As Mats Sundin mulls his future in Toronto and Marian Hossa and the Atlanta Thrashers try to figure out whether they want to save their union or get a divorce, Adam Foote and the Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to come to an agreement soon on the defenceman's future.
Whether it means Foote, who is getting long in the tooth but is playing his best hockey since the lockout ended, tells Jackets general manager Scott Howson he wants to stay in Columbus or he is willing to waive his no-trade clause should become known next week.
If Foote, 36, decides to move on, Howson will have suitors leading up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Foote has a pair of Stanley Cup rings and leads Columbus with an average of 23 minutes, 45 seconds of ice time.
"It's time to have that talk," said Howson, who would like to sign Foote to an extension. Howson yesterday added some blue-line depth with the acquisition of Dick Tarnstrom from the Edmonton Oilers.
Other bigger-name defencemen who probably could be had for the right price in the next few weeks include Rob Blake and Brad Stuart of the Los Angeles Kings and Dan Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said the next 8-10 games will determine whether Hossa stays or goes.
Jody Shelley became a San Jose Shark this week primarily because the Sharks don't want to be dead meat if they happen to tangle in the playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks, who are one of the NHL's most physical teams.
"When teams try to push us around, we've got some artillery -- a nuclear weapon," Sharks coach Ron Wilson, said.
Shelley had 119 career fighting majors in Columbus.
"I know who is on the other team, I identify who the other fighter is and who will be available to go," Shelley said in a rather succinct summation of his role in the NHL.
If the Flyers decide to trade for a defenceman on top of possibly adding Peter Forsberg, one player who could be bait is forward Scottie Upshall ... Lightning general manager Jay Feaster, who has failed to get a grip on the Lightning's goaltending situation since Nikolai Khabibulin left in 2005 for the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent, has made it known that his first priority this summer will be to acquire a No. 1 goalie, via trade or free agency. Karri Ramo is Tampa's goalie of the future and Feaster wants to bridge the gap until Ramo is set to be the full-time starter ... Don't be surprised if Darren McCarty returns to the Detroit Red Wings, who have offered their former winger a 25-game professional tryout with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich. McCarty spent the past two seasons with the Calgary Flames and just finished a 10-game stint with Flint of the IHL.