Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks seek Kane replacement, Sharks have tough decision with Niemi

Lyle Richardson
By:

Patrick Kane's upper-body injury has landed him on the LTIR. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks seek Kane replacement, Sharks have tough decision with Niemi

Lyle Richardson
By:

With Chicago Blackhawks superstar winger Patrick Kane sidelined 12 weeks with a broken left clavicle, there's considerable speculation over who they'll pursue via trade to replace him. In San Jose, the Sharks are struggling with whether or not to deal UFA to be Antti Niemi.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane is out with a broken clavicle, which has spurred on speculation the Blackhawks will be dogged in pursuing someone to replace some of the winger’s production.

To be fair, there's no one in this year's trade market capable of adequately replacing Kane. At best, the Blackhawks land a decent scoring winger to fill the void until Kane's return sometime in mid-May, provided the 'Hawks get that far into the post-season.

Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports the club called up recalled Teuvo Teravainen from their farm club and placed Kane on long-term injured reserve. That provides the Blackhawks with around $6 million in cap relief to add a winger and perhaps a depth defenseman, though Lazerus notes the trade market is quickly drying up. Bowman said he's getting pretty close to making his move.

Lazerus claims the Blackhawks are “believed to be heavily interested” in Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette. Buffalo's Chris Stewart is another possibility. USA Today's Kevin Allen also includes Vermette and Stewart on his list of Blackhawks trade targets, along with Calgary's Curtis Glencross, New Jersey's Michael Ryder and Florida's Tomas Fleischmann.

Vermette and Glencross appear the best options. Vermette is a skilled two-way forward who can play center or wing and has a decent scoring touch. The oft-injured Glencross plays a physical style and is on pace to reach the 40-point mark for the fourth time in his career.

WISNIEWSKI MAKES TRADE DIFFICULT FOR BLUE JACKETS

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski is considered a trade candidate after it was revealed management recently requested a 10-team no-trade list from the 31-year-old rearguard. Wisniewski's puck-moving skills, experience and right-handed shot could make him a much-prized commodity leading up to the trade deadline.

Sportsnet's Damien Cox said the Montreal Canadiens were linked to Wisniewski, who played a half-season for the Habs in 2010-11. The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings could also use a right-handed top-four defender.

Wisniewski, however, doesn't seem keen to shed the Jackets. The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline took to Twitter claiming the blueliner's no-trade list was constructed in a way to make it harder to move him. Portzline writes the teams he will accept being dealt to have no cap room to absorb his $5.5 million annual cap hit and no requirement for offensive defensemen. Those with lots of cap space or real need for a blueliner were on the list.

It's possible this strategy could backfire on Wisniewski. Still, one has to admire how he and his agent used his no-trade list to make it more difficult for the Jackets to move him at the deadline.

TRADING NIEMI BIG DECISION FOR SHARKS

The San Jose Sharks find themselves in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03. Following Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks have only three wins in their last 10 games. With 68 points in 62 games, they are three points out of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz speculates Sharks GM Doug Wilson could ship out his pending unrestricted free agents by the trade deadline. Those include goaltender Antti Niemi, defenseman Scott Hannan and forwards Tyler Kennedy, James Sheppard and Andrew Desjardins.

Niemi's name has frequently popped up earlier this season in the rumor mill, but his chances of being dealt seemed remote. The Sharks were jockeying for playoff position and backup Alex Stalock clearly wasn't ready to take over the starter's job. As long as the Sharks stayed in contention it seemed Niemi would stay put.

Given the Sharks recent decline, however, Wilson could begin his much-anticipated roster rebuild at the trade deadline rather than waiting for the off-season. Niemi could be his best trade chip, though at best he'll likely fetch a second-round pick and a prospect. There aren't many playoff contenders seeking goaltending depth, while teams which need it are non-contenders unlikely to give up assets for a goalie they can sign via free agency in July.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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Rumor Roundup: Blackhawks seek Kane replacement, Sharks have tough decision with Niemi