In his Sunday “Insider Trading” column, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claimed Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is “willing to talk about just about anybody” on his roster. He claims left wing Jeff Skinner's name is making the rounds in the rumor mill. Center Riley Nash and defensemen Ron Hainsey and John-Michael Liles could also be available.
It's unsurprising that Nash and Liles were mentioned, as they're unrestricted free agents at season's end.The 34-year-old Hainsey ($2.8-million cap hit) has one season remaining on his contract with a modified no-trade clause. If the Hurricanes are out of playoff contention by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, this trio could be on the trade block.
This isn't the first time the 23-year-old Skinner's come up as a trade candidate this year. A former 30-goal scorer, he's struggled through concussion injuries and inconsistency. With only three points in his first 12 games this season, Skinner certainly isn't performing up to expectations.
However, with a $5.75 million annual cap hit through 2018-19, Skinner's unlikely to be dealt this season. If there isn't noticeable improvement in his play soon, he could prove almost impossible to trade.
Garrioch also believes Francis must make a decision soon regarding captain Eric Staal, who's eligible for UFA status in July. However, it appears both sides are letting the season unfold before resuming negotiations.
Francis doesn't have to rush into any deal right now. With a record of 5-7-0 after 12 games, the Hurricanes remain very much in the thick of the playoff chase. They'll have to tumble well out of contention before management starts shipping out players.
OILERS TRYING TO MOVE NIKITIN
The Edmonton Oilers couldn't find any takers for Nikita Nikitin when they placed the defenseman on waivers prior to the start of the season. Over a month after demoting the 29-year-old blueliner to the minors, he is attracting some attention in the trade market.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Colorado Avalanche could be among several teams who have interest in Nikitin, who's in the final season of his contract with a cap hit of $4.5 million. McKenzie said the Oilers would love to move his contract, but they could be forced to pick up part of Nikitin's salary.
It could take some time, however, before the Oilers find a taker for Nikitin. McKenzie cites work visa problems limited him to only a handful of AHL games so far.
The rumored interest in Nikitin suggests slim pickings for quality defensemen in the trade market. Of those rumored as trade candidates, some (like Tampa Bay's Matt Carle and Calgary's Dennis Wideman) carry expensive contracts beyond this season with no-trade clauses. The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly listening to trade offers for Cam Fowler, but the asking price could be steep.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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