In today’s roundup of trade rumors from the mainstream media: There’s interest around the league in Calgary’s Rene Bourque and Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu, an update on the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Tampa Bay Lightning are shopping for blueline help, and the latest on Vancouver’s Cory Schneider.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger reports Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster isn’t going to wait for his team to play its way out of its current funk, noting the team has 12 players eligible for free agency next season, but Feaster wants to start making changes now. One name that’s been mentioned is physical winger Rene Bourque, as Dreger claims teams are interested and the Flames aren’t saying he’s off limits. Another top six forward who could be in play is Carolina Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu, who’s struggling a bit adjusting to the new rules on hitting as he doesn’t want to risk a suspension. He’s earning a cap hit of $3.8 million this season, is slated for UFA status next summer, and the cost-conscious Hurricanes probably won’t re-sign him.
Pierre LeBrun meanwhile reported the Tampa Bay Lightning are seeking a top-four defenseman, given their recent defensive woes and the loss of veteran Mattias Ohlund, who is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. The problem is such blueliners are hard to come by, and LeBrun isn’t sure what they might be willing to part with to get one. Teams are contacting the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets, making inquiries about forwards Derrick Brassard and Antoine Vermette, but LeBrun claims they’re not about to move a top-six forward when Jeff Carter is currently sidelined with a foot injury. He cited a source which claimed, as of Tuesday, no trades are imminent for the Blue Jackets, though LeBrun suspects that could change in the near future if things don’t improve soon for the Jackets. LeBrun also reported on his ESPN blog the Vancouver Canucks aren’t shopping backup goalie Cory Schneider. They’ll continue to entertain offers between now and the February 27th trade deadline, but they won’t move him unless they get a young, top-six forward they highly covet.
CALGARY SUN: Steve MacFarlane doesn’t expect the Flames to move Rene Bourque unless they can get a player who can help them right away. MacFarlane also suggested perhaps the trade talk about Bourque is designed to motivate him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With so many teams off to slow starts this season, it’s not surprising the MSM rumor mill is kicking into gear earlier than usual for this season. I concur with MacFarlane regarding Bourque. He’s a talented winger but also a streaky scorer, and this rumor could help him perform with more consistency for the Flames. As for Ruutu, with the Hurricanes in need of another top-six forward, I have my doubts they’ll move him at this time, unless they can get a scoring forward in return. I also agree with LeBrun regarding the Blue Jackets, as moving Brassard and Vermette doesn’t make sense right now with their injury woes, unless they pick up a bona fide top six forward in return. The Lightning won’t find it easy to land a top-four blueliner, but it’s not impossible, and they do have some depth at forward to draw from, though don’t expect Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos or Ryan Malone to be going anywhere. I also agree with LeBrun regarding Schneider, and have been saying for weeks they won’t move Schneider as they intend to use him to spell off Roberto Luongo more often, especially early in the season.