NHL Trade Rumours: Latest on Ladd, Hansen, Russell, Okposo

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman touches a little on each Canadian team’s trade deadline goals, and believes the Canucks, Oilers and Flames will all be big players on February 29th.

Six more days until the NHL Trade Deadline, and the rumour mill, she is a-churning.

Today’s roundup of the latest hearsay and conjecture includes notes on Andrew Ladd, Keith Yandle, Kyle Okposo, Kris Russell, Jannik Hansen, and the St. Louis Blues.

Last night to cheer for Ladd in the ‘Peg?

Tuesday night in Winnipeg could be captain Andrew Ladd’s final home game in a Jets sweater. Listen for the ovation and, hopefully, some creative chants.

The playoff-seasoned winger is reportedly drawing interest from several teams. USA Today‘s Kevin Allen argues that the best fit for Ladd is in Chicago’s top six, skating alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

Ladd met with reporters in Winnipeg Tuesday and said his agent hasn’t been negotiating with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. He also hasn’t been told that he’ll be traded, but certainly sounded like a man capable of reading between the lines.

“For sure [it’s disappointing],” Ladd told reporters. “The whole year just hasn’t gone as anyone’s planned.”

Canucks dangling Hansen?

Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reports that Jannik Hansen’s increased performance on Vancouver’s top line, his blazing speed and his comfortable $2.5-million cap hit will make him attractive to buyers.

“It’s playing with the twins — it’s that simple. You play with them, you’re going to get more opportunities. It’s not rocket science. I want to win here and it’s that simple. And I don’t think I’m that much better, but when you’re playing three or four minutes more a game and with two of the best players in the league, you’re going to have better numbers,” Hansen said.

“I enjoy it here and believe we have something going, but [a trade] is out of your hands, and there’s very little you can do about it — unless you have full [no-trade clause] protection. And that’s something I haven’t earned.”

Dallas calling, but Yandle hearts New York

“Anyone who knows me, anyone who sees me, they can see how happy I am playing in New York and with this group,” Keith Yandle told
Larry Brooks of the New York Post
. “I even got a text from my mom the other day saying that she has never seen me look so happy.

“That should tell you everything.”

Since the 29-year-old defenceman is a pending UFA, it’s no surprise that contenders are ringing New York Rangers rookie GM Jeff Gorton. Citing multiple sources, Brooks reports that trade interest for the power-play asset is high, especially from the Western Conference.

“Dallas has been dogging the Rangers for weeks. The Blueshirts perhaps would be able to get the Stars’ immensely talented 20-year-old winger Valeri Nichushkin as part of the return package,” Brooks writes. “But league sources also say the Blueshirts are no longer signaling Yandle’s availability. No kidding. The Rangers, 7-1-1 in their past nine and 13-5-2, instead appear to be preparing to bulk up for another run at the Stanley Cup that has eluded them since 1994.”

Polak trade increases interest in Flames’ Russell

Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving, who holds two of the more tempting trade chips in Kris Russel and Jiri Hudler, discussed his club’s situation at this critical time of year with Hockey Central at Noon Tuesday.

“Deadline time, defencemen are always in high demand,” Trelving said. “You can never have enough of them.”

Dependable blue-liners are at premium, as Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who paid two second-round picks to pick up Roman Polak and Nick Spaling from the Maple Leafs, can attest.

Treliving said he’s received more inquiries in the last couple of days as a result of both the calendar and the Polak deal.

“Once a deal gets done, there’s a resetting of the market,” he said. “It’s been picking up.”

The Flames will consider players with term as well as picks and prospects for their rentals. Treliving did not rule out re-signing Russell but did point out the realities of a salary-cap world could be a roadblock.

“We really like this player. He’s a wonderful person,” Treliving said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

Okposo won’t beg to stay

A pending UFA who deserves more ink is New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo. The winger has 45 points in 55 games this season, but to our knowledge an extension offer has yet to be floated his way.

Okposo, who wants to stay, met with reporters and said he would not be knocking on GM Garth Snow’s office to plead his case.

“I’m playing for the Islanders. Once that [trade deadline] passes, there’ll probably be a lot of questions answered, and whatever happens is going to happen. I hope I’m here, and I hope I’m trying to help this team win a Stanley Cup,” Okposo said.

“They’re going to make those decisions at an appropriate time. I never want that to be a distraction among the group. I’m just trying to keep a level head on my shoulders, go out there and play my game.”

Did the Blues just enter the goalie market?

With St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott now sidelined for about a month and Jake Allen having just returned from injury, perhaps GM Doug Armstrong just joined the Sharks, Flames and, possibly, the Coyotes as teams interested in obtaining a netminder.

Toronto’s James Reimer, Calgary’s Jonas Hiller, Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, and Carolina’s Cam Ward are all trade chips would could be in play if a game of musical creases breaks out.

In brief

Luke DeCock of the Charlotte Observer wonders if Carolina GM Ron Francis will move not-so-obvious trade chips Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal in the next six days.

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to trade winger Erik Condra.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was in Montreal scouting the Predators-Canadiens game Monday night.

And here is what Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz would like on Feb. 29: