Rene Bourque has recorded back-to-back 27-goal seasons and notched 50 points in 2010-11. (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)
TSN's Darren Dreger reported Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster wasn't going to simply wait for his club to play its way out of an early season funk and with 12 players on Calgary’s roster eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, changes will be coming if the team doesn’t improve soon.
Dreger claimed teams had interest in Flames left winger Rene Bourque, who the Flames GM hasn't declared off-limits.
Calgary Sun columnist Steve MacFarlane followed up by reporting Feaster had declined to comment on trade rumors regarding his players, saying he learned his lesson from speaking out last season when team captain Jarome Iginla's name was kicked around the rumor mill.
Still, MacFarlane suggested Feaster wouldn't be doing his job if he wasn’t at least listening to offers that would improve his team. In the past he’s stated anyone other than Iginla, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, defenseman Mark Giordano and left winger Curtis Glencross is considered fair game.
MacFarlane pointed out Bourque has a modified no-trade clause, in which he can either provide Feaster with a list of teams he's willing to be dealt to or a list of teams he would not agree to move to without written consent.
Rest assured, Feaster won't move the 29-year-old Bourque, who has consecutive 27-goal seasons on his resume, for draft picks or prospects. Feaster will want a return that can help his team now, such as another top-six forward.
Just because there's interest in Bourque, doesn't mean Feaster is in a rush to move him. Bourque has five seasons left on his contract at an average cap hit of $3.33 million, so much will depend on how well he performs, as well as the Flames’ placement in the standings. If they're jockeying for a playoff berth throughout the season, Bourque will stay put.
RUUTU AVAILABLE FROM HURRICANES?
Another player Dreger reported as available is Carolina Hurricanes right winger Tuomo Ruutu, who will be eligible for UFA status next summer. At a current cap hit of $3.8 million, the cost-conscious Hurricanes will be in tough to re-sign him.
Ruutu, 28, is a physical player who netted a career-high 57 points in 82 games last season and his style of play will make him a valuable commodity on the trade market.
However, the Hurricanes are off to a decent start and GM Jim Rutherford isn't under any pressure to ship out anyone at this time, especially a top-six forward. Given the perceived lack of scoring depth up front, Rutherford would want at least a player of equal talent in return.
LATEST BLUE JACKETS RUMORS
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets have received inquiries about Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard, but with center Jeff Carter sidelined with a foot injury, a source told LeBrun no deals were imminent “as of Tuesday.”
That was subsequently supported by Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who confirmed he'd received trade inquiries, but wasn't close to making a deal at this time.
Now, this could all change when Carter returns, but if Brassard and Vermette play well in his absence and help the Jackets turn around their lacklustre start, there won't be a need to move either.
LIGHTNING LOOK TO LAND DEFENSE
LeBrun also reported the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to upgrade their defense by adding a top-four blueliner.
The Bolts gave up 24 goals in their first six games and one reason for that subpar total is the absence of veteran blueliner Mattias Ohlund, who is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after having both knees scoped.
But as LeBrun pointed out, top-four defensemen are a scarce commodity and he's uncertain what the Lightning would be willing to part with to land one.
If GM Steve Yzerman was willing to consider the UFA market, Bryan McCabe is still available. He and his family live in Florida so he’d likely be delighted to join the strong Bolts, though it's doubtful he'd adequately address their need to improve defensive play.
Another potential trade partner are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have blueline depth and are reportedly in the market for a top-six forward, though the Lightning don't appear to have any to spare.
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.