More aimless Travis Zajac trade speculation


traviszajac2.jpgIf you’ve not made time to spend with your grain of salt lately, perhaps it’s time you got reacquainted. As we know, now that the Devils officially have Ilya Kovalchuk back in the fold, the Devils are under a bit of a salary cap crunch. The Devils have any number of moves they can make in order to help the team get back under the salary cap (they’re over by around $3 million at the moment) and while there’s a couple of players we mentioned the other day that could be on the move, one Ottawa columnist opines that one other player in particular could be the one to go. Grain of salt, go!

Sources say since Lamoriello is not happy with the idea of giving up picks, the Devils have been quietly dangling around 25-year-old centre Travis Zajac, who has a $3.9- million cap hit through 2012-13.

“He’s a good player,” said one NHL executive.

The Devils got their man by signing Kovalchuk, but it comes with a whole new set of headaches.

By the time training camp wraps up at the end of this month, there could be a few familiar faces missing.

Of the players the Devils have that have a high salary and could be moved (Salvador, Zubrus, Zajac, Brian Rolston), Zajac is the most attractive as he’s proven he’s got top skills and, more importantly, he’s much younger than the other three players by far. Zajac is just 24 years-old and would be a welcome addition to any team that wanted to bring him on. Of course, the Devils dealing him away would make them that much older and they’d be losing a guy who’s developed a ton of chemistry with Zach Parise, the Devils other major goal scorer.

It would, ideally, be easier to find suitors for Zajac, of course, even with a cap hit near $3.9 million for the next three years because he’s young and his career is still on the rise. Guys like Salvador, Zubrus and Rolston are already maxed out as far as their careers go. You’re probably not going to see much more improvement out of them and in the case of Brian Rolston, his game has fallen off so hard in the last year that his $5 million cap hit for the next two years looks especially painful.

Could Travis Zajac be traded? Sure, anything is possible. Is it likely? No. The only way it becomes at all feasible is if the Devils are really desperate to get under the cap and don’t want to pay Brian Rolston $5 million to play for Albany in the AHL, a possibility that hasn’t even been discussed at all publicly. (edit: Thanks to the comments for pointing out my brain fart. The only cap relief a 35+ contract gets if a player is sent to the AHL is $100,000. CapGeek has that info in their FAQ under “What’s a 35+ contract”.)

Thank goodness for the grain of salt.

Rangers’ Klein exits with muscle strain, won’t return

Kevin Klein

The New York Rangers lost versatile d-man Kevin Klein early in the first period of their game against Carolina and, shortly after, announced he was done for the night.

Klein played just 2:22 before leaving with a muscle strain. The injury forced the Blueshirts to use just five defensemen for the remainder of the evening — Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle and Dan Girardi.

While it’s unclear how the injury occurred or how significant it is, Klein’s absence could be costly if it’s long-term. The 30-year-old was having a good year, with six points in 24 games, and saw his ice time go up to 21:03 per game from 18:29 last year.

If Klein is out moving forward, it would present an opportunity for Dylan McIlrath to take up a bigger role on the New York defense.


‘It was a scary incident’: Colaiacovo returns to Sabres practice after dented trachea

Carlo Colaiacovo
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Carlo Colaiacovo‘s remarkably quick recovery from what appeared to be a serious injury continued on Monday, as he returned to practice roughly 48 hours after suffering a dented trachea.

Colaicovo, who was hospitalized after taking a Viktor Arvidsson cross-check to the throat on Saturday, skated with his Buffalo teammates on Monday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Detroit.

“I feel good,” Colaiacovo said, per the Sabres’ website. “Obviously it was a scary incident and at the time it was pretty painful but it is what it is.

“Right now, it’s not really stopping me from doing much.”

Though he said he’s still feeling pain in and around his throat, Colaiacovo is eligible to return to the Sabres’ lineup tomorrow.

The 32-year-old, who has appeared in 15 games this season, would no doubt like to play tomorrow. It’d put him up against the same Detroit team that employed him during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, only to buy out his contract at the end of the year.

Couture (fractured fibula) continues skating with Sharks, says return is on schedule

Logan Couture
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Some good news at Sharks practice today — Logan Couture continued to skate with teammates, just one week after returning to the ice from a broken leg suffered on Oct. 17.

What’s more, Couture says he’s on schedule to meet the 4-6 week timetable for return.

“[I’m] where I thought I would be at this point in time,” Couture said, per CSN Bay Area.

While the 26-year-old wouldn’t put an exact date on his return, it’s clear both he and the Sharks are anxious for him to get back in the lineup — especially with the club surging, and Couture having only played in three regular-season contests this year.

Looking ahead, there are some dates worth circling on the ol’ calendar.

The Sharks have a relatively light week. After beating Calgary 5-2 on Saturday, they play just once in five days — Tuesday’s home tilt against the Penguins — before a weekend back-to-back set against the Ducks on Friday and Lightning on Saturday.

The Ducks game is in Anaheim, but the following night’s contest against the Bolts is at the friendly confines of SAP. So that could be a potential date to watch for — but it is worth noting Couture said he’s still hesitant about getting into game action until his first step is back.

“Until then, I’m not going to force my way out there and put myself in a bad spot,” he explained.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler

It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks