• The recent struggles of the Anaheim Ducks led some observers to wonder if the club will even make the playoffs this season, resulting in talk of potential player movement to save their season.
Defenseman Chris Pronger has been frequently mentioned as possible trade bait should the Ducks fall out of the playoff chase by the trade deadline. A recent report in the Ottawa Sun suggested Toronto Maple Leafs GM – and former Ducks GM – Brian Burke might try to land him.
It was Burke who brought Pronger to Anaheim in the summer of 2006 and the big blueliner became a key component in the Ducks' Stanley Cup run in 2007.
One problem with this rumor is Pronger is the only Ducks defenseman under contract for next season. The rest are restricted or, like Scott Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin and Steve Montador, unrestricted free agents.
Given the uncertainty over the future makeup of their defense corps, it wouldn’t make much sense for the Ducks to move Pronger.
• With the St. Louis Blues’ playoff hopes fading fast there’s talk they might consider shopping veteran forward Keith Tkachuk.
Currently in the final year of his contract, the 36-year-old Tkachuk has 15 goals and 31 points in 44 games; numbers sure to attract attention from playoff-bound teams looking for an experienced scoring left winger.
The Blues traded Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers two years ago, but he subsequently returned in the summer of 2007 in another swap.
While playing for a Stanley Cup contender might still be enticing for Tkachuk, he recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he enjoyed playing in St. Louis and wasn’t certain if he’d agree to a trade this time around.
Tkachuk holds a no-trade clause, so the final decision on where he finishes this season rests with him.
• Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier and Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester remain at the forefront of trade chatter in the media and the blogosphere, but there’s no guarantee either guy will be changing addresses by the March 4 trade deadline.
Lecavalier and Lightning GM Brian Lawton continued to dismiss trade rumors during the recent all-star weekend in Montreal.
One still gets the sense some teams have contacted Lawton about the Lightning captain. But the bottom line is he comes with an expensive 11-year contract and an expensive asking price, one that could prove too rich for the potentially interested clubs.
As for Bouwmeester, he and Panthers GM Jacques Martin remain coy about the defenseman’s future. But if the Panthers are still in the playoff race by March 4 it’s quite likely Martin will hang onto Bouwmeester and risk losing him for nothing this summer, so he can help Florida nail down its first post-season berth in nine years.
• The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported this weekend that the price of re-signing goaltender Niklas Backstrom could prove too rich for the Minnesota Wild.
Backstrom is an unrestricted free agent this summer and should he test the market, could land a multi-year deal worth more than $6 million per season. The silence coming from the Wild regarding Backstrom’s contract status is bound to stoke trade speculation as March 4 approaches, particularly if the Wild is out of the playoff race by that point.
The Wild has a capable netminder in Josh Harding who could probably fill Backstrom’s skates, but losing the Finn could cost the club at the gate.
Wild fans have already seen Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston leave town via free agency and Marian Gaborik is all but assured of doing the same this summer. Losing Backstrom would send the wrong message to Wild fans that the team is unwilling to pay to keep its best players.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.