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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Rumblings: Is this the year of buyer sanity?

By Pierre LeBrun


The eve of the trade deadline began Tuesday with most of the high-end rental players still in play.

Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Mike Cammalleri, Marian Gaborik and Ales Hemsky, all pending unrestricted free agent wingers, remained on the trade block, a departure in some ways from the past few years, when many of the rentals went days before the deadline.

Remember Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr all moved before the actual deadline day a year ago.

There's a pretty simple answer to it all: As one NHL GM of a contender told ESPN.com Monday night, the prices needed to go down before he would consider any of those rentals.

Is this the year the buyers keep their sanity?

Who knows, all it takes is one of those rentals to move Tuesday and the domino effect might take place.

Latest from the Kesler watch
Now for a non-rental ... the biggest name on the market, really.

The Canucks have continued to take a number of calls on Ryan Kesler the past few days, but there's still no clear indication whether he'll move before Wednesday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.

The asking price remains steep: an established NHLer in his 20s, a first-round pick and another Grade A prospect, or some variation of that mix.

Although I think the Flyers might be willing to give up Brayden Schenn in a Kesler deal, I'm not sure they'd give up much more that's high-end or at least not the asking price from the Canucks.

And although I think for sure the Penguins would start a package with center Brandon Sutter, is he really a good-enough established NHLer for Vancouver? Maybe if the rest of the package is good enough, I guess.

As I tweeted early Tuesday morning, the New York Rangers are keeping an eye on the Kesler situation. My guess is if they can't re-sign Ryan Callahan, perhaps that gets the Blueshirts into high gear on the Kesler front. The asking price for Vancouver would have to start with Derek Stepan, one assumes.

I was also told Tuesday morning that the Red Wings still have not gotten into any player discussion with Vancouver on the Kesler front. While both clubs are believed to have talked on Thursday, to this point, it hasn't gotten past that.

Is veteran Detroit GM Ken Holland lying in the weeds to see how the Kesler thing plays out? Perhaps.

Or maybe he's just more focused on what he really needs, a top-four defenseman.

We told you Monday of Detroit's interest in Christian Ehrhoff. That remained as of Tuesday morning, according to sources, but it wasn't going to happen at the sticker price the Sabres had on him.

Same as Detroit, Philadelphia's real need is a top-four defenseman. They really like Alexander Edler, but at this point it appears the Canucks aren't keen on trading him unless it's a whopper of an offer.

And on Callahan
You just sense this has to be decision day on the Ryan Callahan front, right?

The Rangers play on Wednesday, so if you're the Rangers, I would think you want to fish or cut bait here with your captain.

Either you get him signed Tuesday or you begin the process of trading him.

Will the Rangers go higher than $6 million a year? Will Callahan, who went south of $6.5 million, go even lower?

It's decision time.