The defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks entered the all-star break barely clinging to one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference, tied in points with the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, and only one point up on the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times he wouldn’t hesitate to make a trade to bolster his depth at center or defense, but pointed out he won’t be mortgaging the future in the face of pressure to follow up on last year’s championship run.
Tim Sassone of the Dailyherald.com noted that in the past Bowman didn’t wait until the trade deadline to make moves and may do the same this season. But while the Blackhawks GM suggested he wouldn’t hesitate if the right proposal presented itself over the next couple of weeks, he might have to wait until the Feb. 28 deadline for that deal to come along.
Sassone considered Blackhawks forwards Jack Skille, Viktor Stalberg and defenseman Nick Boynton as possible trade candidates, while trade targets might include pending UFA defensemen such as Montreal’s Roman Hamrlik, Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen, Florida’s Bryan McCabe and Ottawa’s Chris Phillips.
Hamrlik and Pitkanen aren’t likely to be available with their respective clubs in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. However, McCabe and Phillips could be obtainable provided they agree to waive their no-movement clauses.
GONCHAR WOULD BE TOUGH PLAYER TO MOVE
The Ottawa Sun cited league sources claiming the Senators were shopping defenseman Sergei Gonchar, but were unlikely to find many takers.
Gonchar, who turns 37 in April, has two more years and $11 million remaining on his contract plus a no-movement clause.
The Senators won’t get any cap relief by buying out his contract in June because he was over 35 when he signed. The same rule applies if Gonchar were to retire or accepted demotion to the minors.
These factors will likely keep Gonchar with the Senators for the next two seasons.
WILL RANGERS TRADE OR BE PATIENT?
The New York Rangers have been frequently mentioned as a club that could be busy at the trade deadline, but Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News recently reported they’re in no rush to make any moves before the deadline.
Spector noted injured Rangers Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are expected back in the lineup this week. Forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen and Ruslan Fedotenko should also return, possibly along with Vinny Prospal, later in February.
Having that many skilled veterans return from injury would be as good, if not better, than making trades, especially if the Rangers remain healthy.
Still, Spector pointed out the Rangers’ lack of a hard-shooting defenseman might have management considering a trade, though there currently isn’t much available on the market.
It has been suggested Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who’s been buried in the minors this season, would address that need, but if the Rangers were intrigued by Souray they probably would’ve expressed interest in claiming him off re-entry waivers by now.
FLAMES TRADE TALK SLOWS DOWN
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun dismissed the notion of the Calgary Flames trading Jarome Iginla, but suggested defenseman Robyn Regehr could be asked to waive his no-movement clause.
Flames GM Jay Feaster stated nearly a month ago he wouldn’t trade his core players, including Regehr. Given the Flames’ improvement in January – they entered the all-star break only two points out of a playoff berth – these types of trades are even less likely to happen.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.