Updates on Cam Ward, Dustin Byfuglien, Dan Boyle and Matt Bartkowski.

Hurricanes could face a decision on Cam Ward.

Hurricanes could face a decision on Cam Ward.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke DeCock reports Anton Khudobin’s play this season raises serious questions about the club’s goaltending. He wonders if the younger, more affordable Khudobin (who’ll be a UFA this summer) might be a better long-term option than the older, more expensive starter Cam Ward, who also has an injury history. DeCock said it’s not a decision the Hurricanes must make now but they’ll have to think about it soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also the reason why Ward’s name has popped up so often of late in the rumor mill. The ‘Canes won’t shop Ward now, and it’s widely believed if they must eventually move a goalie this season it won’t be him. Still, there’s talk the Hurricanes could consider trading Ward this summer. He has a no-trade clause, which puts him in control of the situation, particularly when it comes to destinations. A strong performance by Khudobin, especially if he helps them reach the playoffs, could be a determining factor in their decision. GM Jim Rutherford seems reluctant to part with Ward but I daresay he’ll be willing to listen to offers this summer, when teams will have more cap space and willingness to spend.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance wrote a feature on Dustin Byfuglien, with his former teammate Kris Versteeg staunchly defending “Big Buff”. Despite the Jets recent improvement under new coach Paul Maurice, making up ground in the standings to reach the playoffs is daunting. If management decides to make a move before the trade deadline, Byfuglien seems the likely trade candidate.  If the Jets want futures back for Byfuglien, that will make him attractive in the trade market. If they wants players, that could dampen his trade value. Byfuglien also holds a modified no-trade clause in which he lists five teams he won’t accept being dealt to.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best time to move an expensive player like Byfuglien will be this summer, for the same reasons as I noted for Cam Ward. They’ll get a better return this summer than they will at the trade deadline.

CSNBAYAREA.COM/MERCURYNEWS.COM: Kevin Kurz reports San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle expressed happiness over the club’s re-signings yesterday of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, but has nothing to report regarding his contract talks with the club. David Pollak reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson acknowledged Boyle’s age (37) puts him in a different situation but talks are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem is Boyle falls under the “over-35” rule, meaning his salary counts against the cap if demoted, bought out or if he retires before his contract expires. My guess is the Sharks are seeking at most a two-year offer for Boyle.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski could be a trade chip if the club decides to shop for a short-term replacement for the injured Dennis Seidenberg. Haggerty claims the Senators’ Chris Phillips and the Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald continue to top the Bruins wish list but it remains to be seen if either player will be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why MacDonald’s name is appearing in Bruins trade rumors, as he’s reportedly seeking $5 million per season to re-sign with the Isles, who obviously won’t pay him that much. If they fall out of playoff contention MacDonald could be dealt at the trade deadline. I don’t understand the fixation on Phillips. Yes, I know Peter Chiarelli has ties with the Senators organization, but they’re not shopping Phillips, especially now that they’re in the thick of the playoff chase.