Talk of the Carolina Hurricanes making changes to improve their roster, which first popped up midway through October, hasn’t gone away.
With a record of 2-4-2 between Oct. 21 and Nov. 7, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer changes may be needed to “strengthen our team.”
Rutherford was quick to point out those changes won’t be coming to his coaching staff, which naturally leads to the assumption a trade is coming.
Scoring appears to be the Hurricanes trouble spot this season. During that aforementioned eight game stretch, they scored 18 goals, a little more than 2.3 per game.
Canes captain Eric Staal has just five points in 15 games, only one of those coming at even strength. He’s been playing with Jeff Skinner on his left side and Chad LaRose on the right, but LaRose isn’t suited for first line duty.
Rutherford also suggested the return of left winger Jussi Jokinen from a leg injury should help, but it appears he’s not content to wait for that. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, responding to an e-mail from a Hurricanes fan, claimed Rutherford was “chatting up the trade phone lines” in search of a deal.
The Hurricanes could try to shop a defenseman to bring in a scoring forward. There had been talk early in the season about Joni Pitkanen being available, but nothing came from it.
Bryan Allen, who is an unrestricted free agent next summer, has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate. Teams interested in adding size to their defense might give the 6-foot-5, 226-pound Allen some consideration, but on his own he won’t be enough to bring the Hurricanes another reliable scoring forward.
KREJCI CALMS TRADE TALK
The opening-month struggles of the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins led to early speculation management is considering shaking things up with a trade.
One player suggested as a trade candidate was center David Krejci, who was sidelined for three games in mid-October and managed only one point in the seven games he appeared in that month.
Krejci, usually a slow starter, was expected to fill the first line center role vacated by Marc Savard, who’s out for the season with post-concussion symptoms. The Czech is also in the final year of his contract and will become a restricted free agent next summer.
The Bruins and Krejci, however, have turned things around of late, with the 25-year-old netting two, three-point games in victories over Toronto and the NY Islanders.
As a result, the trade talk around Krejci has died down “for now,” but he’ll have to keep up his strong play throughout the season to silence the rumors once and for all.
SCOTT CLEMMENSEN AND THE GOALIE MARKET
Scott Clemmensen’s return from knee surgery forced the Florida Panthers to demote promising young netminder Jacob Markstrom to the minors earlier this week.
It’s possible, however, Markstrom will return to the Panthers later this season.
Ira Winderman of Sun-Sentinel.com suggested the move provides them an opportunity to showcase Clemmensen for a trade.
GM Dale Tallon wouldn’t rule out a return of Markstrom. “It depends on injury, obviously, and/or a trade,” Tallon told Winderman. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Clemmensen is in the final year of a deal paying him a cap hit of $1.2 million per season, which would make him enticing for teams seeking an experienced backup.
Craig Custance of ESPN.com suggested Clemmensen won’t be the only goalie available in the trade market in the coming weeks
Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks and Jonathan Bernier of the L.A. Kings remain two high-end possibilities, though Custance pointed out teams would have to part with “serious assets” to land one or the other.
Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild was another option Custance suggested, claiming GM Chuck Fletcher isn’t actively shopping Harding, but is “always open to a traditional ‘hockey trade’ which helps both teams.”
The Canucks and Kings aren’t shopping Schneider and Bernier and it’ll either take a mind-blowing offer, or a serious decline in the standings, for either team to part with them.
Harding currently has a terrific record (4-0-1, 1.18 GAA, .965 SP), but his lengthy injury history will make potential suitors leery of dealing for him at this time.
Custance also claimed the N.Y. Islanders are showcasing Evgeni Nabokov. While Nabokov comes with a very affordable ($570,000) salary, the rumored asking price of a second round pick was considered too expensive.
Still, there’s speculation he could be joining the Toronto Maple Leafs. Chris Botta of the New York Times recently tweeted Leafs coach Ron Wilson “could be reunited” with Nabokov, whom he coached from 2002-2008 with the San Joe Sharks.
Botta wondered if the Isles would be willing to deal within the conference again for a draft pick or “iffy prospect.”
With the Leafs struggling of late, in large part because of the shaky goaltending of backup Jonas Gustavsson and call-up Ben Scrivens, they might be willing to give Nabokov, or another veteran netminder, serious consideration.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.