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Rumor Roundup: new homes for Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller and Dmitry Kulikov?

In today’s recap of NHL rumors, we look at Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and more.

As the Buffalo Sabres continue to lurch through the season, goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the club remains a subject of constant conjecture.

Jean-Francois Chaumont of TVA Sports reports the 33-year-old Miller lacks the patience to go through another Sabres rebuild. Still, he hasn’t requested a trade, preferring to see the club’s direction by February or March before considering his options.

It’s widely anticipated the Sabres will shop Miller, either before the Olympic trade freeze (February 7 – 23) or by the March 5 trade deadline.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman wonders if Miller could end up with the Anaheim Ducks, believing they might lack full confidence in starter Jonas Hiller. He notes backup Viktor Fasth is plagued by injuries while call-up Frederik Andersen might not be ready for a club which that has “lofty goals” this season.

Hiller’s unrestricted free agent status in July is another reason for his frequent appearance in the rumor mill. Bringing in Miller – also a UFA at season’s end – would certainly be a bold move, but ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun believes Fasth’s latest injury could force the Ducks to retain Hiller for the time being.

Del Zotto on the block?

The New York Islanders search for a defenseman and the Rangers need to move Michael Del Zotto led Newsday’s Arthur Staple to suggest a rare trade between the two clubs, with the 23-year-old blueliner going to Long Island.

Del Zotto was relegated to the press box during the Rangers 5-2 win on Wednesday over the Florida Panthers, marking the fourth time in seven games he’s been a healthy scratch. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports the young defenseman only remains a Ranger because they’ve yet to receive a decent offer for him.

Staple considers the puck-moving Del Zotto a perfect fit on the Islanders’ depleted blueline, but acknowledges the difficulty for the long-time rivals to make a deal. The Rangers reported asking price of a defenseman is another obstacle, but Staple wonders if the Rangers would consider moving Del Zotto for an Islanders forward and look elsewhere for a blueliner.

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It’s an interesting scenario but unlikely to happen, as Rangers management undoubtedly prefers shipping Del Zotto to a club not so close to their own back yard.

Kulikov in New York?

The Rangers and Islanders could have interest in Florida Panthers’ blueliner Dmitry Kulikov, whose name keeps popping up in trade chatter.

Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov reports Kulikov, a restricted free agent at season’s end, admits he’s struggled this season but insists he’s still happy playing with the Panthers. As for the trade rumors, Fialkov cites a team source claiming they weren’t actively shopping him.

That doesn’t mean they’re not getting offers for the 23-year-old Russian. Panthers GM Dale Tallon made a significant trade earlier this season by shipping winger Kris Versteeg to Chicago and hasn’t ruled out future moves.

No love for Orlov

Only two days after Washington Capitals winger Martin Erat requested a trade, little-used defenseman Dmitry Orlov made a similar request through his agent, Mark Gandler.

CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley reports Orlov was called up five times this season but never played, largely due to a clause in his contract allowing him to play in the KHL if he’s on the Capitals roster less than 30 days before January 1. So far, he’s spent 19 days with the Capitals, solely as a practice player. Gandler claims Capitals coach Adam Oates doesn’t like his client’s game and believes the young defenseman has no future in Washington.

Erat’s struggles and $4.5-million cap hit makes him difficult to move on his own, but the Capitals could attract more suitors if he were packaged with the promising Orlov.

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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