Hawks not very Khab-by

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

BRUCE.GARRIOCH -- Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon is getting an itchy finger and don't be surprised if he makes a deal involving G Nikolai Khabibulin, who has been a bust in Chicago. Khabibulin, who backstopped the Lightning to a Stanley Cup title in 2003-04, was considered the free-agent prize among goalies once the NHL lockout was settled. Khabibulin signed a four-year, $27-million (all terms US) deal ($6.75 million a season) in August with Chicago -- a contract Tallon would now like to rid himself of. There's talk the Hawks are working on a deal to send Khabibulin to the Oilers. Yes, the Oilers have targeted Washington's Olaf Kolzig and Khabibulin hasn't played well, but Khabibulin might be better if he had a decent team in front of him. The fact the Hawks are awful has only made the situation worse for Khabibulin in the Windy City. Naturally, Chicago would have to take G Ty Conklin as part of a package in return, but Edmonton might be a nice fit for Khabibulin to get back on track and the club has the cap room to make the deal happen ... It's looking like Caps F Alexander Ovechkin is going to bring home the hardware this spring. He's taken the lead in the NHL's rookie-of-the-year race over Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and there's even whispers he should be a candidate for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP ... The NHL will announce tomorrow Dallas is getting the 2007 all-star game.

AROUND THE BOARDS: The Panthers are going to have to get by without top LW Gary Roberts until after the Olympic break. He's out with a knee injury he suffered in a collision with teammate Sean Hill ... New Jersey G Martin Brodeur is after the officials. He wasn't happy that Nashville C Vernon Fiddler crashed the net Friday and there was no call because the referees decided it was incidental contact. "(That) was as bad a call as they could make," said Brodeur. "I have never heard of incidental contact in my crease. That was as bad a call as they could make." ... The Islanders have interviewed John Weisbrod, a former NBA and NHL executive, for the GM's job left vacant by Mike Milbury's firing. Indications are Weisbrod would like to bring back former Isles coach Peter Laviolette as the club's player personnel director and bench boss. Laviolette, who is doing a great job behind the Carolina bench, is a free agent at the end of the season. Red Deer coach and GM Brent Sutter and Vancouver assistant GM Steve Tambellini are top candidates for the job. Look for Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli to get an interview ... Columbus GM Doug MacLean sent word through an NHL executive last week that he's not getting fired and he expects to sign a contract extension ... There's a lot of talk Leafs D Bryan McCabe won't be ready for the Olympics. Tampa's Dan Boyle, Calgary's Dion Phaneuf, San Jose's Scott Hannan and Florida's Jay Bouwmeester are being considered as possible replacements.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: Is the dismantling of the Coyotes under way? The club sent underachieving C Petr Nedved packing to the Flyers on Friday, and that could just be the beginning. Once the dust has settled with the club's ownership group, expect to see C Mike Comrie and G Curtis Joseph shipped out ... The Hawks are also looking to move C Tyler Arnanson. The club has plenty of young players coming along and don't be surprised if the Senators are in on those sweepstakes. The word is Minny is trying to make a pitch ... Is Minny G Dwayne Roloson going to be dealt to the Canucks? That one won't go away, but the Avs remain a strong possibility ... Speaking of the Wild, it's interested in Tampa C Brad Richards -- as are the the Predators. Wild GM Doug Risebrough badly wants a No. 1 centre and it's a forgone conclusion the Bolts aren't going to be able to keep Richards next season after signing C Vincent Lecavalier and RW Martin St. Louis to long-term contracts. Perhaps, the Lightning will get G Manny Fernandez in return ... Not only are the Blues going to shed the salary of C Doug Weight by the trade deadline, they're also going to move LW Keith Tkachuk ... Plenty of talk Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick will take over the Bruins next season ... Talks to get C Olli Jokinen signed in Florida will heat up in the next 10 days. If doesn't sign a new contract, he'll be dealt and the Flames are the No. 1 contender.

Have a nice Sunday.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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