Is Washington big enough for two Backstroms?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The Wild could be ready to deal goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

Two NHL executives told Sun Media that the Wild might deal Backstrom before Wednesday's trade deadline rather than risk losing him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough is trying to get the 31-year-old Backstrom, who is making $3.1 million (all terms US) this season, signed to a long-term contract, but league sources say Risebrough has investigated what they might be able to get in return.

The Capitals are at the top of the list of potential suitors.

"The only way they should trade Backstrom is if they're throwing in the towel on the season," said an NHL executive.

Yes, but rational decisions and the Wild don't always go hand-in-hand. Minnesota has never been afraid to let its free agents walk away, including Fs Brian Rolston, Andrew Brunette and Todd White, just to name a few.

But keeping Backstrom isn't going to be cheap. If Washington's Jose Theodore is making $4.5 million this season and Chicago's Cristobal Huet is earning a $5.626 million a season for the next four years, then what is Backstrom worth? Theodore and Huet haven't exactly set the world on fire.

Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal if a club was trying to trade a UFA, but in Backstrom's case he's been the Wild's best player and is the main reason Minnesota is still in the playoff hunt. If Backstrom isn't there, the Wild is mediocre.

Hey, if Backstrom does wind up with the Caps, one of his new teammates would be C Nicklas Backstrom.

Havlat staying put

The Blackhawks won't be moving RW Martin Havlat, who can become a UFA on July 1, at the deadline. Ideally, they'd like to find a centre to play with him down the stretch, but GM Dale Tallon has very little to spend under the salary cap. The word is the 'Hawks are talking to Havlat, who is making $6 million this season, about a long-term extension in the eight-to-10-year range.

Off the glass

The Flames are looking at dealing for Phoenix C Olli Jokinen. He has a strong relationship with Calgary coach Mike Keenan from their days together in Florida. Calgary was in the mix to land Jokinen before he was dealt to the Coyotes last summer. Edmonton, Columbus, Minnesota, Montreal and Vancouver are also interested. Meanwhile, Phoenix D Derek Morris is a certainty to be moved. The Bruins, Flyers and Devils are believed to be interested. Morris was a healthy scratch last night against the Blues, only adding fuel to the trade speculation fire ... The Thrashers are expected to deal D Niclas Havelid. The asking price is a third-round pick and the Bruins have shown interest ... Before the Penguins dealt for LW Chris Kunitz on Thursday, there was talk Pittsburgh was looking at Kings LW Alexander Frolov as an option. He is available. The Penguins would still like to add grit and will look at Senators RW Chris Neil.

Rumours du jour

A league executive insists the Stars have been floating the names of C Brad Richards and C Mike Ribeiro around. Richards has a no-movement clause and it's doubtful he'll be going anywhere, but Ribeiro might be an attractive option for the 'Hawks ... A host of teams are trying to acquire Avalanche F Ian Laperriere, including the Red Wings, Flyers, Canucks and Panthers. He and fellow pending UFA, D Jordan Leopold, will be dealt ... Predators GM David Poile has indicated he's a seller. C Radek Bonk, C Steve Sullivan and D Greg de Vries are available ... The Wild has been quietly trying to move D Kim Johnsson ... The Flyers are trying to move C Daniel Briere, but there's simply nobody who has the cap space ... The Islanders have discussed the possibility of moving RW Bill Guerin. He could end up with the Bruins, Rangers or Devils for a playoff run ... A GM's take on the NHL trade deadline: "Not a lot of teams with a lot of money to spend."

Have a nice Sunday.


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