Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks squirts water on his face during a game against the Detroit Red Wings. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
The rumor mill was abuzz last week over the possibility of Washington Capitals center Michael Nylander being dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie claimed the Blackhawks essentially had a deal in place for Nylander, but first had to find a way to free up sufficient cap space to take on his $4.875 million per season salary.
Late last Thursday the Chicago Sun-Times suggested a deal was imminent, noting defenseman Brent Sopel and forward Dustin Byfuglien were late scratches for a Blackhawks-Dallas Stars game.
Nothing came of it and Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon denied Byfuglien was ever mentioned in any trade talks. But that hasn’t stopped speculation Nylander could soon end up in Chicago.
Nylander has a “no-movement” clause, but his recent tumble down the Capitals depth chart increases the possibility he could waive it for the right team. He played for the Blackhawks from 1999 to 2002.
One player who might not be leaving the Windy City anytime soon is goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, whose strong play thus far has made him the Blackhawks’ de facto starter over off-season acquisition Cristobal Huet.
As a result, Khabibulin’s trade value has increased, making him nearly indispensable and forcing Tallon to look at other ways to dump salary in order to bring in a center like Nylander.
• A silly rumor making the rounds of late claims Minnesota Wild right winger Marian Gaborik isn’t injured at all, but is either faking it or being deliberately held out of the Wild lineup, while management shops him around the league.
Whilst his current salary and pending UFA status are potential stumbling blocks, Gaborik is far more valuable playing than sitting out. The Wild has struggled offensively recently and could use his contributions.
The conspiracy theorists should put away their tin-foil hats on this one. Gaborik is legitimately hurt – it’s believed he aggravated a nagging groin injury – and won’t be back on the ice until he’s completely healthy.
• The Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan watches continue with seemingly no end in sight.
Shanahan’s agent teased a potential conclusion to his client’s search nearly two weeks ago by claiming Shanahan was poised to sign with an NHL team, but since his status hasn’t changed.
It’s believed the Philadelphia Flyers would like to sign him, but with only around $200,000 in available cap space it’s not going to happen unless GM Paul Holmgren can dump approximately $1.2 million.
As for Sundin, he’s not expected to make a decision until mid-December. Some reports suggest he hasn’t even taken to the ice yet in his supposed training regiment in Los Angeles, his agent claims 11 teams are interested in the services of the former Leafs captain.
Among those are the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning, as GMs and team owners from those franchises met with Sundin over the past couple of weeks.
• Speaking of the Senators, GM Bryan Murray reportedly has been calling around looking for a deal that’ll improve his struggling club, but so far hasn’t found any trading partners.
Quite frankly, Murray lacks the bargaining chips in expendable players to land a quality return. Antoine Vermette, Martin Gerber and Christoph Schubert are not playing well this season and forwards Mike Fisher and Chris Neil are currently sidelined with injuries.
If Murray truly wants to shake things up he could shop center Jason Spezza, but doing so would leave a huge hole at center, plus it could be difficult during the season to find many teams willing to take on his hefty contract.
Unless Murray is willing to gamble on a Spezza trade or manages to sign Sundin there’s little he can do right now to improve his team.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays 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.