Nikolai Khabibulin’s tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks could be drawing to a close this week.
After Khabibulin cleared waivers last week, Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon gave Jay Grossman, the veteran goalie’s agent, permission to speak with other NHL teams in hopes of finding a potential trade partner.
Grossman claimed several teams expressed interest in Khabibulin, while Tallon said he’d be exploring all options, including the possibility of loaning the netminder to a team in Russia’s Kontinental League.
Tallon would prefer to find an NHL team for the veteran goalie and even suggested if no deal could be found Khabibulin would play for the Blackhawks, but that was greeted with skepticism by most observers.
Speculation abounds as to potential NHL destinations for Khabibulin. The Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche were rumored to be interested, but management for both teams dismissed those reports.
The Los Angeles Kings have been linked to Khabibulin throughout the summer, but GM Dean Lombardi has maintained he’ll be going with Jason LaBarbera as his starting goalie and will look within his own system for a backup.
Grossman and Tallon agreed it would be best for this situation to be resolved as soon as possible, preferably before the Blackhawks season opener Oct. 10.
• Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli admitted he’s in the market for a top defenseman, but hasn’t had much success finding one and dismissed a recent rumor that first-line center Marc Savard was being shopped.
In addition to his search for a defenseman, the Bruins GM is also looking at ways to free up cap space to make room for promising youngsters, notably winger Blake Wheeler.
Reports out of Boston suggest winger Peter Schaefer could be on his way out. However, a $2.1-million cap hit for the next two seasons and a disappointing performance in 2007-08 (nine goals, 26 points in 63 games) could make him impossible to move.
Another possibility is veteran winger P-J Axelsson, who’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for more than a year, but has a limited no-trade clause allowing him to authorize 20 possible trade partners.
Young forward Phil Kessel was rumored to have been available last season, but his name has yet to pop up in the recent Bruins rumors. It’s believed Chiarelli doesn’t want to give up on Kessel, who has the potential to be a scoring star, but the first round draft pick’s work ethic - especially in his defensive game - has been called into question.
• The Minnesota Wild’s effort to re-sign star forward Marian Gaborik is not looking good.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently reported talks appear to be at a standstill as GM Doug Risebrough admitted he didn’t expect Gaborik to be re-signed before the start of this season.
Risebrough suggested it was possible he’d consider trading Gaborik if an impasse couldn’t be broken, but declined to say if he’s already spoken to potential suitors.
The Wild management doesn’t want negotiations to become a distraction by dragging on throughout the season, but it appears unlikely Risebrough will move Gaborik early in the year, preferring to use the time to negotiate a potential deal. If nothing appears imminent by December, he could start shopping the talented, yet injury-prone winger.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.