Calling Fact or Fiction for the Hottest NHL Trade Rumors
As the NHL enters the second month of the 2015-16 season, the trade rumor mill is busily churning away. Several notable names, such as Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (pictured above), have already been suggested as possible trade candidates.
It's important, however, to determine if the rumors are based in fact or fiction. Is it possible a potential free-agent superstar, like Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, could hit the trade block? Could a struggling team, like the Calgary Flames, make a bold move to reverse its fortunes? Is a club with an injury-ravaged roster, like the St. Louis Blues, willing to make a deal to bolster its lineup?
The following slideshow will analyze the latest hot NHL rumors to decide if they're based in fact or fiction. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.
Kings Seeking a Defenseman?
Rumor: On Oct. 27, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Los Angeles Kings were among the teams looking to add “a defenseman or two.” He claimed the Kings weren't happy with their blue-line mix.
Analysis: Rob Blake, the Kings assistant general manager, told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun the defense gained stability following a shaky start. LeBrun observed the Kings used Brayden McNabb with Drew Doughty as their first defense pairing, while Jake Muzzin teamed with Alec Martinez to form the second.
Fact or fiction: Fiction. While the Kings began the season with three straight losses, they won all seven of their remaining games in October. They're among the top teams in the Western Conference. If there were early concerns over their defense, they're gone now.
Blues Ready to Deal Carl Gunnarsson?
Rumor: On Saturday, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported the St. Louis Blues were willing to trade defenseman Carl Gunnarsson.
Analysis: As per TSN, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and forwards Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund are sidelined by injury. That's a considerable hit to their depth chart. On Oct. 28, the club invited free-agent forwards Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus to St. Louis on a tryout basis.
Fact or fiction: Fiction, for now. On Oct. 29, Blues GM Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Tom Timmermann that he wants to avoid making short-term deals. It's also unlikely that Armstrong will move a big-minute defenseman like Gunnarsson while Shattenkirk remains out of the lineup.
No Takers for Luke Schenn?
Rumor: On Tuesday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported of several factors hampering the Philadelphia Flyers' efforts to trade defenseman Luke Schenn. The team's unwillingness to pick up part of his $3.6 million cap hit is one, while another is the 26-year-old's lack of speed.
Analysis: Though Schenn's an unrestricted free agent next summer, his cap hit is too expensive to move at this point in the season. Friedman also cited an unnamed general manager suggesting interest in Schenn could pick up once more of his salary is paid out by the Flyers.
Fact or fiction: Fact. Unless the Flyers are willing to pick up a portion of Schenn's cap hit, it could take until the Feb. 29 trade deadline to deal him.
Lightning Shopping Matthew Carle?
Rumor: On Saturday, the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson cited reports claiming the Tampa Bay Lightning could be trying to trade veteran defenseman Matthew Carle. Erlendsson suggests it would be a cost-cutting move to free up salary-cap room to re-sign team captain Steven Stamkos.
Analysis: Carle, 31, carries a $5.25 million annual salary-cap hit through 2017-18. Moving even part of that could go a long way toward creating sufficient space to re-sign Stamkos. Carle is no longer a top-pairing defenseman and is struggling to put up points this season.
Fact or fiction: Fact, though the Lightning will be lucky to find any takers right now. The decline in Carle's performance, his high cap hit and modified no-trade clause makes him difficult to move.
Ducks Listening to Offers for Cam Fowler?
Rumor: On Saturday, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray was “listening to offers” for defenseman Cam Fowler. However, Murray apparently only wants to deal with Eastern Conference teams and seeks a hefty return for the 23-year-old blueliner.
Analysis: The struggling Ducks are near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They're the league's lowest-scoring team and lack offensive punch. The Ducks possess depth in young defensemen (like Fowler) to use as trade bait. On Friday, however, Murray told the Ducks' website he has no plans for rash changes.
Fact or fiction: Taking Murray at his word, it's fiction. But if the Ducks don't turns things around soon, their hopes of remaining in the playoff chase could be in jeopardy. Their performance throughout November could turn this rumor from fiction to fact.
Flames Ready to Deal a Defenseman?
Rumor: On Thursday, the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland reported the Calgary Flames' early-season struggles prompted trade rumors involving defensemen Dennis Wideman (pictured above) and Kris Russell.
Analysis: The Flames are struggling to score. That explains the rumors suggesting general manager Brad Treliving could use his blue-line depth as trade bait for a scoring forward. Wideman, however, possesses a full no-movement clause. Russell is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, but they could try to re-sign the shutdown defenseman.
Fact or fiction: Fact. On Wednesday, the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis reported Treliving had been seeking help via trade, though he didn't specify which players he was trying to move. However, the Flames GM claims it's up to his current roster to turn things around. In other words, Treliving hasn't received any offers that can help his club.
Is Joffrey Lupul Likely to Move?
Rumor: In a Sunday column, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran suggested Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul as the core player “most likely to be dealt sooner rather than later.” McGran believes if the oft-injured Lupul “can score and stay healthy, he'd draw some interest and a high return.”
Analysis: When the 32-year-old Lupul is healthy, he's an effective scoring winger. Unfortunately, he has a lengthy injury history. The last time he played more than 69 games in a season was 2008-09 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Lupul's also carrying a $5.25 million annual salary-cap hit through 2017-18 with a modified no-trade clause.
Fact or fiction: Fiction. Nobody's picking up a frequently sidelined winger approaching his mid-30s carrying a cap hit over $5 million per season. Even if the Leafs pick up part of his cap hit or accept a toxic contract in return, Lupul's long history of injuries makes him a risky investment.
Steven Stamkos to Calgary?
Rumor: On Oct. 21, Sportsnet's Mark Spector reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving sought a big trade to shake up his club. How big? Spector claims Treliving spoke with Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman about his difficulties in re-signing captain Steven Stamkos.
Analysis: Spector believed Treliving would be willing to move a top young player, like center Sam Bennett, as part of the return for Stamkos. Unfortunately for this rumor, Stamkos has a full no-movement clause this season.
Fact or fiction: Fiction. Stamkos isn't going anywhere this season. He's not waiving his no-movement clause to leave a potential Stanley Cup contender in midseason to join a struggling, rebuilding team.