As Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier continues the western leg of his recent scouting trip, rumors are flying back in Montreal over which players on the current Habs roster might soon be on the move.
Robert Laflamme of the Canadian Press reported defenseman P.K. Subban has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate.
The 22-year-old rearguard has struggled in his sophomore season and his undisciplined play has drawn criticism from observers like former Habs coach Jacques Martin, who suggested the young blueliner didn’t have a good understanding of the game.
Laflamme, however, expressed doubt the Canadiens would move Subban.
Several scouts he spoke to reached the same conclusion, pointing out the absence of skilled veterans like Andrei Markov on the Canadiens defense has thrust Subban into a role of increased responsibility, one he’s not fully comfortable with at this stage of his career.
Subban possesses impressive speed and skills, and with maturity he should blossom into an elite defenseman. That’s not the kind of player the Canadiens should move, unless they’re certain of getting equal or greater value in return.
Dealing away Subban only to watch him thrive elsewhere would conjure up memories of the Habs doing the same thing with John LeClair in the mid-1990s. That was a move they came to regret and they should avoid making the same mistake with Subban.
BLUESHIRTS LOOKING FOR BLUELINERS?
New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was fortunate to escape serious injury during last weekend’s game against the Boston Bruins after being on the receiving end of a blindside hit from Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference early in overtime.
McDonagh suffered no lingering effects from the hit, while Ference was assessed a game misconduct, as well as a subsequent three-game suspension from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. The Rangers went on to win the game 3-2.
The incident, however, spurred New York Post columnist Larry Brooks to call upon Rangers management to find an additional defenseman who coach John Tortorella would trust to log big minutes.
Brooks recommended Carolina’s Tim Gleason, Dallas’ Sheldon Souray and Nashville’s Ryan Suter as potential trade targets, but it remains to be seen if GM Glen Sather shares the reporter’s concern over the Rangers’ blueline depth.
Prior to McDonagh’s near-brush with injury, it was assumed if Sather went shopping near the deadline, it would be for another top-six forward. He could try to land a scoring winger and a second-pair blueliner, but that could prove a tall order.
If Sather were inclined to look for another defenseman, perhaps he should contact the Minnesota Wild.
Marek Zidlicky, a former draft pick of the Rangers, was a healthy scratch in the Wild’s 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
It was the first time he’d been scratched since joining the Wild and Michael Russo of Startribune.com believes management won’t have difficulty convincing Zidlicky to waive his no-trade clause if other clubs show interest in him by the deadline.
The Wild could find it difficult to market the 34-year-old Zidlicky, as there’s been a noticeable decline in his performance this season, plus he has another year (at $4 million) remaining on his contract.
BISHOP ODD MAN OUT?
Goaltender Brian Elliott’s new contract extension with the St. Louis Blues means there won’t be an opportunity for No. 3 goalie Ben Bishop, currently toiling with their farm team, to move up to the big club in the near future.
Unless Bishop plays in 15 more NHL games this season, he’ll become eligible for Group 6 unrestricted free agent status this summer. Unless Elliott or Jaroslav Halak is sidelined by injury, Bishop won’t get in the required number of games for the Blues to retain his rights as a restricted free agent.
That could prompt Blues management to shop him, rather than risk losing him for nothing.
He’s considered by some scouts to be “the best goaltender not in the NHL,” which could draw the interest of teams like Tampa Bay and Columbus, who desperately need goaltending depth.
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.