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Sharp, Gagne, Kaberle trade talk

Patrick Sharp had 66 points in 82 games for the Blackhawks last season and was a point-per-game player in the post-season. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Patrick Sharp had 66 points in 82 games for the Blackhawks last season and was a point-per-game player in the post-season. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks matched the four-year, $14-million offer sheet defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson received from the San Jose Sharks, but by doing so they may be forced into another salary-dumping trade.

After Hawks GM Stan Bowman announced he was retaining Hjalmarsson, numerous reports out of Chicago noted the $3.5 million per season cap hit would bite deeply into the club’s remaining cap space. This could adversely affect Bowman’s efforts to re-sign goaltender Antti Niemi and fill out the remainder of the roster.

It’s led to speculation the club will shop defenseman Brian Campbell or center Patrick Sharp in order to free up more cap space.

Bowman would probably love to move Campbell’s $7.14 million salary from his payroll, but with six more seasons and a limited “no-trade” clause it’s almost impossible to find a rival club willing to accept that kind of contract during a summer where the trade and free agent markets have been slowed in part because of salary cap constraints.

It is possible Bowman demotes Campbell along with goaltender Cristobal Huet and his $5.63 million salary, but that would be a lot of money – more than $13 million – to bury in the minors to rectify the mistakes of the previous management.

Sharp was frequently mentioned in Blackhawks trade rumors throughout June, but Bowman instead shipped out other notables like Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg, preferring to keep the versatile Sharp in the lineup.

This time, however, Bowman might not have any choice if he opts for the trade route again and shipping out Sharp would be the unkindest cut of all.

SHARKS LOOKING FOR DEFENSEMAN

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, meanwhile, is moving on from his failed attempt to sign Hjalmarsson away from Chicago.

Wilson is believed to be shopping for a veteran defenseman and while he wouldn’t specify which players he’s interested in (owing to the league’s anti-tampering rules) a report in the San Jose Mercury-News suggested Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle, Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa and the Rangers’ Marc Staal as potential targets.

The asking price for Kaberle (a top-six winger or a first round pick plus a top prospect) might be too expensive for Wilson, while the Rangers are believed reluctant to part with Staal, a restricted free agent.

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Wilson does have a recent trade history with the Canucks (having shipped Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver last summer) so perhaps there’s a fit there with Bieksa, who recently told TSN he’s fully aware he could be a trade candidate.

DEVILS LOOKING AT KABERLE?

Speaking of Kaberle, New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias told NJ.com he believes the veteran Leafs blueliner would be a great fit with the Devils.

GM Lou Lamoriello said he was still considering a few trades, but it remains to be seen if he is willing to pay what Leafs GM Brian Burke would be asking for Kaberle. 

GAGNE ON THE BLOCK IN PHILADELPHIA

The Philadelphia Flyers’ re-signing of forward Dan Carcillo earlier this week to a one-year deal pushed their payroll to nearly $2.5 million over the league’s $59.4 million salary cap, fuelling rumors veteran forward Simon Gagne will soon be shipped out to get the club back under the cap.

Gagne’s agent has been given permission to speak with other teams amidst talk the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning have interest in the 30-year-old winger.

It could take some time, however, for the Flyers to work out a trade.

Gagne has a “no-trade” clause, which significantly limits potential dance partners. He’d probably prefer going to a Stanley Cup contender, while his recent injury history and salary ($5.25 million for next season) could also prove to be stumbling blocks.

The Flyers would also want to take back very little salary in return, no easy task given the high number of teams with limited cap space this summer.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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