Kevin Bieksa has been at the center of trade speculation since last summer. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Before the Washington Capitals shipped left winger Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Scott Hannan, there was speculation tying the Capitals and Fleischmann to Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa.
Bieksa has exceeded the 40-point mark twice in his five NHL seasons, but his numbers are down this season – he’s recorded a mere four points in 21 games. He’s currently fighting off a bout of pneumonia and told the Vancouver Province he wasn’t concerned about rumors.
If the Canucks do decide to move Bieksa, it likely won’t happen until close to the Feb. 28 trade deadline - and then only if oft-injured defenseman Sami Salo has rejoined the club and no other notable Vancouver defensemen are sidelined.
Bieksa’s offensive production may be down this season, but he still provides the Canucks with experienced blueline depth, something they can’t afford to deal away at the present time.
KINGS NEED “GAME-BREAKER”
Another team linked to Fleischmann was the Los Angeles Kings, whose recent offensive struggles - 15 goals scored in the past eight games - resulted in a slide down the Western Conference standings.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times suggested the Kings need to acquire a “game-breaker” if they’re to follow the Chicago Blackhawks’ path to the Stanley Cup this season.
Fleischmann obviously isn’t the type of forward the Kings need, but given their current struggles, they need something to provide a boost.
However, a trade at this point in the season for a “game-breaker” will prove difficult since too many teams still have too little cap flexibility or willingness to make a major move two months into the season.
The earliest such a move is likely to be made is late-January - until then, the Kings will have to look within to address their current slump.
BRUINS JUGGLE SALARY CAP
Earlier this week, the Boston Bruins cleared salary cap space, in anticipation of Marc Savard’s return from long-term injury status, by trading defenseman Matt Hunwick - and his $1.45 million cap hit - to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for blueline prospect Colby Cohen, who was promptly shipped to the Bruins’ American League affiliate in Providence.
However, GM Peter Chiarelli will still need to free up more space when injured left winger Marco Sturm returns from LTIR in late December.
ESPN.com’s James Murphy cited multiple sources claiming Chiarelli is shopping right winger Michael Ryder, but hasn’t found a club willing to take on his $4 million cap hit.
Another Bruin who is a candidate to be moved is left winger Daniel Paille, though Murphy noted trading him would still leave Chiarelli with more than $2.2 million in cap space to clear.
With the Dec. 19 holiday roster freeze approaching, Chiarelli will try again to drum up interest in Ryder. Demotions are also a possibility if a cost-cutting trade cannot be found. For now, the Bruins GM still has some time on his side and has indicated he has several options to consider.
BLUE JACKETS NEED HELP ON THE POWER PLAY
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is pleased with the overall performance of his club so far this season, although he acknowledged the power play, ranked 28th in the NHL, needs improvement.
The Jackets’ woeful man advantage is the basis of recent speculation Howson is in the market for a puck-moving defenseman, but he told the Columbus Dispatch there were no imminent deals and he had no intention of acquiring a power play specialist.
Howson’s comments countered recent media conjecture linking the Blue Jackets with Ottawa’s Chris Campoli and unrestricted free agent Marc-Andre Bergeron.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.