Not a GM was stirring

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

The NHL's holiday roster freeze went into effect at midnight last night and there was barely a peep from the offices of the 30 league GMs.

That means nobody will be getting a change of address card for Christmas and players are now safe to make plans until Dec. 27 at midnight, when dealing can begin again.

Still, don't expect of a flurry of deals. There have been 13 trades this season and only five involved actual NHL players. Even those threatening to make trades are having a tough time turning their words into action.

Sources say Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster, unhappy with the club's 13th- place standing in the East and lack of consistency, has been working hard to make something happen.

There's not a chance Feaster is going to fire coach John Tortorella, who led the club to a Stanley Cup in 2004. That means the blame is going to fall at the feet of the players and the Bolts' roster right now isn't good enough.

The names most often mentioned as trade bait are wingers Vaclav Prospal and Ruslan Fedotenko. Sure, it'd be nice to think the Bolts might try to make a bigger move involving Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards or Dan Boyle, but the size of their salaries makes that unlikely.

Fedotenko, an unrestricted free agent, was a healthy scratch on the weekend which led many to believe he might be moved before the midnight freeze, with four or five teams -- including the Hawks -- interested in making a deal.

As for Prospal, he's posted decent numbers offensively (three goals and 20 points), but went into last night's game against the Capitals with a minus-13 rating. Prospal's name is all over the league because those kinds of numbers don't sit well with a guy like Tortorella in the sunny south.

While it's easy for a guy like Feaster to make it known he'd like to deal, he's finding it much more difficult to actually make it happen. Under the new cap system, GMs are exposed when they make a bad move and that's why they want to be careful.

That's why the New York Rangers decided to put defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh and his $2.75-million US contract on waivers Monday. Since no other NHL team was going to go near that deal, Ozolinsh will be biding his time with the club's AHL affiliate in Hartford until president/GM Glen Sather can figure out what to do with him.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes, teams that are virtually out of playoff contention before Santa even gets a chance to drop anything under the tree, are also actively shopping around, but there's not a lot on those two rosters that anybody covets.

Now, if Peter Forsberg could ever get a skate that fits properly and spend some real time in the Philadelphia lineup, he could be an ideal rental player for a contender at the deadline because he's also a UFA next season. As for Phoenix, several teams have called about captain Shane Doan and winger Ladislav Nagy, but the Coyotes have resisted the offers to this point.

BEANTOWN WHISPERS

The Boston Bruins are also looking to make changes. There's been whispers in Beantown that Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi would like to acquire free-agent defenceman Brad Stuart and sign him to a long-term contract. The Kings are still looking to move struggling centre Craig Conroy.

But it's worth noting that just because there's no trade action, it doesn't mean there haven't been any discussions. Teams continue to make calls on a daily basis to see what players are available and if anything is going to shake loose before the real NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27.

"It's hard because there's so many teams that are bunched, it's early," Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said yesterday. "On top of that, everyone is so close to the cap ... it's a function of proximity to the cap and tightness in standings."


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