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Bryan Murray is likely to have time on his hands when the NHL's trade deadline arrives on Monday, but he won't be watching any of the TV shows dedicated to it.

Thanks to the flurry of activity in the last few weeks by the Ottawa Senators general manager and his peers, come Monday, the NHL cupboards may look like the shelves at an electronics retailer when the doors close on Boxing Day. There could be so little action the poor folks on all those trade-deadline programs may have to break out the karaoke machine.

"I think it will be a long day [for the media]" Murray said this week. "I've got eight minor-leaguers in the lineup now. I don't think there are any more moves I can make, but who knows?"

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Among the names changing teams in recent days were James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Alex Goligoski, Dan Ellis, Alexei Kovalev and Brent Sopel. With players like Tomas Kaberle, Erik Johnson and Chris Stewart moved previously, it seems there could be precious little left for teams looking to stock up for a playoff run.

However, there are still enough intriguing names in play to give the talking heads plenty to chew over, especially since potential deals will be complicated.

The biggest star likely left is Dallas Stars centre Brad Richards, who may or may not be in play depending on the status of his concussion, his contract talks with Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk and his willingness to waive his no-movement rights and possibly sign a long-term deal with another team. Also in the barrel are New Jersey Devils centre Jason Arnott, Florida Panthers defenceman Bryan McCabe, Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, Edmonton Oilers forwards Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky and maybe even Colorado Avalanche centre Paul Stastny.

Arnott, an unrestricted free agent on July 1, said he will decide by Sunday if he is willing to waive his no-trade rights.

Other active sellers are expected to be Panthers GM Dale Tallon, Avalanche GM Greg Sherman and perhaps Devils boss Lou Lamoriello, since his team's remarkable second-half run - including eight wins in a row heading into Friday's action - is still not enough to bank on a playoff spot.

Prominent among the buyers will be Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and Philadelphia Flyers counterpart Paul Holmgren, who is looking for a depth defenceman and perhaps a veteran goaltender. Also poking around the rental market for those pending free agents will be Calgary Flames interim GM Jay Feaster, Vancouver Canucks boss Mike Gillis and the Los Angeles Kings.

Howson went from a seller to a buyer in the last two weeks, as his team pushed its way into playoff contention with a 7-2-1 run.

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Tallon has a list of players about to become unrestricted free agents: McCabe, forwards Radek Dvorak and Christopher Higgins, and goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun is the pick of the goaltending litter but he also carries a cap hit of $5.7-million (U.S.) which is a bit rich for most teams, even if it is prorated.

McCabe is the most intriguing player on the Panthers list, although he has a no-move clause in his contract and has not said publicly if he is willing to waive it. But it is fun to consider the possibility of him rejoining his old Toronto Maple Leafs blueline partner, Kaberle, in Boston with the Bruins.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More


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