The latest on Dmitry Kulikov, the Sharks top UFAs, Martin Erat, Steve Mason, David Legwand, Jamie McGinn and more.

Dmitry Kulikov is a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.

Dmitry Kulikov is a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.

TSN.CA: Bob McKenzie claims the Panthers are aggressively shopping defenseman Dmitry Kulikov hoping to get a bidding war going for his services. Two knocks against Kulikov is his slow development and his RFA status with arbitration rights at season’s end and there’s a fear he could head to the KHL. McKenzie also noted Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford’s patience is being tested by his underachieving team. Predators center David Legwand (a UFA next summer) is seeking a new deal but no contract talks so far…Darren Dreger reports the Islanders, Canucks and Oilers are believed among the most active in trade discussions. The Isles seek depth in goal and a defenseman, the Canucks had interest in the Capitals’ Martin Erat but they aren’t a fit. He claims the Canucks still seek a top-six forward. The Oilers continue to seek a defenseman.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Sharks front office is looking forward to next week’s NHL Board of Governors meeting as that’s when they’ll have a clearer idea of what next season’s salary cap could be. That’s crucial for the Sharks, who have had ongoing contract talks with pending UFAs Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. All three want to stay and the Sharks want to keep them…The Canucks and Senators passed on Washington’s Martin Erat…A source claims the Avalanche are shopping winger Jamie McGinn for a defenseman or checking forward…In addition to shopping Kulikov, the Panthers are also believed willing to move some of their veterans forwards, like Tomas Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers last week denied actively shopping Kulikov but that may have changed since then, especially if they’re getting offers from several teams. While his RFA status next summer may be a concern, I believe there’s an NHL GM willing to gamble on him…I daresay the Predators are awaiting word of what next season’s cap numbers will be before opening talks with Legwand…Given Erat’s declining production and $4.5 million cap hit, why would anyone want this guy?…Nothing really new about the Isles, Canucks and Oilers. The reason we keep hearing so much about them is because there’s not much available in the trade market to address their respective needs right now…Regardless of the cap number for next season, I believe the Sharks will definitely re-sign Thornton and Marleau. Boyle could be the odd man out if the numbers get tight…McGinn’s an affordable option for clubs seeking forward depth, like the Canucks.

CBC.CA: Elliiotte Friedman believes the Phoenix Coyotes tried to trade Rostislav Klesla, but the large number of teams close to the cap meant they had little choice but to demote him. He feels Klesla is still trying to regain his form after taking a big hit from the Kings Jordan Nolan during the pre-season.

SUNSENTINEL.COM/NBC SPORTS: Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was a healthy scratch during their game last night against the Ottawa Senators, stoking speculation he could be traded soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers scratched him because of his recent poor play, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from anticipating a trade soon.

PHILLY.COM: Goaltender Steve Mason (a UFA next summer) hopes to re-sign with the Flyers, who also want to keep him. GM Paul Holmgren intends to speak with Mason’s agent “at some point”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mason’s among the league leaders in goals-against average and save percentage, as well as the main reason the Flyers have overcome a horrible start to get within striking distance of a playoff berth. If he continues his strong play throughout the season, the Flyers will definitely re-sign him. They won’t spend as much as they did for Ilya Bryzgalov, but I could see him getting a long-term deal worth over $5 million per season.

ESPN.COM’s Craig Custance reported via Twitter Hurricanes backup Anton Khudobin is travelling with the club, adding he and Justin Peters are attracting some trade interest.