Trade talk and rumours heat up at NHL Draft Staff

6/19/2008 7:09:27 PM

With 30 NHL general managers all together in the same city, the trade talk intensifies along with the rumours.

One report out of Ottawa had 2008 Hart Trophy candidate Evgeni Malkin on the move from the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins, while Jason Spezza's name continues to be mentioned as possible trade bait. The latter claim was quickly disputed by the Senators' chief deal maker.

"You guys make up more stuff than I can ever imagine," Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray told reporters on Thursday. "I heard a rumour last night that Pittsburgh was moving one of their star players. I talked to their manager today to see if I could be included in the discussions and they kind of laughed at me."

While the rumour mill is not quite amusing for league executives trying to conduct their business, the future stars of the game - who are obviously fans at heart - are excited at the possibilities.

"All of us are talking and we're obviously trying to find the rumours," defenceman Alex Pietrangelo told reporters with a smile. "We won't really know until draft night, and we're just kind of waiting around to see what happens. We're kind of expecting something to happen and if it does, hopefully I end up where I want to go."

There is no question that teams are trying to make things happen to better their club. A lot of  general managers have stated they would like to move up in the draft, but with such a talented group of prospects and so many high quality defencemen, securing a better position is becoming nearly impossible.

"If you're ready to give up one of your top players, they may include a pick or a flip of a pick," Murray explained. "But for us at this point, it doesn't make any sense."

The Toronto Maple Leafs, who have the seventh overall pick on Friday, are rumoured to have interest in moving up in the draft. But interim GM Cliff Fletcher, who made his own draft day splash with the Leafs in the Wendel Clark-Mats Sundin trade in 1994, knows such moves are easier said than done.

"They used to ask me how close you are to doing something and I always said it was on the front burner or the back burner," Fletcher said Thursday. "Nothing's reached the front burner as far as the Leafs are concerned.

And it's not just players the managers are trying to trade. With unrestricted free agency beginning on July 1, players right's are being offered up to give teams exclusive negotiating privileges for more than a week.

Murray confirmed Thursday that he tried to do that with veteran defenceman Wade Redden, but had no takers.

Written with files from TSN's Brent Wallace.