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The Pittsburgh Penguins might be looking at tough guy Georges Laraque

The Canadian Press
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Coyotes Georges Laraque, left, celebrates with Steven Reinprecht after scoring. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Author: The Hockey News

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The Pittsburgh Penguins might be looking at tough guy Georges Laraque

The Canadian Press
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The Penguins are believed to be among four teams interested in the six-foot-three, 243-pound Laraque, who is under contract for US$1.1 million this season and $1.3 million next year. Laraque is expected to receive a list of the potential suitors before the deadline and would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the right team was interested, which in turn would allow the Coyotes to make a deal.

And Laraque fully expects to that to happen.

"Yes, I expect to be traded," Laraque said.

Pittsburgh doesn't have a traditional tough guy on its roster and has been criticized in some corners for not giving its young stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal enough protection.

Laraque was a healthy scratch for a 3-2 overtime win over Calgary on Thursday. He has 22 points (5-17) and 52 penalty minutes in 56 games this season.

The Coyotes, it's believed, are also willing to move veteran goalie Curtis Joseph, winger Owen Nolan and centre Kevyn Adams - all unrestricted free agents July 1.

Like Phoenix, the Columbus Blue Jackets are clear sellers and got it going Friday by shipping winger Anson Carter to Carolina for a modest price, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. That certainly pales in comparison to the first-round draft picks sacrificed in the Ladislav Nagy and Peter Forsberg trades but also may speak to the kind of season Carter was having: only 10 goals in 54 games while earning $2.5 million. He'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"It was done for one reason, to free up some ice time for our young guys to play," Jackets GM Doug MacLean told The Canadian Press. "This gives (centre) Gilbert Brule more ice time, and I can bring up some kids from the minors and give them ice, too.

"From a coach's perspective, when you've got veterans there, it's not easy if you have to start sitting them. So you'd rather move them, especially if they're not coming back next season."

Carter had 33 goals last season in Vancouver and the Hurricanes hope to recapture some of that magic.

"He's had some good years," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told CP on Friday. "He's a capable guy and he can skate, and we need him."

The defending Stanley Cup champions are without injured wingers Cory Stillman (out another week) and Erik Cole (out three-to-four weeks) and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, only one point ahead of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot and two ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We're struggling, we're just not ourselves," said Rutherford. "We needed some help and we got some."

The next rental to move out of Columbus could be defenceman Bryan Berard, an unrestricted free agent July 1 who doesn't fit into the club's future plans.

The Washington Capitals could possibly have two forwards available come Tuesday: Dainius Zubrus and Richard Zednik. Both are slated to be unrestricted free agents July 1. The Caps remain in contract talks with both players and hope to have them re-signed before the trade deadline. If they're not signed by Tuesday, they're likely gone.

Zubrus, in particular, would fetch an interesting sum even as a rental. He has 52 points (20-32) in 58 games this season.

The New Jersey Devils, meanwhile, are Cup contenders that have no wiggle room under the salary cap.

"I wouldn't look at it that the cap will determine what we do or what we don't do," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told CP on Friday. "Because if you do anything substantial, it has to involve players.

"If you substract, then you can add. And if you substract you better make sure what you're adding is better. This is a team right now, in my mind, is playing the way you'd like to see a team play. Chemistry and all of those ingredients have to go in any thought process of what you do or what you don't do."

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With files from Robin Brownlee in Edmonton.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins might be looking at tough guy Georges Laraque