Vancouver Canucks backup goaltender Cory Schneider has been a frequent subject of trade speculation this season and his performance in recent weeks has enhanced his value.
Schneider, 25, took the reins from starting goaltender from Roberto Luongo in late November, reeling off five consecutive victories before getting yanked early in Thursday's game against Nashville after giving up three goals on five shots in the first period.
His 7-4-0 record and stellar goals-against average (2.12) and save percentage (.930) indicate not only that he’s comfortable in the starter's role, but also that other teams in need of goaltending depth – like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning – may try to pry him out of Vancouver.
Schneider may be ready for a full-time starter's role, but with Luongo on the roster he won't get that opportunity in Vancouver.
But as Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province recently observed, the Canucks in the short term are happy with their current tandem and unless a rival team makes an offer too good to refuse, they're comfortable going into next spring's playoffs with Luongo and Schneider.
Schneider's situation becomes murkier beyond this season. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer, which could also make him a target for an offer sheet.
Jamieson looked at several potential scenarios for Schneider, one of which could see him dealt before he becomes an RFA to avoid an rival club pitching an unmatchable offer sheet, or perhaps trading him if he were to receive a higher than expected salary via arbitration should his negotiations go that route.
It's also possible if he went to arbitration he'd receive a one-year contract, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2013.
Schneider's negotiations with the Canucks might not even get that far. Given the considerable interest in him this season, expect the Canucks to receive numerous offers for him leading up to the June draft weekend in Pittsburgh.
DUCK OFF THE MENU
The trade chatter regarding Anaheim Ducks left winger Bobby Ryan reached a fever pitch on Wednesday, with some reports suggesting Ryan could be dealt by week's end.
A number of teams – the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes – were listed as potential suitors for the 24-year-old.
A report of Sabres GM Darcy Regier having contacted Ducks GM Bob Murray earlier in the week sparked rumors of a deal between the two sides, but Regier quickly dismissed them.
These reports, however, appeared before the Ducks announced late Wednesday the firing of Randy Caryle as coach and the hiring of his replacement Bruce Boudreau, who'd been fired by the Washington Capitals on Monday.
This move behind the bench put the brakes upon the Ryan rumor express, as Sportsnet reported Murray has told the winger he's off the trade block.
Murray could revisit the trade scenario later in the season, but it's apparent now he wants to see how the Ducks perform under Boudreau's coaching.
IGGY STILL JIGGY WITH CALGARY
The recent spate of speculation over the future of Calgary Flames right winger Jarome Iginla forced him, once again, to deny rumors he wants to be traded to a Stanley Cup contender.
Iginla recently met with the Calgary media and politely dismissed any suggestion his thoughts of staying with the Flames had wavered. He believes there are plenty of games remaining in this season for the struggling club to turn things around.
The Flames captain has displayed commendable patience in addressing the seemingly constant speculation over the last two years regarding his future. He's undoubtedly aware the media guessing game over his trade status isn't likely to disappear any time soon.
Iginla has another season at $7 million remaining on his current contract, with a full no-movement clause, giving him total control over where he plays until his contract expires on July 1, 2013.
He remains loyal to the Flames, the only NHL team he's ever played a game for. If he doesn't want to leave, even if given the opportunity to be dealt to a Cup contender, there's nothing Flames management could do about it.
If that happens, the only way Iginla could end up with another team is if Flames management decides not to re-sign him when his current contract expires, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Taking Iginla at his word, the possibility he'll be traded this season looks remote.
KABERLE CALLED OUT
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tomas Kaberle hasn't endeared himself to Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford with his subpar performance this season.
Rutherford signed the 33-year-old to a three-year, $12.75-million contract last summer, but so far this season the blueliner hasn't provided much bang for the buck (five points and a minus-13 in 26 games).
Rutherford voiced his displeasure with Kaberle's performance on Wednesday during a radio interview, saying the blueliner would have to find a way out of his slump or he wouldn't be playing with the Hurricanes for long.
Bold talk, but good luck finding takers for an underachieving defenseman with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million. Unless the Hurricanes GM is willing to swap Kaberle for another underachieving player with a bad contract, demotion could be the only way to move him out of the lineup this season.
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.