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Rumor Roundup: If Avalanche can't sign Barrie, watch for trade talk to heat up

The Vancouver Canucks could make a pitch for the Avs blueliner, perhaps by offering up forward Jake Virtanen as part of the return.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

A month ago, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman speculated over defenseman Tyson Barrie's future with the Colorado Avalanche. Barrie, 24, is slated to become a restricted free agent in July. He's currently earning $3.2 million in actual salary ($2.6-million cap hit) and possesses salary arbitration rights.

Though Friedman said he has no evidence of Barrie on the trade block, he claimed several teams were keeping an eye on the blueliner's status. If the Avalanche have difficulty getting Barrie under contract, perhaps they'll consider trading him.

In his Dec. 15 “30 Thoughts' column, Friedman revisited Barrie's status. If the Avs can't or won't re-sign the blueliner, he wonders if the Vancouver Canucks could make a pitch for him, perhaps by offering up forward Jake Virtanen as part of the return.

Friedman believes the Canucks badly need a defenseman. However, trading away a promising youngster like Virtanen seems a short-sighted move for this rebuilding club. There's also no guarantee Barrie re-signs a long-term deal with the Canucks.

Given the Avalanche lost Paul Stastny to free agency two years ago and traded Ryan O'Reilly to Buffalo last summer, having another key player depart sends the wrong message to their fans. Re-signing Barrie could be expensive (perhaps just under $6-million annually), but odds are the Avs will get it done.

The ongoing woes of the Anaheim Ducks continue to provide grist for the rumor mill. Despite being last in the Pacific Division, the Ducks are only a handful of points out of playoff contention. Friedman is sure GM Bob Murray is shopping around for help.

Lack of offense is the Ducks biggest issue. Sitting last in the league in goals-for per game, they must boost their production or risk falling completely out of playoff contention.

The Ducks carry depth in skilled defensemen, prompting speculation Murray could use one of them as trade bait for a scoring forward. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch observes Sami Vatanen is the latest to surface in trade chatter, but Garrioch claims the Ducks aren't shopping him. Earlier this season, Cam Fowler was also suggested as a trade option.

Unless Murray can find a deal before the league's upcoming holiday trade freeze (Dec. 19-27), he'll have to wait until sometime in the New Year to address his problems. But if the Ducks fail to gain traction in the standings, such a move could come too late to save their season.

Speaking of the approaching holiday freeze, Garrioch believes the time is now for Senators GM Bryan Murray to make a trade. While Garrioch acknowledges the trade market is soft, he feels the Senators need some help as they entered a crucial part of their schedule.

Murray last week told reporters he's had some trade talks with several teams but can't find a fit. Garrioch claims there are teams interested in struggling Senators defensemen Patrick Wiercioch and Jared Cowan, but Murray has to get a return that helps his club.

The inconsistent play of Wiercioch, 25, and Cowen, 24, remains a constant source of frustration. Of the pair, the 6'5”, 228-pound Cowen is the biggest disappointment. The ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, he's failed to play up to expectations as a physical all-around defender. Wiercioch (6'5”, 208 pounds) tends to be a streaky performer.

Of the two, Wiercioch's contract could be easiest to move. He's a restricted free agent next summer with a $2-million cap hit this season. Cowen, meanwhile, is signed through 2016-17 with a $3.1-million annual average salary.

Landing a return for either guy that helps the Senators now seems unlikely. Murray's in the market for a top-six forward, but dangling one or two struggling defensemen won't generate much excitement in the trade market.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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