MONTREAL -- Vernon Fiddler caught the attention of the assembled media in the visitors' dressing room Tuesday.
"Hey, did you hear about the trade?" the Dallas Stars center jested.
A dozen heads immediately turned his way. And then he smirked, satisfied his little prank had gotten the necessary mileage.
Ah yes, less than a week removed from the NHL’s trade deadline, everyone is on edge.
None more so in the Stars' dressing room than Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro, both of whom have heard their names in the rumor mill. And indeed, sources confirmed to ESPN.com that the Stars have gotten calls on both and would consider moving them for the right deal.
"It obviously makes you a little nervous," Ott told ESPN.com after the morning skate. "I’ve been with the Stars since I was drafted. When your name gets mentioned in the rumors, it gets to you a little and you think about it. But truthfully, I do take it as a huge compliment. Obviously if there’s playoff contending teams that think I’m a puzzle piece, I take that as a compliment. But I want to stay here. I want to be part of the solution. But I can only control what I can control."
Ribeiro, who has another year on his contract next season at $5 million, is taking the rumors in stride.
"If I’m traded, I’m traded, not much I can do about it," Ribeiro said Tuesday. "Obviously I’d like to be here with the Stars. I want to re-sign here and stay with Dallas for the rest of my career. But you can’t control that. There’s a few more days and we’ll see after the 27th if I’m still here."
Ribeiro’s limited no-trade clause allows him to select 10 teams he doesn’t want to get traded to, leaving 19 teams for the Stars to deal him to if they chose to do so. Ribeiro, and we’re not sure if he was joking or not, said he’d welcome a trade back to Montreal if the Stars were to move him, although I don’t think the Habs are interested.
With tremendous offensive ability, Ribeiro could be an intriguing option for a team looking for top-six offensive impact. But the other year on his deal will scare off some teams that would rather trade for a rental.
Ott, meanwhile, has two years left on his deal after this season which carries at $2.95 million cap hit but pays him $3.2 million in salary. The agitator concedes he likes to follow some of the trade rumor coverage that’s out there.
"Yeah I do," Ott smiled. "I love the media stuff and I find it interesting what people have to say. You also have all your friends and family that are texting you asking you about some of these rumors. It’s nerve-wracking in the sense that Dallas is my base. I’ve been there so long that I can’t really fathom anything else."
The Stars will be an interesting team to watch over the next week. While they could easily be a playoff team this season, I get the sense from talking to sources around the league that GM Joe Nieuwendyk has his eye on the big picture and wants to help improve his team with the long view in mind. He could make a move or two over the next week that surprises people.