Just five weeks remain in the NHL trading window and the chatter is about to head into overdrive -- if it has not done so already.
Among the rumours floating around the league:
- The Montreal Canadiens continue to have more than a passing interest in Calgary Flames winger Alex Tanguay. Canadiens assistant general manager Pierre Gauthier has been following the Flames like a bad smell, but there is the matter of Tanguay's no-trade clause. The names of Canadiens being dealt in return range from understandable (Michael Ryder) to highly unlikely (Alex Kovalev or Saku Koivu).
- Los Angeles Kings defenceman Rob Blake has picked up his game considerably and might be on the move before the Feb. 26 deadline. And despite his club's strong record, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson would love to get his hands on a defenceman.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins might be willing to move centre Erik Christensen for help on the blue line. The Columbus Blue Jackets covet Christensen and would part with defenceman Duvie Westcott. New York Rangers assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld has been watching Columbus closely, but it's thought the Jackets are not ready to deal defenceman Adam Foote.
- With the news this week that Steve Sullivan is done for the year with back trouble, the Nashville Predators will be in the market for a scoring forward. Nashville has eight healthy defencemen on its roster and some solid blue-line prospects, so there are plenty of assets to get something done.
The best part of rumours for the fans? Soon, some whispers will start to become reality. A year ago, there were 24 trades in the month leading up to the deadline and 25 were made on deadline day.
Chris Pronger isn't doing it. Neither is Sergei Gonchar nor Nicklas Lidstrom.
But Mike Green is. In just his second full NHL season, the Washington Capital is leading NHL defencemen with 14 goals.
It has helped that offensive defencemen such as Sheldon Souray, Dan Boyle and Bryan McCabe have been injured. But Green sounds like he expected to score.
"The past couple of years have been grooming years, and I had the feeling it was time to step up," said the Calgary native, who never had more than 14 goals in one season in a four-year career with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, during a telephone interview.
"You want to play an important role and there was only one way for this organization to go, and that's up. It's fun to be a part of this."
The Maple Leafs' John Ferguson is not the only GM taking heat these days. Said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster of his team's hold on last place in the Eastern Conference: "This is my mess. The responsibility lies with me."
Feaster also said he has no intention of firing coach John Tortorella.
How bad has it become in Tampa? After a 3-0 loss at home to Colorado on Tuesday night, Tortorella had his players on the ice for an 8 a.m. practice on Wednesday.
"It's not about embarrassing athletes," Tortorella said. "You need certain processes to become a better team. That's what this was about."