Minnesota Wild forward Marian Gaborik’s hip surgery this week will not only sideline him for at least 10 weeks, but could also kill whatever trade value he had for the Wild.
It’s no secret contract talks between Gaborik - an unrestricted free agent in July - and the Wild have fallen through. Unfortunately for Minnesota, efforts by GM Doug Risebrough to shop the talented winger proved unsuccessful because Gaborik missed nearly two months of the season with an injury.
Gaborik returned for four games in December, but was sidelined again by his nagging hip injury. Risebrough reportedly hoped his star sniper would postpone surgery until season’s end, but Gaborik was adamant about getting treatment now.
His projected return isn’t until sometime after the March 4 trade deadline, which would seemingly put an end any Gaborik trade rumors, but there is chatter in the media suggesting Risebrough might still have a slim chance to move him.
It’s been suggested Risebrough might be able to move Gaborik to a team hoping to dump salary with no intent on re-signing him after this season.
It’s a possibility, but one that appears to be remote. The most likely scenario is Gaborik will finish the season with the Wild, in which case Risebrough’s last best chance to get something of value for him would be to shop Gaborik’s rights in late June, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins’ recent struggles have more than one pundit suggesting this club could be ripe for a roster shakeup.
Despite the presence of young superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Pens have won only three of their past 10 games and have slid out of a playoff position. There’s plenty of time for them to recover, but if they don’t arrest their skid soon it could force management’s hand.
Some have suggested head coach Michel Therrien could be replaced, while others believe the problem is a lack of offensive wingers and tough customers, leading to suggestions young center Jordan Staal - a restricted free agent this summer - could be shopped.
This isn’t the first time Staal’s name has popped up in Penguins trade rumors and probably won’t be the last. GM Ray Shero hopes to retain Staal, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, so it’ll take a significant collapse to prompt Shero to even consider that option.
Expect Shero to remain patient for now and hope his current roster can pull itself out of its spiral soon.
• Scouts from the Columbus Blue Jackets were recently spotted following the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.
The Jackets were dealt a significant blow when rookie star center Derick Brassard suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Dec. 18, plus they’ve been lacking a right-handed defenseman on the power play for some time.
The Jackets could be interested in Leafs center Nik Antropov or Islanders centers Doug Weight and Mike Comrie.
Pavel Kubina would certainly fit the bill for their defense, but he’s got a no-trade clause and might not be keen to waive it to go to Columbus.
• As the Atlanta Thrashers continue to struggle there’s talk they may consider moving veteran blueliner Mathieu Schneider and the remainder of his $5.625 million salary for this season.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun suggested a possible destination could be the Ottawa Senators, who’ve been seeking an experienced, puck-moving defenseman all season and are reportedly shopping forward Antoine Vermette to get one.
While it remains to be seen if Schneider is a fit for the Senators, there are bound to be teams looking for a veteran defenseman who’ll certainly have keen interest in him over the next couple of months. Don’t expect him to finish the season as a Thrasher.
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.