Captain Canadien? Habs mulling a trade for Ryan Smyth

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

Are the Montreal Canadiens eyeing Captain Canada?

With only three wins in their past 16 games -- including yesterday's victory over the Senators -- GM Bob Gainey might not be done dealing after acquiring veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider this past week.

League sources say a possible solution the Habs are studying is Avalanche winger Ryan Smyth, who has three years left on his contract at an average of $6.25 million (all terms US) per season and is being shopped by Colorado GM Francois Giguere.

The Avalanche, buried at the bottom of the Western Conference, want to shed salary. They haven't been the same without injured captain Joe Sakic, the goaltending has been horrid with Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft, and attendance is plummeting in a market that used to routinely sell out.

Smyth, 32, can still contribute. He has played in a Canadian market before, and in hindsight probably should have stayed with the Oilers.

There's likely no going back there, the fans in Montreal would embrace his hard-charging style and the Avs won't want a lot in return.

Of course, Smyth would have to waive his no-trade clause and maintained yesterday he'd like to stay put.

"I've got three years left on my deal, and I really like it here," he said.

OFF THE GLASS

The Blues haven't asked C Keith Tkachuk to waive his no-movement clause yet. But that day is coming. He would like to go to the Bruins, but the interest may not be mutual ... The next player packing his bags in Ottawa will likely be D Christoph Schubert. The Oilers and Bolts may both be interested and need help on the blue line. It's believed the Senators would like D Ladislav Smid from Edmonton in exchange for Schubert, a healthy scratch the past eight games. Smid has also been used sparingly ... The Thrashers have been shopping Ds Ron Hainsey and Niclas Havelid. Both are expected to be dealt at the deadline ... Nice of Anaheim D Chris Pronger to tell everyone on his website he doesn't want to leave the Ducks. Message to Pronger: He's not the one making the decision. That's GM Bob Murray's job, and he's been shopping the veteran blueliner. The Devils are looking, but they'd rather have Pronger's teammate, Scott Niedermayer, as a rental.

AROUND THE BOARDS

All the talk has Oilers LW Erik Cole going to the Bruins, but they may not be the No. 1 suitor. The Penguins are likely willing to pay the price so Cole can play on C Sidney Crosby's wing. The Habs may also have an interest in Cole ... The Senators and potential unrestricted free-agent RW Chris Neil aren't even in the same ballpark on a new contract. Discussions have gone nowhere. The belief is Neil's camp wants more than $2 million per season, while the Senators have countered with something close to the $1.5 million that Georges Laraque is making with the Habs. The Sharks and Wings are both interested in Neil. The Senators will likely get a second-round pick in return ... The Sabres will go looking for scoring help if LW Thomas Vanek isn't ready to return soon from his broken jaw ... The Blue Jackets are interested in Habs RW Alexei Kovalev. At this point, the Penguins haven't held any Kovalev discussions ... The Wild front office likes to spend a lot of time telling people around the NHL how it does things right. If the club doesn't get G Niklas Backstrom signed, GM Doug Risebrough and assistant Tom Lynn should be subject to job reviews in the off-season. The Wild tends to wait for a bargain that never materializes.

Have a nice Sunday.


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