NHL Rumours: Stars out on Lupul; Jagr on block?

With the Joni Ortio project over for now in Calgary, both Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are focused and determined to reclaim their status in the Flames crease.

With the all-star break and its bottomless plastic cups in the rear view, more than 56% of the regular season in the books and the NHL trade deadline less than five weeks away, we take a look at some of the more intriguing trade rumours making the rounds.

Jagr knows he’s trade bait
New Jersey Devils GM and interim head coach Lou Lamoriello has been tight-lipped — surprise! — about his deadline strategy, but pending UFA Jaromir Jagr knows he could well be dealt as a rental player.

“I don’t really want to think about it,” the future Hall of Famer told NorthJersey.com. “I just want to play the best I can play and whatever happens, happens. I just want to enjoy it every time I’m on the ice. I cannot control anything anyway.”

Jagr does not hold a no-trade clause, but the respected veteran expects interested teams to speak to him about a move before signing a deal.

“If anybody wants to bring somebody in, they want to make sure that he wants to go even if you don’t have control,” Jagr, 42, said.

Vultures swirl over Maple Leafs

With Toronto mired in a losing skid trench and No. 1 defenceman Dion Phaneuf now sidelined with a suspected hand injury, nearly everyone in blue and white has had his name brought up in trade rumours.

According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, teams are inquiring about James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly — two young talents on reasonable deals — but Toronto isn’t listening.

The Maple Leafs would rather consider a Dion Phaneuf trade, all the more unlikely to happen soon with the defenceman nursing an injury. The captain is signed for seven years at an average of $7 million per.

“You’re going to have a pretty tough time moving that contract unless you’re willing to take back somebody else’s problem,” an executive told Garrioch.

One of the most intriguing pieces is Joffrey Lupul, a dangerous winger who, when healthy, instantly elevates his line. Problem is, Lupul’s history with the IR is getting ridiculous.

“Heard from two people today that the Stars do not have interest in Joffrey Lupul,” tweeted Dallas beat reporter Mike Heika. “He really doesn’t make sense for what they need.”

Sekera wants to remain in Carolina

With trade buzz surrounding Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Andrej Sekera, the pending free agent expressed his desire to remain a ‘Cane.

“I said I want to stay here. Hopefully we’ll get something done. I really like it here,” Sekera told beat reporter Chip Alexander.

Sekera is in the final season of a four-year, $11-million contract and will get a raise one way or another.

Neil, Phillips on the way out of Ottawa?

Senators GM Bryan Murray said it would only be right to speak with longtime players Chris Phillips and Chris Neil before throwing their names on the market.

The Ottawa Sun checked in with both players and hardly got a resounding, “I want to stay! They want me to stay!”

“I haven’t really thought about (Murray’s situation) to be honest with you,” Neil told the paper Monday. “I haven’t talked to (Murray). We’ll cross that path whenever it comes and go from there.”

Said Phillips, “The last time I spoke pretty candidly you (media) blew it up and it was all over the place…. We’ll see what happens.”

If Winnipeg wants to get even better up front…

As the surprising Jets keep rolling to what looks like a long-awaited playoff berth, the Winnipeg Sun throws out some depth forwards they could chase through trade: Matt Calvert (Blue Jackets), Matt Hendricks (Oilers), Mike Santorelli (Maple Leafs), Daniel Winnik (Maple Leafs) and Torrey Mitchell (Sabres).

Sharks’ Wilson set to make a splash?
Stuck in no-man’s land, the San Jose Sharks need to decide how determined they are to contend for a Cup this spring.

Andrew Bench of The Hockey Writers cites GM Doug Wilson’s previous deadline moves (Bill Guerin in 2007, Brian Campbell in 2008) and wonders if San Jose will make a deadline splash in effort to re energize an up-and-down season. Bench advises against it.

Battered blue line injuries could force Lightning to deal

Teams that may have been on the fence whether they want to buy, sell or stand pat could be push in one direction or another due to recent injuries.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning losing Matt Carle (until March) and Radko Gudas (remainder of the regular season) general manager Steve Yzerman might want to acquire some blue-line depth.

“Those are guys that were two of our top six at the start of the year,” Yzerman said Thursday on NHL Tonight.

“We’ve been quite fortunate. Nikita Nesterov has come up from Syracuse and done quite well. Mark Barberio has filled in well. Luke Witkowski played his first NHL game last night and based on one game, he certainly deserves a second game.

“But depending on how these young guys do right now, it kind of will determine if we look to add somebody. Just somebody with more experience.”

Blue Jackets and Avalanche looking more and more like sellers

Devastating injuries to their respective all-stars — Columbus’s No. 1 goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Colorado’s No. 1 defenceman, Erik Johnson — should be the proverbial nail in the coffin of both clubs’ playoff hopes and give them plenty of time to evaluate what moves they’d like to make before March 2 to position themselves with a shot in 2015-16.

If the Ryan O’Reilly chatter wasn’t already deafening, expect it to crank up a notch with Johnson out.

h/t Nichols on Hockey

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