The Dallas Stars acquisition of goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the Atlanta Thrashers is a clear indicator Marty Turco’s days with the Stars are numbered. It’s not a question of if, but when.
Early speculation had the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks as potential destinations, although their respective cap constraints make such a move difficult.
The uncertainty over Ray Emery’s health is the basis for the Turco-to-Flyers speculation, but they would have to send nearly $5 million in salary back to Dallas to make Turco, a UFA this summer, fit under the cap.
That’s probably not feasible for the cost-conscious Stars. Team owner Tom Hicks recently said the club would remain on a tight budget, which will likely prevent them from taking on expensive contracts via trade or free agency.
According to capgeek.com, the Stars will finish the season with a cap hit around $50 million and currently have $33 million committed to 11 players for 2010-11.
While rumors persist the Blackhawks are looking for a goaltender, recent reports suggest they are targeting the Anaheim Ducks for blueline depth and roster toughness.
The Chicago Daily Herald reported team sources claimed GM Stan Bowman was in talks with the Ducks over the possibility of re-acquiring former Blackhawks defenseman James Wisniewski and might have inquired into the availability of enforcer George Parros.
The reports suggest Cam Barker might be offered up in return for Wisniewski, who’s a restricted free agent at season’s end. Barker’s earning just more than $3 million this season, while Wisniewski’s cap hit is $2.75 million, so the dollars would fit for this season.
Given the Blackhawks’ salary cap issues for next season, they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Wisniewski without shipping out more salary, but such a move would clear Barker’s three-year contract from their books.
• The hockey world received a surprise earlier this week when Bob Gainey stepped down as GM of the Canadiens, handing the reins over to assistant Pierre Gauthier.
That move led some to wonder what impact this could have on the Habs potential player moves before the March trade deadline, specifically the trade status of goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price.
Gauthier suggested during the press conference announcing his promotion that he intended on going forward this season with both Halak and Price, but rumors persist one might be moved.
Given how well Halak has played this season, the Canadiens aren’t likely to move him while they’re still in the playoff chase. Price has struggled, but he remains a solid insurance policy in case Halak slumps or is injured down the stretch.
Gauthier will eventually have to decide between one or the other as both are impending RFAs, but that probably won’t happen until the June entry draft.
• Ignore speculation the Boston Bruins might shop goaltender Tim Thomas. He’s carrying an expensive ($5 million per season) four-year contract with a no-trade clause, which the Bruins have not asked him to waive.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.