Looking at Anton Khudobin and Carolina’s search for a defenseman; Michael Del Zotto, who has been popping up in the rumor mill; and what Nashville needs to get back into the playoff picture.
Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged the imminent return of Anton Khudobin created a logjam in goal behind starter Cam Ward, but the GM has no intention of placing Khudobin or call-up Justin Peters on waivers. He also admitted to receiving calls about his goalies, suggesting a trade could be coming soon.
Rutherford is believed to be shopping for a puck-moving blueliner to replace Joni Pitkanen, who’s out for the season with a heel injury. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed the Hurricanes GM had interest in Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto. Forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty, along with physical defenseman Tim Gleason, are also considered potential trade candidates.
The Hurricanes have won five of their past nine games to move within striking distance of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman suggested the recent improvement might force Rutherford to hold off on shaking things up. He could decide to carry three goaltenders for the time being until a better opportunity arises to move Khudobin or Peters.
The New York Islanders are shopping for a goalie and likely have Rutherford’s number on speed dial.
DEL ZOTTO’S CLOUDY FUTURE IN NEW YORK
Del Zotto remains a frequent topic of trade speculation, but the club’s rumored asking price of a top-four defenseman seems to be scaring off potential suitors.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported the Colorado Avalanche were linked to Del Zotto and Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov. While acknowledging the club’s need to bolster its blueline following Jan Hejda’s leg injury (sprained knee), Dater called upon Avs management not to mortgage its future in pursuit of a defenseman.
A recent injury to Rangers blueliner Marc Staal also affected Del Zotto’s trade status. Staal suffered a concussion during a recent game against New Jersey when Devils forward Reid Boucher hit him in the chin with his shoulder. If Staal is sidelined for an extended period, Del Zotto could come off the trade block.
IS BARRY TROTZ ON THE FIRING LINE?
A recent skid has put the Nashville Predators nine points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. With their playoff hopes fading, there’s talk coach Barry Trotz could lose his job.
The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper acknowledged “Trotz’s Teflon is probably wearing thinner” but noted the losing skid coincided with injuries to stars Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber.
In November, the Predators were reportedly in the market for a goaltender, but the play of rookie Marek Mazanec has provided an in-house option until Rinne’s return. Cooper claimed the Predators’ real problem is a lack of offense, noting they entered this week ranked 26th overall in goals-per-game. They’re currently 25th.
Cooper suggested the Predators consider a “rent-a-player” option with the Buffalo Sabres for left winger Matt Moulson, who’s been close to a point-per-game player in the past and is eligible for UFA status at season’s end.
The Sabres acquired Moulson earlier this season in the deal that shipped Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders and they’re expected to move him before the trade deadline. If the Predators pursue him, the asking price could include a promising young player and either a draft pick or prospect.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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