hope…

So, let’s talk seriously now and I think we’re all smart enough to make some educated speculations on what can happen on Draft Day. This is my column and under my column your ideas and hockey knowledge are always welcomed, so if you have a good and realistic speculation, please do share.

I will start off with the two teams I am most familiar with.

New York Rangers

I still hold on to the idea that the Rangers can look to make a couple of significant moves for the Draft. While Tom Renney expressed interest in acquiring a defenseman, I do not expect the Rangers to go for a bidding war on a defenseman in the off-season, unless they may be looking at someone like Aaron Miller who would come in cheap. Aside from that I don’t think they will look at Rafalski, who can now ask $6M a season thanks to the Flyers handing Timonen such a ridiculous contract. Not even Roman Hamrlik would be worth it. I
still like to hang on the idea that the Rangers may look to acquire Phoenix’s 3rd overall pick. What does that have to do with defensemen though? I think it would make sense for the Rangers and the Coyotes to make a trade involving Al Montoya, 3rd overaller, and Nick Boynton, or possibly Derek Morris but that may be too much. I’d like to speculate this idea because there are some significant ties, such as: 1) Phoenix was interested in drafting Al Montoya as Al Montoya expressed interest in being drafted by the Coyotes (Chicago and Rangers were the other two teams mentioned). 2) Former Rangers As.GM Don Maloney is now Phoenix’s GM. 3) The Coyotes are seeking a goaltender for their future. 4) A few years ago the Rangers almost pulled a trade with the Calgary Flames by acquiring Derek Morris. 5) The Rangers were rumored to acquire Nick Boynton when he was a Bruin without a contract.

So….some interesting facts there that make sense as to why these two teams could swing a deal. The other possibility is that the Rangers could still look to acquire a player, possibly a defenseman, via trade and may use their 17th overall pick to do so. It’s not a high possibility, but people forget that the Rangers are sneakingly in the hunt for a Cup Final so…don’t rule anything out.

The other team I’ve come to know best is Florida. I’ve also been lucky to find a couple of good contacts within the organization that once in a while answer my questions. So, when I say Eklund was, and is, wrong about his sources telling him of Briere, Horton, and Jokinen, then he is wrong. Of course there could be a twisted change out of nowhere, especially since Bryan Murray is now the GM of the Senators, but expect Nathan Horton to re-sign and do not expect the Florida Panthers to go after any big name free agents. That means that recent rumors of the Panthers possibly trading either Weiss or Horton for a decent-at-best-goalie-with-overpaid-contract are also false.

Will the Panthers make any moves though? Don’t bet on it. Jacques Martin has been very conservative as a general manager thus far and he seems to be the type that does not like giving up too much. But, let’s speculate a little. Of course, goaltending is still an issue even if Martin said he would feel comfortable enough with Eddie Belfour, Alex Auld, and Craig Anderson. Yet, maybe Martin is also playing a little game here by setting himself as a GM not in desperate need of a goalie, which in a way is true. Had Belfour played in November the way he did the last two months of the season, the Panthers would have made the playoffs, as they also did slightly better in statistics this season than in last season with Luongo. Still, I think Martin wants to see an improvement if possible. The names still remain with Vesa Toskala, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Manny Fernandez as the key goalies to get. Personally, I’d take Bryzgalov over those two and I hope that is the guy that GM Martin goes after, as it would also make sense. How?

Anaheim should really lock up J-S Giguere. Scott Neidermeyer and Teemu Selanne may retire and that means that the team must remain strong and secured in goal. Giguere should be the obvious choice over Ilya Bryzgalov for the Ducks, but Ilya also wants a shot to start and he gets that either in Boston, Florida, or Phoenix. Let’s stick with Florida for the moment. The Ducks could lose O’Donnell, Huskins, and DiPenta to free agency, and they may seek a couple of defensemen. The Panthers have nine defensemen on their roster thus far and Branislav Mezei and/or Steve Montador could come of interest. Straight up for Bryzgalov? Of course not. But, something can work out and maybe Burke would like Alex Auld as the back-up for Giguere, where he could learn from a goalie that plays a similar style. Makes sense? Yeah, worthy enough to speculate on. Now with Muckler out of the way in Ottawa, maybe Martin could pull himself away from his earlier statements regarding a blockbuster trade, which he has no intention of doing. But, if the Senators are dangling Wade Redden, maybe Martin could be interested? Long shot, but not such a bad scenario either.

