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Rumour Round-Up - Backes in Vancouver?


Jason Chen

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Even though the animosity on the ice between the Blues and the Canucks is real, it looks like upstairs in the front office it may be quite amicable. The Globe and Mail has recently reported that there is a potential deal in the works, with John Davidson having scouted the Manitoba Moose recently and Mike Gillis taking in the Blues-Habs game rather than the CHL Top Prospects game.

<img src="http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2008/1124/fantasy_g_schneider_300.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">There have been no comments from either Gillis or Davidson, but the Globe suspects that the Blues are keeping their eye on Cory Schneider, whose career as a Vancouver Canuck may not last past this season.

The former Boston College standout has voiced his displeasure at being stuck in the AHL and the Blues, with Chris Mason and Ty Conklin manning the pipes, may be looking for a goalie of the future. They do have Jake Allen, Canada's World Junior starter, in the pipeline, but he is a couple years away and Hannu Toivonen has turned out to be a flop. The player coming back, however, is speculated to be David Backes, a player that Gillis has targeted previously.

Backes has one more year remaining on his contract at $2.5 million before he comes an unrestricted free agent. The big power forward has only 10 goals this year after potting 31 last year, but offensively the Blues have been inconsistent all season long, which has already cost Andy Murray his job.

I'm skeptical of this trade because of the role Backes plays in St. Louis. He's a leader, having worn the 'A', and he brings a rare blend of size and skill to the table. St. Louis would be making a mistake by trading away Backes. He has an attractive contract to go with it and I think the only reason the Globe has mentioned Backes is because Gillis had expressed interest before his breakout season.

<img src="http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2009/0102/nhl_g_backes_300.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">Now that Backes' stock has somewhat fallen, he may be easier to pry away from the Blues. Davidson, Larry Pleau, and Doug Armstrong are no fools, however, and the know the value of having Backes in an otherwise smallish (but fairly physical) top six Blues lineup. That being said, as much as Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows and Backes have had http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1angy_kjuk, I would love to see him in a Canucks jersey.

League rumour round-up:

Asides from Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Tuomo Ruutu, Brandon Sutter, and Tim Gleason, everyone on the Hurricanes' roster can go. I'm a little surprised to see that Joe Corvo isn't on that list. He's one of the few truly underrated players out there and the Sens shouldn't have given him up. Another player of interest is Matt Cullen, a second/third-line forward that is good in the circle and has some offensive ability. Ray Whitney has yet to waive his no-trade clause. Just a note on the captaincy switch - I wonder if it means Rod Brind'Amour's leaving soon? The Caps at least traded away Chris Clark and waited a couple of days before naming Alex Ovechkin as captain, even though everyone saw it coming.

It's no secret that the Oilers are going to try and overhaul their roster soon. Sheldon Souray has already said he'll waive his no-trade clause but it's been rumoured that he prefers to stay out west, unless it's a Cup contender. Washington has expressed interest, as have the Rangers, Sabres, and Bruins. The Hawks are reportedly looking for more defensive depth but they'll have to unload Brian Campbell somehow for that to work.

Despite reports that Vincent Lecavalier doesn't want to leave Tampa, his name continues to be a staple in the rumour mill. As always he will be linked to the Habs, but given their (ill-advised) splurge this summer they have little room for him. The Rangers are also rumoured to be interested but the Lightning will have to take back significant salary, something I don't think they're too keen on doing given their poor financial numbers. Wade Redden, Matt Gilroy, Michal Rozsival, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Callahan are the names being mentioned.

People are still hooked on a potential Tomas Kaberle trade but it's just not going to happen. First, he's the Leafs most valuable player and the only defenseman on that team that can handle the puck with any form of grace and skill. Second, as much as Burke's attitude gets the spotlight, he's a real man of his word and when he says he won't ask Kaberle to waive his no-trade, I believe him. Kaberle's not going anywhere this season.

One name that's of particular interest to me is Colby Armstrong. The Thrashers are looking to deal the rugged winger and the Flames and Wild are reportedly interested. I don't know if Armstrong's the solution to the Flames' scoring woes and the Wild have made sideways steps this year at best, but he's a versatile player who can play a physical style suitable for the playoffs.

The Wings will probably re-sign Todd Bertuzzi, the Pens would love to have Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang back but will probably have to pick one, the Stars are looking for a goalie of the future, and the Ducks may become sellers soon.

But of course, the Big Tuna here is Ilya Kovalchuk. Sorry Canucks fans, but it's not going to happen. Let's hope he stays out East though.

And I'll just end everything with my personal favourite John Tortorella and his post-game interview against Philadelphia last night.

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One rumor from early in the season, that was mentioned as being left on the table for Gillis to ponder, was a trade deal with Dallas that involved Cory Schneider, even though no names were mention by the source in the rumor heading to Van in exchange for Cory Schneider, he did go on to say that forward he heard was a big player of their current roster, which leads one to speculate on just who exactly he was reffering to, personally I know through a source, a reliabel source that is, that Gillis and staff have some interest in Jamie Benn and Mark Fistric.

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I think Cory Schneider was already on the block with the acquisition of Roberto Luongo. Since Luongo looks like he'll stay a Canuck for a long time Schneider's our big trade piece but because he sees limited NHL action some GMs are shying away.

Dallas is in the market for a goalie but I think they'd prefer to deal with the East first. I imagine one of their targets will be Ondrej Pavelec or Kari Lehtonen, whichever the Thrashers choose to keep, or maybe even a stop gap measure with a guy like Martin Biron or maybe even just stick with Alex Auld. The Stars do have some nice pieces but I don't expect them to part with either Benn or Neal, more likely Fistric, Tom Wandell, or even Ray Sawada.

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