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New England claim chatter

Lyle Richardson
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Michael Ryder of the Boston Bruins is on pace for only 20 goals this season. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News

New England claim chatter

Lyle Richardson
By:

Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has reportedly been busy during the Olympic break shopping around for a post-Olympic, pre-deadline deal.

CSNNE.com cited sources claiming Chiarelli was working on a deal for a defenseman, with one source saying the target is Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis, a pending unrestricted free agent whose contract talks with the Predators are rumored to be at a standstill.

Other potential targets in the report included Anaheim’s Ryan Whitney or James Wisniewski, Edmonton’s Denis Grebeshkov or former Bruin and current Carolina Hurricane Aaron Ward.

Hamhuis might be out of the Bruins price range. It’s believed if the Predators shop him they’ll want a scoring forward in return and while Chiarelli could offer Michael Ryder, the right winger’s poor performance this season and $4 million cap hit doesn’t make him an enticing trade option.

The Ducks are only two points out of a playoff berth and might not be in a selling mood, while the Oilers would prefer moving expensive veterans like Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky or Steve Staios.

That leaves Ward, who was dealt to the Hurricanes last summer in a cost-cutting move. He was a good fit with the Bruins during his two-and-a-half-season tenure there, so a return to Beantown by the deadline isn’t out of the question.

• The Chicago Blackhawks made a notable move prior to the Olympic break in shipping Cam Barker to Minnesota for veteran blueliner Kim Johnsson and prospect defenseman Nick Leddy, but speculation persists the Hawks are shopping around for another trade.

A recent report in the Chicago Daily Herald suggested Blackhawks management has to decide if they’re comfortable with their current goaltending tandem of Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi or if there’s a better option available in the trade market – like Dallas’ Marty Turco.

Turco appears to be a tempting target given his experience, but his mediocre performance this season and the difficulty of fitting his $5.7 million salary under the Blackhawks’ already tight cap make that an unlikely possibility.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has consistently defended his goalie tandem, noting Huet and Niemi have the best combined goals-against average in the league at the Olympic break.

Still, that hasn’t stopped conflicting reports over the Blackhawks interest – real or imagined – in Turco or Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who claims he hasn’t been approached by Panthers management asking him to waive his no-movement clause.

Vokoun would be an even more problematic option for the Blackhawks as he has another season at a cap hit of $5.7 million left on his contract.

For the Blackhawks to acquire either Turco or Vokoun they would have to demote Huet or Niemi, since the former’s contract makes him untradeable and they wish to retain the latter. There’s no way Niemi would successfully clear waivers and one has to wonder how comfortable Bowman and his bosses would be with Huet collecting more than $5 million to ride the bus in the minors.

The Daily Herald also noted the Blackhawks would be interested in Scott Niedermayer should the Anaheim Ducks shop him, but given the recent acquisition of Johnsson and the signing of veteran defenseman Jassen Cullimore to a two-way contract, they’re probably done shopping for blueline depth.

• It’s believed Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero is shopping for a scoring winger during the Olympic break, but, as Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observed Sunday, the pickings might be slim.

Molinari lists Carolina’s Ray Whitney, Toronto’s Alexei Ponikarovsky and Lee Stempniak and Columbus’ Raffi Torres as the best options currently available. He also noted the asking price for Whitney could be too expensive, Ponikarovsky lacks consistency, Stempniak is weak in one-on-one battles and Torres isn’t a strong skater.

Another drawback for the Penguins is the lack of available, tradable assets. At the past two deadlines Shero showed a willingness to move some of his strong assets, but this year he might not have as much to comfortably part with, which could either keep him out of the trade market or push him toward more affordable – but less notable – options.

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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New England claim chatter