The recent trade speculation involving long-time San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau took an interesting twist on Tuesday evening. CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz cites a source claiming the 36-year-old Marleau, who carries a no-movement clause in his contract, would accept being dealt to the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings.
Kurz also reports it's uncertain if Marleau is pushing for a trade or if management initiated it. He cites TSN's Bob McKenzie suggesting it's more likely Marleau asked the club to explore trade possibilities. Kurz notes Sharks GM Doug Wilson's policy is not to ask players with movement clauses to waive them.
It's doubtful Wilson will ship him to a close rival like the Kings or Ducks. Marleau's $6.66-million annual cap hit makes it very difficult to deal him to cap-strapped clubs like the Kings and Rangers. The Ducks are also operating on self-imposed cap ceiling believed to be lower than the league maximum.
Kurz reports the Rangers scouted the Sharks' last two games, though that doesn't necessarily mean they were looking at Marleau. The Blueshirts are currently atop the Metropolitan Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference standings. At this time, they have no need for a blockbuster move. If they are scouting Marleau, it could get tricky trying to make the dollars fit.
Perhaps Wilson informed Marleau of clubs with interest in his services. If so, the winger's list of preferred trade destinations could be his way of slamming the door on the recent trade chatter. Otherwise, Marleau must broaden his list of preferred trade destinations if he wants to be dealt this season.
MAPLE LEAFS LOOKING FOR GOALTENDING HELP
Speculation persists the Toronto Maple Leafs could be in the market for a goaltender. Their current tandem of Jonathan Bernier (currently sidelined by a lower-body injury) and James Reimer have a collective goals-against per game of 2.93, ranking among the league's worst.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello is seeking goaltending help and is willing to talk about anyone on his club except defenseman Morgan Rielly. Still, Lamoriello probably isn't finding any deals to his liking.
The Calgary Flames are carrying three goalies (Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio), but none of them are an improvement over Bernier and Reimer. The Minnesota Wild would love to move aging Niklas Backstrom, but his $3.416-million cap hit is as much a trade hindrance as his no-movement clause and lenghty injury history. With Frederik Andersen stellar in goal for the Anaheim Ducks, they might consider dealing backup Anton Khudobin, but only if they feel promising John Gibson is ready for full-time NHL duty.
Garrioch claims a couple of teams could be interested in Carolina Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward, though he didn't specify who they could be. Ward, 31, is an unrestricted free agent next summer and it's doubtful he has a long-term future in Carolina. However, he's also carrying a no-trade clause and a $6.3-million cap hit. If Lamoriello has interest in Ward, it's best to wait until he becomes a UFA in July. That way, he's not giving up assets like a young player or a draft pick to get him. Besides, the Hurricanes are still in the playoff chase and could be unwilling to move Ward right now.
Given Reimer's recent improvement (2-1-2 in his last five start) and Bernier's imminent return, Lamoriello could put off his search for help between the pipes. If he's seeking a long-term addition, the trade market could improve later in the season.
FLYERS' STREIT ATTRACTING ATTENTION
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit could attract considerable attention near the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Matheson suggests Streit, who turns 38 in December, would make a great No. 4 defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks if they could free up the salary-cap room. Considering his annual average salary is $5.25 million, it's unlikely the cap-strapped Blackhawks will pursue him.
Streit's performance this season, however, could make him enticing for clubs with cap space and a need for a skilled puck-moving defenseman. With eight points in 15 games, he's second among Flyers' scorers and averages almost 23 minutes of ice time per game.
At this point in the season, the struggling Flyers are probably unwilling to part with Streit. His cap hit and limited no-trade clause also makes him difficult to move right now. Even with a year remaining on his contract, Streit could indeed attract some interest near the trade deadline, especially if the Flyers are out of playoff contention by then.
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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