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Rumor Roundup: Gaborik, Havlat trade buzz

Marian Gaborik (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Marian Gaborik (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired right winger Marian Gaborik last season from the New York Rangers, they hoped he would replace Rick Nash, whom the previous management had dealt to the Rangers.

Currently sidelined four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee, Gaborik has managed only eight goals in 29 games with the Blue Jackets. He’s also in the final year of his contract, earning $7.5 million. Earlier in the season he was reportedly willing to re-sign, but his knee sprain should make Jackets management leery about a long-term investment in a scorer with a history of injury problems.

Gaborik’s performance prior to his injury prompted questions about his future with the club. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline took to Twitter to express his doubts about the Blue Jackets re-signing him, speculating they could move him by the March trade deadline “or sooner.”

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal also doesn’t believe the Blue Jackets will invest another four or five years at $6 million per season on the 31-year-old winger.

Despite his injury woes, Gaborik would be attractive to clubs like the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks in need of a short-term scoring fix. If the Blue Jackets shop him before the trade deadline, they’ll have to absorb part of his remaining salary and keep their asking price reasonable. His no-trade clause also complicates things, though he did waive it last season to go to Columbus.

In other Blue Jackets news, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported they dispatched three scouts to Chicago to take in the recent Blackhawks tilt against the Edmonton Oilers. He noted the Oilers had interest in defenseman Nikita Nikitin, with the Blue Jackets seeking speed in return.

San Jose Sharks winger Martin Havlat is another oft-injured scorer who could hit the trade block.

The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan cited a source claiming Senators GM Bryan Murray spoke to the Sharks about Havlat, who spent five seasons in Ottawa until he was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2006. Brennan reported the New York Rangers were also interested in Havlat, but Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasn’t willing to give up on him just yet.

Havlat recently recovered from a pelvis injury suffered late last season. Brennan noted the 32-year-old right winger is productive when healthy, citing his 77-points in 81 games with the Blackhawks in 2008-09. He also had two decent seasons (54 and 62 points) after signing with the Minnesota Wild in 2009 and he’s netted 50-or-more points seven times in his career.

Unfortunately, Havlat has just five seasons where he’s played 72-or-more games and has another season left on his contract at a cap hit of $5 million. The Sharks will have to absorb some of that salary to move him to a budget-conscious club like the Senators or one with limited cap space like the Rangers.

Havlat has a no-movement clause, but Brennan believes he’d waive it to return to Ottawa. His agent, Allan Walsh, claims no one has approached Havlat about a trade, adding his client is happy in San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson declined to comment on the rumors.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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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