The Chicago Blackhawks goaltending situation remains a hot topic during the NHL’s Olympic break.
NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick recently told a Chicago radio show Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak would be better equipped than Cristobal Huet or Antti Niemi to carry the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup.
Roenick also claimed Halak wants out of Montreal due to the “(Carey) Price situation,” but appears to be basing that on a nearly three-month-old report, whereby Halak indicated to Canadiens management he’d prefer a trade if he wasn’t going to get more playing time with the Habs.
That’s clearly no longer the case as Halak has taken over the starter’s role from Price. With the Canadiens in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race because of Halak’s play, it’s highly unlikely they’ll move him now.
A Chicago radio station, meanwhile, reported a rumor that had the Blackhawks shipping goalies Huet and Corey Crawford along with left winger Kris Versteeg to the Florida Panthers for Tomas Vokoun and blueliners Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg.
While the Panthers are believed to be willing to entertain offers for pretty much everyone on their roster, this rumored deal makes no sense for them. Taking on a lesser goalie in Huet, whose contract is comparable ($5.65 million per season versus $5.7 million) to Vokoun’s, but lasts a year longer, seems ridiculous.
The Blackhawks appeared to address their defensive and salary cap needs by shipping Cam Barker to Minnesota for veteran Kim Johnsson before the Olympic break and the subsequent signing of Jassen Cullimore is a more affordable depth move for them.
• Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray is believed to be shopping around for an experienced defenseman, leading the Ottawa Citizen to speculate over his potential targets.
The paper listed Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer and Nick Boynton, Atlanta’s Pavel Kubina, Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis, Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky, Tampa Bay’s Kurtis Foster, Carolina’s Aaron Ward, Columbus’ Brendan Bell (a former Senator currently toiling on the Blue Jackets farm team) and Florida’s Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg.
It’s believed Murray would offer up a forward – perhaps a young, affordable one like Ryan Shannon – as trade bait.
Kubina and Hamhuis are probably out of Murray’s price range; the Ducks seem unwilling to move Niedermayer; the Wild are trying to re-sign Zidlicky; and the Lightning aren’t considered sellers. That leaves Boynton, Ward, Bell, Leopold and Seidenberg as potential options.
The Panthers are apparently poised for a trade deadline fire sale, so perhaps Murray’s best options lie with them.
• Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren cast no further light upon the status of goaltender Ray Emery, who’s currently nursing a hip injury.
Emery’s status has led to rumors the Flyers are looking at acquiring another goaltender, but Holmgren claims he’s comfortable with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher as his tandem if Emery remains out beyond the March 3 trade deadline.
The Flyers are hampered by limited salary cap space, meaning they won’t be able to make a move without giving up some salary in return.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.