Rumor Roundup: Are the Predators hunting for a goalie?

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators are awaiting an update this week on the status of goaltender Pekka Rinne, who’s been sidelined for several weeks with a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip. His condition has fuelled speculation the Predators are shopping for help between the pipes.

Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch recently reported Predators GM David Poile could be interested in Anaheim Ducks starter Jonas Hiller and Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas. Both are unrestricted free agents at season’s end, making them good short-term option for the Predators. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson listed the Predators as a possible destination for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

A lower-body injury to Ducks backup Viktor Fasth means Hiller is unavailable until January, while the Panthers hope Thomas can revive their flagging playoff chances. Poile is unlikely to pursue an expensive rental player like Miller.

The Predators, meanwhile, are getting strong goaltending from rookie Marek Mazanec, who has a 5-5-1 record, 2.09 GAA, .930 SP and two shutouts.

As The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper observed, Mazanec’s performance has garnered some Calder Trophy talk. More importantly, he’s giving the Predators an in-house option until Rinne returns.

IT OTTAWA A FIT FOR DEL ZOTTO?
After being a healthy scratch in five of eight games since mid-November, New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto saw action against the Canucks on Nov. 30 and the Jets on Dec. 2. Larry Brooks of the New York Post noted two scouts from the Ottawa Senators (who recently inquired about Del Zotto) attended the Jets-Rangers game.

The Rangers could be showcasing Del Zotto for a trade, though his return to the lineup could also be part of coach Alain Vigneault’s efforts to improve a roster that dropped five of its past 10 games.

Le Journal de Montreal’s Renaud Lavoie recently took to Twitter claiming he’d heard it could take longer for the Rangers to move Del Zotto than expected.

Del Zotto’s $2.55-million cap hit would be a sticking point for the budget-conscious Senators, though owner Eugene Melnyk recently said he’d be willing to add salary if it would make a significant difference to the roster. It’s unlikely Melnyk would gamble extra money on a struggling blueliner like Del Zotto.

HURRICANES MOVES DRAW NEAR?
Keep an eye on the Carolina Hurricanes in the coming days. Defenseman Tim Gleason (lower-body injury) is expected back in the lineup later this week and TSN’s Darren Dreger believes a trade “could materialize upon his return”.

ESPN’s Craig Custance reports backup goalie Anton Khudobin (also sidelined by a lower-body injury) is travelling with the team. He claims there’s been trade interest in Khudobin and Justin Peters.

The New York Islanders are reportedly seeking help in goal and on the blueline. They could have interest in Gleason and/or one of the Hurricanes’ backups.

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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