The New York Rangers began this season considered by some to be a Stanley Cup contender, but their recent performance suggests they'll be lucky just to clinch a playoff berth.
Entering Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers were ninth overall in the Eastern Conference with 22 points.
One reason behind their struggles is their anaemic scoring. Despite the presence of offensive stars like Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, the Rangers began this week ranked 24th in goals-per-game (2.45).
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Rangers GM Glen Sather isn't pleased with his club's inconsistency, creating speculation he could soon shake up his roster.
Garrioch claims there's talk Sather could put Gaborik on the trade block. During a recent Rangers-Montreal Canadiens game, the winger's poor play got him benched in the third period.
Gaborik has one year (at $7.5 million) left on his contract, which contains a no-trade clause. With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season, most clubs would balk at picking up his salary.
Despite Gaborik's inconsistency this season, he remains second only to Nash in points among Rangers and leads them in goals. For a club struggling to score, shopping Gaborik doesn't make much sense.
BRIERE HAPPY TO STAY IN PHILADELPHIA
Daniel Briere wants to remain a Philadelphia Flyer, but that hasn't put an end to the trade rumors swirling about him lately.
Sportsnet's Brian Lawton claimed the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes would be very interested in Briere. This comes on the heels of speculation the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues were also looking at the 35-year-old.
Briere began his NHL career with the Coyotes, but the constant uncertainty over their future in Phoenix rules them out as a serious candidate for his services.
Though some observers believe Briere might waive his no-movement clause to play for a Stanley Cup contender, he was quite insistent about his desire to stay with the Flyers.
BERNIER SURFACES AS BUFFALO INTEREST
Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News believes the Sabres should check into the availability of Los Angeles Kings backup Jonathan Bernier.
While acknowledging the Kings aren't in any hurry to move Bernier, Gleason noted their blueline depth has suffered with Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene sidelined by injury. He wrote, “the Sabres have too many defensemen, need a dependable backup and must consider life after Ryan Miller.”
As the Kings jockey for a playoff berth, they could certainly use more blueline depth, but would be reluctant to use Bernier as trade bait. He's been an invaluable backup to Jonathan Quick and moving him would leave the Kings in a bad place if anything happened to their starter.
If the Sabres are considering a future without Miller, it would be worthwhile to pursue Bernier in the off-season. He's due to become a restricted free agent, which could make the Kings amenable to moving him.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).