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Duck talk

Lubomir Visnovsky earns $5.6 million against the cap this season and next before becoming a UFA. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Lubomir Visnovsky earns $5.6 million against the cap this season and next before becoming a UFA. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Anaheim Ducks left winger Bobby Ryan has rallied from a slow start to this season and is on pace to reach the 30-goal mark again, but his turnaround hasn't kept his name out of the rumor mill.

Ryan recently told the Orange County Register he was “well aware” his name was being frequently mentioned in trade rumors, acknowledging it's part of the business when a team is sitting outside the playoff picture, such as the Ducks are.

He added it was “frustrating” because he felt his improved performance was good enough to dampen any speculation.

Ryan's not the only Duck being mentioned in trade chatter. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun suggested the recent signing of defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a three-year contract extension raised the possibility Lubomir Visnovsky will be available at the trade deadline.

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch, meanwhile, wrote right winger Teemu Selanne has to decide if he'll stick with the Ducks or request a trade to a Cup contender. Garrioch also claimed Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke had talks with the Ducks over center Ryan Getzlaf, but he and right winger Corey Perry aren't available (and probably never were), leaving Ryan “as the top target.”

Garrioch claimed the asking price for Ryan was “two top prospects and a top pick,” which would run counter to Ducks GM Bob Murray's earlier claim he wouldn't be simply looking to acquire draft picks on a major deal, leading to the conclusion he'd want a player of comparable talent.

Murray has also maintained he'd prefer Selanne retire a Duck, but will ultimately leave that decision to the 41-year-old veteran.

Entering this week, the Ducks are 11 points out of a playoff berth, but they're also among the league's hottest teams, winning eight of their past 10. That pace will prompt Murray to wait until closer to the trade deadline before making any decisions on a major transaction.

WHERE WILL HEMSKY CALL HOME?

As the Edmonton Oilers continue to flounder, speculation grows over when, and where, they'll trade right winger Ales Hemsky.

Sportsnet analyst Doug MacLean believes Hemsky “will most definitely be traded at the deadline,” listing Ottawa, Washington, Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose as possible destinations, while fellow analyst Nick Kypreos suggested Chicago and Pittsburgh also have interest in Hemsky.

LeBrun suggested the Nashville Predators are among the suitors, while Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal considered the Ottawa Senators a “wild card” in the Hemsky sweepstakes. He noted the Oilers desperately need a puck-moving defenseman, but doubts teams will be willing to give up much in return for a rental player.

One stumbling block in moving Hemsky is his history of shoulder injuries, which CBC's Elliotte Friedman recently indicated was a concern for Detroit GM Ken Holland.

As long as Hemsky stays healthy between now and the deadline, he'll remain “most likely to be dealt” amongst players considered as deadline trade bait. Given his declining production and concerns over his injury history, the Oilers won't get as much of a return as they would've a year ago.

Matheson also doubted veteran left winger Ryan Smyth would waive his no-trade clause at the deadline. He claimed the Oilers have long coveted Buffalo Sabres left winger Drew Stafford, but the Sabres would want a comparable player in return, which doesn’t fit into the Oilers’ plans.

HABS AND HAB-NOTS

Media expectation continues to grow that Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier will soon go into sell mode.

RDS.ca's Mario Tremblay believes defenseman Hal Gill and centers Scott Gomez and Petteri Nokelainen won't be back next season and suggested center Lars Eller could be trade bait.

It's also believed right winger Travis Moen and left winger Andrei Kostitsyn who, like Gill and Nokelainen, are free agents this summer, will be shipped out by the deadline.

Gauthier was spotted scouting Saturday's Kings-Avalanche game and since the Canadiens don't play those teams again this season, his presence at the game suggests he’s considering a move with a Western Conference club.

Kostitsyn, meanwhile, told La Presse he'd be willing to accept less than market value to re-sign with the Canadiens. That's a generous offer on Kostitsyn's part, but it remains to be seen if he still fits into their plans.

It's unlikely the 22-year-old Eller, who's made steady improvement this season, will be moved. Gill would certainly attract attention from playoff-bound teams seeking experienced depth for their defense corps, while Moen will also be of interest for teams seeking checking line depth.

Gomez's large contract and woeful offensive numbers make him untradeable, meaning he'll either be demoted to the American League next season to clear cap space, or bought out of the remaining two years of his contract.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 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 Kukla's Korner.

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