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With a light game schedule Monday, the NHL rumor mill churned furiously into overdrive. Gossiping with enough candor to make an adolescent female blush, members of the hockey grapevine in North America quickly sunk their teeth into several juicy suggestions and suppositions. The best part about innuendo such as the following is that it often turns out to be correct.
1. Vincent Lecavalier is set to leave Tampa Bay.
Sure, we've all heard this one before, but it has never carried such hefty weight. First off, no one from Lecavalier's camp is calling foul nor insisting he's staying put. Previously, members of the camp had denied rumors of the center's departure. That's strange on its own, but the speed with which this item has gained steam also is noteworthy. Pundits throughout the hockey world all seemed to start crowing about this development simultaneously, only with different details. Some say Lecavalier is headed for Montreal, others (reasonably) refuse to guess.
But should this move actually happen, and again, it's all hearsay, the biggest fantasy casualty would be Martin St. Louis. The diminutive winger has skated alongside Lecavalier for so long, benefiting from his talent. An end to that relationship could only hurt St. Louis' value. St. Louis plays well, but the two are into their eighth year of playing together, and you can't replace that kind of chemistry quickly. And Lecavalier is the superstar. Watch him make a better adjustment to change than his little buddy. St. Louis has 14 points in his past eight games. There's no way he'd maintain that pace if Lecavalier were to play elsewhere.
2. The Senators face a specific deadline to turn things around or else.
Apparently the team has two games, Tuesday's contest with Carolina and Wednesday's with Atlanta, to seriously smarten up, else a massive shake-up is in order. The coaching staff is most vulnerable, as usual, but it doesn't take a genius to figure that either Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley is not long for Canada's capital, either. The smart money is on a Spezza trade. Although his numbers have been better of late (seven points in six games), he's considered more of a defensive liability than Heatley. Regardless, nothing but good can come through any action. Whatever might turn around a disappointing season for Spezza, Heatley (only two goals since Dec. 8) and Daniel Alfredsson would be a welcome move. The only possible bad news regarding these three would be a commitment to maintaining the status quo.
3. Roberto Luongo will start Thursday's home game against Phoenix
Probably. The least exciting rumor likely is the most accurate. Luongo won't confirm a Thursday return to the ice, but he played hard during Monday's practice and reportedly is ready for game action. If he's not at 100 percent, he's pretty close. If he doesn't play Thursday, a start against Columbus on Sunday is almost guaranteed. And feel free to activate him immediately. The Canucks won't rush their star back prematurely. If he's out there, he's healthy.
It doesn't look like Atlanta will deal away Ilya Kovalchuk this season after all. Following his two years of service as an alternate, the Thrashers officially named Kovalchuk their team captain Monday. Trading him in the foreseeable future would be a very bizarre move. Dastardly news regarding Phil Kessel: The Bruins placed their top goal scorer on injured reserve because he has mononucleosis. Until we hear more, it's difficult to predict how long this illness will keep Kessel out. Brad Richards broke a four-game pointless streak and notched his first assist of 2009 in Dallas' 5-4 overtime win versus Detroit.