NHL rumors may be hard to come by in this lockout-shortened season, but today I've found a trio of talented forwards who may be moved simply because they'll be unrestricted free agents after the season.
As the old saying goes, "if you can't extend their contracts, trade them away for less than market value!" Actually, I don't think that's an old saying at all, but that's generally the situation the teams of these players find themselves in.
Let's break down today's juiciest trade rumors.
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
For years, Jarome Iginla has been one of the most dangerous offensive players in the NHL, and his name certainly isn't new to NHL trade rumors.
But has his play this season and general manager Jay Feaster's likely asking price—sure to be steep—make his trade less likely?
From James Murphy of ESPN:
Reports out of Calgary are that the 35-year-old captain seems to have lost his spark and could be willing to waive his no-movement clause for a shot at the Stanley Cup that has eluded him for 15 seasons. On Sunday, Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch reported that the asking price for Iginla and his lackluster play may be scaring teams away.
While many league types were reluctant to speak about Iginla —even privately without attribution—many wonder if he could have success with another franchise after being with the Flames for 17 seasons.
"I'm just not sure what kind of impact he would make and you're going to have to give up a lot if you are going to get him," said one league executive. "You're talking about prospects and draft picks. Is it worth it?"
If the Flames aren't interested in bringing Iginla back next season, they'll have to settle for getting something in return, even if it's below market value. Otherwise, the team risks losing Iginla for nothing, as he's an unrestricted free agent after the season.
I would expect he'll be moved. General managers around the league will wait until Feaster's price goes down, and Feaster will try to drive that price back up once he establishes a market for Iginla. After 16 seasons in Calgary, it will be strange to see him go.
Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings
Another free agent to be, Valtteri Filppula of the Detroit Red Wings, could find himself traded if he and the team don't agree to a contract extension.
As Elliotte Friedman of CBC writes, "A couple of opponents are eying UFA-to-be Valtteri Filppula, but Ken Holland says they should be prepared to wait. 'I'm still trying to find out what we are,' the GM said this weekend."
With few scoring centres available in free agency, Filppula has some leverage to ask for a lot. All Holland would say: "There is a gap in negotiations." The one thing I'm always told about these things is that it's a process. But if Filppula wants to stay, as it's believed he does, he's going to have to find a number the Red Wings are comfortable with.
Filppula has four goals and six assists on the season, and had a breakout campaign for the Red Wings last year, scoring 23 goals and adding 46 assists in 81 games. He'll definitely get paid on the open market, but will he end up in a better situation or on a better team than in Detroit?
That's the question he and his agent will be asking themselves before the deadline. If the answer is "probably" or even "possibly," don't be surprised to see Filppula moved.
Stephen Weiss, Florida Panthers
Keeping with today's theme, we end on Stephen Weiss, who is—you guessed it—an unrestricted free agent after the season.
James Murphy of ESPN writes, "Another UFA that is rumored to be available is Florida Panthers 29-year-old forward Stephen Weiss."
He goes on to add:
There is a strong sense around the league that the Panthers are about to have a fire sale, and Weiss and management are reportedly not close in negotiations for the 2001 fourth pick overall to remain a Panther after this season.
Losing Weiss would hurt. He's played poorly this year, with only a goal and three assists, but he's rattled off three straight seasons of 20 goals or more. Weiss is a solid two-way player, is good on the power play and scores goals.
That's a nice combination, and Florida would be better off keeping around. Don't be surprised if he stays put.