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Canadian clubs looking for defense

Will the Flames use Anton Babchuk as a means to acquire more grit up front? (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Will the Flames use Anton Babchuk as a means to acquire more grit up front? (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

Reports out of Ottawa earlier this week indicated Senators GM Bryan Murray would be in the market for depth on the blueline once the new NHL collective bargaining agreement was officially implemented.

Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen reported Monday a season-ending hip injury to Jared Cowen and a broken finger to Mike Lundin that would keep him out “about three to four weeks” has Murray considering a trade for a defenseman.

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch subsequently reported the agents for free agent blueliners Chris Campoli, Colin White and Milan Jurcina had been in touch with Murray.

If Murray goes the trade route, don't expect it to be a major move. Cowen and Lundin were pencilled in as the Senators’ third defense pair behind Erik Karlsson, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips and last summer's acquisition Marc Methot. Landing a depth defenseman might cost the Senators a mid-range draft pick.

Failing that, Murray could look to his farm team in Binghamton, where possible call-ups include Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch and Andre Benoit.

The Senators reportedly aren't the only Canadian team in search of depth on the blueline.

Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reported defenseman Cam Barker was trying to salvage his NHL career with a professional tryout contract with the Canucks, while free agent Jim Vandermeer's agent recently spoke with the team as well.

Prior to the Toronto Maple Leafs replacing Brian Burke as GM on Wednesday, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun noted the Maple Leafs would enter the upcoming season with Jake Gardiner still experiencing concussion symptoms resulting from a hit during an AHL game last month.

Simmons suggested the Leafs “do have forwards that can help somebody” if GM Brian Burke were inclined to pursue a defenseman via trade. One wonders if Dave Nonis (Burke's replacement) would consider moving a forward for a blueliner.

Those clubs might want to give the Calgary Flames a call.

Sportsnet's Roger Millions recently tweeted the Flames want to add some grit before the start of the season, but would need to move someone off their roster. He suggested blueliner Anton Babchuk as a trade candidate.

Babchuk has one season remaining on his contract at an affordable $2.5 million, though he does carry a no-trade clause.

Free agent center Jason Arnott was recently spotted skating with several Dallas Stars, leading Josh Lile of the “Defending Big D” blog to speculate if the Stars would sign the 38-year-old veteran.

Arnott, who played three-and-a-half seasons for the Stars from 2002-2006, is no longer the scorer he once was, but his experience and leadership could be of interest for NHL clubs lacking those attributes.

If Arnott signs with an NHL team this season, however, it won't be with the Stars.

Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News noted Arnott still lives in the Dallas area and was skating with several Stars to stay in shape during the lockout. Heika doubts the club has any interest in signing Arnott, who won't be allowed to skate with the Stars once the new CBA is made official.

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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