NHL Trade Talk Heating Up

This post about NHL trade talk is based on credible reports by hockey’s most plugged-in media outlets.

In just over one week’s time, the NHL schedule will break and the league’s top players will cross the water to participate in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While the NHL’s finest are overseas there will be a trade freeze here in North America – no players can be traded during this time. In lead up to the trade freeze that begins on February 7th and ends on the 23rd, there is a lot of trade buzz in the air. Some NHL general managers would like to make beneficial moves before Jan. 7, allowing their new acquisition(s) ample time to acclimatize to new surroundings.

Do you read 30 Thoughts? Of course you do. It’s a brilliant weekly piece published by Hockey Night In Canada‘s Elliott Friedman. In his latest edition, which can be read here, Friedman points out that the St. Louis Blues had interest in acquiring Islanders sniper Thomas Vanek back in October when the Austrian winger was first made available by the Buffalo Sabres. The implication is: hey, the Blues may still be interested.

The St. Louis Blues franchise has never won the Stanley Cup since its establishment in 1967. This year the Blues are a top contender, thus, trade speculation involving St. Louis is abundant.

One report suggests the Blues may be interested in acquiring the services of Rangers captain and pending UFA, Ryan Callahan. The rumour is largely based in guess-work, spawned by intel gained by TSN: Apparently the Rangers are inquiring about, or seeking information on, Blues power-forward Chris Stewart. More on this from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN via Darren Dreger.

Speaking of TSN Insider Darren Dreger, yesterday he uncovered that Callahan’s agent has been granted permission to talk with one NHL team. There is no concrete evidence revealing which team is so hotly in pursuit of Callahan that contract extension talk has been granted, but this piece of information certainly makes clear that the Rangers will trade their captain for the right return.

The Blues have also been linked to Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller throughout the season. Miller will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season if he is not signed before then. The Sabres are in the midst of a massive rebuild, leaving many to believe there is no chance Miller decides to stick around for another few years of bottom-feeding development. The former Vezina trophy winner and Olympic silver medalist is one of the top elite netminders in hockey – his addition would make nearly any NHL contender stronger.

The Blues enjoy solid goaltending from Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, however, neither is on Miller’s level, and both also become UFAs this summer; there is no obligation to either, long-term. This means a St. Louis Blues goalie trade would be somewhat easy to complete without needing to worry about existing contracts beyond the remainder of this season.

Yesterday, on TSN1050 Radio, it was reported by Dreger that the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t plan on re-signing Russian Olympian Nik Kulemin after this season. The Leafs may instead try and move Kulemin’s contract in the near future, as they struggle to find cap room for the returning David Bolland and Clarkson. Read more here, courtesy of The Score‘s Ian McLaren.

According to Louis Jean of TVA Sports, the Canadiens declined an offer that would’ve seen P-A Paranteau of the Colorado Avalanche join the Habs in exchange for Rene Bourque.

NHL trade talk is certainly heating up as the 2014 Winter Olympic break approaches. Many of the rumours in this post are public knowledge, and could occur in reality. That being said, there are so many variables in the salary cap era; it’s not as easy as: I’ll give you this guy and you give me that guy. Therefore, while there is possibly validity in these claims – there must be because the sources are credible – what actually ends up happening may not resemble the rumours.