Anze Kopitar is on pace to match his career-high output from last season at 81 points. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings have been in the market for a first line left winger since last season, but it appears they're no closer to landing one now than they were at this point last year.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently addressed speculation he would shake up his struggling team via coaching change or trade by expressing his support for coach Terry Murray and claiming a trade currently wasn't a likely option as the only deals out there were more of the “tinkering type.”
Elliott suggested part of the reason Kings first line center Anze Kopitar has yet to reach his full potential is because of the absence of a creative scoring winger on his left side.
Given the current state of the trade market it appears unlikely such a winger will be available by the trade deadline, which is coming up in a little more than a month. Lombardi may have to either make due with his current lineup or strike a deal for a lesser winger.
He would then have to wait until the summer's free agent market to open, where the pickings for quality left wingers - Simon Gagne, Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Moulson and Alex Tanguay - are slim.
If a trade or unrestricted free agency fails to address that need, another option would be to present an offer sheet to a restricted free agent such as New Jersey's Zach Parise or Atlanta's Andrew Ladd.
KIPRUSOFF TRADE SPECULATION
The recent struggles of Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has led to speculation he's playing his way out of Calgary, although GM Jay Feaster is in no hurry to move him.
Feaster recalled his inability to replace Nikolai Khabibulin eventually cost him his job as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning and added he has no desire to repeat the experience with Kiprusoff, whom he considers one of the league’s top goalies.
“Kiprusoff is an elite goaltender, one of the best in the game, so if you’re contemplating moving that player, you’d better be really sure about what you have to replace that player with”, Feaster told the Calgary Sun.
Some Flames fans believe backup Henrik Karlsson is ready to take over the starting role from ‘Kipper,’ but the 27-year-old has yet to fully prove himself.
Kiprusoff’s trade status could change next season if Karlsson continues to improve, but for now it appears Feaster intends on hanging on to a proven commodity.
WILL THE OILERS TRADE PENNER AND/OR HEMSKY?
As the Edmonton Oilers struggle through yet another disappointing season, some of their fans are wondering what the future holds for veteran forwards Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.
Both have one more season remaining on their contract and it remains to be seen if they'd be willing to re-sign or if they even fit into the club's plans beyond 2012.
In response to a reader's email on the subject, Edmonton Journal reporter Jim Matheson believed much depends on what Penner and Hemsky want contract-wise beyond next season. Matheson suggested one of them could be shopped this summer if they don't see themselves as part of the club's rebuilding plan.
Another factor to consider is their salaries for next season. Penner is owed $4.25 million and Hemsky $4.1 million, which may be a little too pricey for most teams to absorb, even with the possibility of the salary cap rising to $62 million next season.
Hemsky's skills will likely make him more valuable than Penner, but his injury history will also turn off some potential suitors.
It's doubtful either will be dealt by this season's trade deadline, especially Hemsky, who's now sidelined with a concussion.
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.