The Phoenix Coyotes are definitely making a move. They have to get at least something in order to improve their roster. With the need for a goalie, and Anaheim’s possible need of a defenseman, both teams could agree on Nick Boynton/Derek Morris for Ilya Bryzgalov. Straight up? Of course not, it would be a package and Morris is more valuable than Boynton, but it could be done. The New Jersey Devils will most likely lose Brian Rafalski to free agency, unless they match another team’s offer as they did last time (matched New York Rangers’ offer). So, this means that they too will seek a defenseman, and Phoenix can negotiate two of them.

The Montreal Canadiens will look to make a move, of course. They have to. Maybe they can deal Kovalev on draft day, but they should definitely look to make a move to get a significant center. Patrick Marleau has been spoken of, but I doubt the Sharks are willing to make such a drastic change unless they know for sure that they will get a good 2nd line center. So, look at Nashville instead of San Jose. The Predators are looking to layoff some players and Jason Arnott could be one of them. Bob Gainey could have keen interest in obtaining a big center like Arnott, acquired by Gainey in Dallas, and the Predators are looking to slash salary. It could happen, it could work.

The Blue Jackets have a new general manager, Mr. Howson, and he could look to make some immediate changes, such as trading Adam Foote, possibly, or Nik Zherdev who apparently wants out. What would he seek in return? Hard to say since the team needs anything it can get to help as all three areas (goaltending, defense, offense) are questionable, and overall it is a team with lack of depth. So, maybe the B’Jacks will make some moves during the Draft, or they may sign a few second, third tier players in the off-season to bolster their line-up. But, keep an eye on Nik Zherdev.

By the way, why is the media completely ignoring the Tampa Bay Lightning? I know, you hear about this team and trade rumors and all you get is Vincent Lecavalier talk, or Brad Richards. Frankly, if I were Feaster I’d trade Brad Richards and his very unworthy contract, dump it on the Chicago Blackhawks, get Nikolai Khabibulin back, and bolster the line up with more depth. As for the Hawks, well to have Brad Richards with Sergei Samsonov and Martin Havlat is just friggin scary. But anyway, set that aside, what about the goaltending situation in Tampa? Why are we only hearing the Panthers and not Tampa? These guys are in a worse position than the Panthers too, so it surprises me how the media neglected to mention that the Bolts may be the ones going for Ilya Bryzgalov, or Manny Fernandez, or Vesa Toskala. The trouble is, they have Marc Denis to dump and I don’t think there are many takers out there unless Boston or Phoenix feel cheated by trying to acquire Toskala, Bryzgalov, or Fernandez (as in the asking price is too much), or maybe one of the two misses out on one of these goalies. So, that puts either one in a position where Marc Danis would be affordable and worthy of a chance. But still, do not rule out Tampa Bay as they could be in the hunt to acquire a goaltender.

In order for Buffalo to keep either Briere or Drury, and Vanek, a player must be traded and quite possibly it could be Ales Kotalik, but don’t rule out Max Afinogenov either as he was benched by Lindy Ruff a couple of times. Look for Buffalo to make a trade that cuts salary.

The Colorado Avalanche could be making moves as well. This team misses the playoffs and the media ignores them. Ha! That’s probably a good
thing for management. I think GM Giguere would like to swing a deal of some sort to improve the line-up, but I’d expect the Avalanche to get a big name player in the off-season, maybe during the draft, but I wouldn’t rule out Briere, Drury, Gomez, and even Ryan Smyth. Something’s up down in Colorado, it’s just been too quiet.

That’s pretty much it from my part. If any of you would like to add more, feel free to do so but nothing ridiculous or so completely far fetched! And please, no bashing each other’s points of views either.

Thanks for reading as always,

Micki Peroni
Vice-Administrator