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Fly the coop?

Lyle Richardson
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Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere has lost his starting role in Anaheim. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News

Fly the coop?

Lyle Richardson
By:

Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was busy at week’s end denying trade speculation about goaltender J-S Giguere and defenseman Scott Niedermayer.

Both attracted attention with their comments to the press earlier in the week; Giguere by sarcastically claiming he’d rather retire than be a backup in Anaheim and Niedermayer by musing to the Newark Star-Ledger on the possibility of being traded this season.

Murray quickly went into damage-control mode. He admitted discussing Giguere’s no-trade clause with the goalie and his agent, but said Giguere wasn’t being shopped and would be given the opportunity to win back the starter’s job.

The Ducks GM also addressed Niedermayer’s comments, saying the blueliner wasn’t going anywhere and would remain with Anaheim for as long as he wanted, suggesting he could retire as a Duck.

That might be the case for Niedermayer, but it’s possible Giguere will be playing elsewhere if not this season, then before his current contract expires at the end of 2010-11.

In the summer, Giguere, whose $6 million per season contract will be difficult to move, submitted a list to Murray of eight teams he’d be willing to waive his clause for, with the Toronto Maple Leafs believed to be among those teams.

The earliest Giguere would likely be dealt is the March 3 trade deadline when his salary becomes more affordable for the remainder of this season. It would also give his new club the off-season to work Giguere’s contract under the salary cap for next season.

When you factor in the medical care required for Giguere’s young son, trading him becomes even more easier said than done.

• Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is off to the best start of his NHL career with 17 points in his first 20 games, making him the Habs’ leading scorer and putting him on pace for a career-best 69-point season.

That’s led to a Canoe.ca report suggesting GM Bob Gainey faces a decision between re-signing Plekanec, who’s eligible for UFA status after this season, and shopping him while his trade value is high.

Gainey’s policy has been to not talk contracts during the season with his potential UFAs. If he were to make an exception for Plekanec, he’ll probably wait until later in the season when he’ll have a better idea of how much money he’ll have to work with next summer.

The Canadiens have more than $45 million committed to 14 players for 2010-11 and if Plekanec has a career season his asking price could be at least twice as much as his current $2.75 million salary.

For now, don’t expect Gainey to entertain thoughts of shopping the hard-working two-way center.

• Last season, Swedish forward Fabian Brunnstrom was the focus of a free agent bidding war between several NHL teams before the Dallas Stars won out. Now comes speculation he’ll hit the trade block later this season.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported league sources claim Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was getting interest in the Swedish winger.

Brunnstrom thus far has failed to play up to expectations and it’s possible Nieuwendyk will shop him for a draft pick, but, as Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News observed, the Stars’ depth on the wings probably means they aren’t in a hurry to put him on the block, but will instead teach him how to become a reliable all-around winger on a depth line.

Nieuwendyk might be getting some offers, but he’s likely going to be patient both with Brunnstrom’s development and his potential trade value.

• Chicago Blackhawks two-way center Dave Bolland has been sidelined by back surgery that’s expected to keep him out of the lineup for up to four months. That’s sparked talk management is looking for a replacement.

The Chicago Daily Herald reported Sunday Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was eyeing Carolina Hurricanes center Matt Cullen, who’s on a one-year contract worth $2.875 million.

Bowman would have to either send a comparable salary back to the Hurricanes to make room for Cullen’s contract or place Bolland on long-term injury status for the necessary cap relief.

Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford recently suggested changes could be coming to his struggling roster and it is believed he’d like to make his roster younger and faster.

Don’t be surprised if Bowman offers up a prospect or draft pick for Cullen once Bolland goes on the LTIR. 

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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Fly the coop?