Are the Penguins eyeing Jack Johnson of the Blue Jackets? Are the Blues close to signing Jason Arnott? What’s the latest on the Blackhawks, Red Wings, Flames, Wild, and Sharks? Read on to find out!

Penguins interested in Johnson?

Penguins interested in Johnson?

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Rob Rossi recently reported three members of the Columbus Blue Jackets management, including new GM Jarmo Kekalainen, took in the recent Penguins-Tampa Bay Lightning game. Rossi believes the Penguins seek to bolster their defense,” preferably with a player under contract who could serve as either a long-term partner for Kris Letang or possible insurance if Letang is traded before his contract expires in July 2014.” He speculated Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson could fit the bill, and reports Penguins young d-man Simon Despres is available.  There’s also speculation the Penguins have interest in Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace reports Kekalainen downplayed his presence at that game, and dismissed the rumor of a Despres-for-Johnson swap as “silly”. “I went to watch a game. Ray Shero (the Penguins’ general manager) is a friend of mine”, said the Blue Jackets GM, who was using an off-day to take in a game between two teams he otherwise wouldn’t see.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Kekalainen could consider moving out pending UFAs like Vaclav Prospal or Adrian Aucoin by the trade deadline, but I’ll be shocked if he actually moves Johnson, unless of course the blueliner demands a trade.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedmann once against speculates over Jay Bouwmeester’s future with the Calgary Flames, wondering if they might move him before the trade deadline and if he’d accept a trade. He also noted Bouwmeester’s salary ($6.68 million) could prove tough to move…The Florida Panthers could be a team to watch near the trade deadline, but they won’t move young players like  Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad….Marian Gaborik might (emphasis on “might”) be available near the deadline if the NY Rangers can get back depth which improves them.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks are in the market for a John Madden-type center…He speculates the Detroit Red Wings are only interested in acquiring a top-four defenseman…The Philadelphia Flyers seek a top-four, puck-moving defenseman…The Minnesota Wild could also be in the market for a defenseman, but aren’t willing to part with veterans like center Matt Cullen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings and Flyers could be potential destinations for Bouwmeester, provided they could make the dollars work, and he were willing to accept a trade…You can add Dmitry Kulikov to the list of players the Panthers won’t trade…Given the Rangers wouldn’t get back the depth to improve them by shopping Gaborik, and his $7.5 million salary for next season, I don’t expect he’ll be dealt.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has yet to open contract talks with pending UFAs Matt Cullen, Niklas Backstrom and Pierre-Marc Bouchard or pending RFAs Cal Clutterbuck, Jared Spurgeon and Justin Falk. He expects to be patient and see how things shake out over the next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, he’ll see where his club sits in the standings before deciding which (if any) of his potential free agents he could shop before the April 3 trade deadline.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy Rutherford reports Jason Arnott has passed his physical and is on a one-week tryout with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they like what they see, the injury-ravaged Blues could sign Arnott to a one-year contract.

CSN BAY AREA’s Kevin Kurz reported the following via Twitter:” Lots of Eastern Conference scouts at the game again tonight, including Boston, who some think are scouting Ryane Clowe.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hat tip to GJ Berg for the link.