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Trending: Trade talk, Sid update, Hawks hitting road

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 10:28 AM / NHL.Countdown

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Trending: Trade talk, Sid update, Hawks hitting road
Trade talk, Crosby's status dominate hockey talk.
Trade talk is heating up, Sidney Crosby is again dominating headlines, and the Ducks are having fun. However, there are situations with players in Toronto and Minnesota that are worth paying attention to. And there's reason to focus on Chicago's road trip and the slumping Senators.

Trending this Week has it covered below:

#TradeRumors

Tuomo Ruutu is ready to be traded just about anywhere.

"I've heard rumors I'm going to every team in the NHL," Ruutu told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. "I must be playing really well."

Ruutu has no points in the past seven games, but he leads the Hurricanes with 15 goals and 99 hits to his credit this season. He's also a proven winger in the final year of his contract, so he's likely to move either at, or before, the deadline. TSN's Darren Dreger reported early this week that he could be the first significant player to be traded this month.

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Jeff Carter's name is one that comes up in a lot of trade conversations. Scott Howson issued a "no comment" after being asked about Carter's availability this past weekend. Carter told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he isn't surprised by the rumors, but he has not asked for a trade. There has, however, been talk of his dissatisfaction in Columbus all season.

Putting Carter on the trading block and actually finding a partner willing to take him on are two completely different things. Howson may find it difficult to deal an injured player in a down season that still has 10 years left on a contract that pays him more than $5 million annually.

Then again, Howson doesn't have to deal Carter. He can keep Carter and try to make him happy in the summer by adding pieces around him and Rick Nash.

Other names that are coming up in rumor searches this week are Hal Gill, Chris Campoli and Travis Moen of the Canadiens. These three are veteran guys with Stanley Cup Playoff experience (Gill and Moen have won the Stanley Cup), so they are attractive to a lot of contending teams. Montreal is 14th in the Eastern Conference.

#CrosbyWatch

Sidney Crosby returned to the news in a major way during All-Star Weekend when his neck injury was first revealed on Sportsnet.ca. Crosby and Penguins GM Ray Shero spent 16 minutes shedding light on the injury and No. 87's status during a press room at Consol Energy Center prior to Tuesday's game.

The important information:

1) His team of doctors and Penguins representatives got together on a conference call and concluded that there was no evidence of a past or present fracture in his neck, but he does have a soft-tissue injury in his neck; 2) Crosby is optimistic that the neck injury is something that can be treated and hopefully is part of the reason for his concussion-like symptoms; 3) Crosby said he is still dealing with some symptoms, but feels much better than he did a couple of weeks ago. He's encouraged that he's skating.

While the press conference was mostly about Crosby's health, Crosby also said he is not at all disappointed with the care he has received from the Penguins' medical staff, and that owner Mario Lemieux has given him his full support.

There is still no timetable for Crosby's return to the lineup, though Tuesday's press conference did provide for optimism and clarity regarding his status.

#HopeInAnaheim

Corey Perry
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 39
SOG: 175 | +/-: -9
"We played 12 really good games in a row," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said after Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Dallas. "Tonight, we didn't. We stunk."

That's about as honest as a coach can get, and Boudreau is spot-on with his assessment. The Ducks were dreadful Wednesday in losing to one of the many teams they're chasing in the Western Conference. It was their second regulation loss in the past three games, but optimists see it as their second in the past 12 games.

The Ducks are optimists these days, thanks in large part to Boudreau's approach to the game.

"He has put the fun part back in the game and it's a looser atmosphere in the dressing room," All-Star Corey Perry told NHL.com in Ottawa. "He's always telling us that if we win two of three per week we're going to start climbing. We believe that, and we're having fun with it."

So far this week, the Ducks have won one of two. They can make it two of three Friday when they play Columbus.

Even after Wednesday's loss, Anaheim remains in 13th place, 10 points out of eighth place. That's exactly where it was before Dallas scored its first of six goals against Jonas Hiller.

"We're 10 points out, but we still have 30-something games left," Perry said. "It's a big task, but we're up for the challenge."

#KadriQuandary

Toronto forward Nazem Kadri was demoted to the AHL Marlies on Wednesday, meaning controversy in the NHL's most media-driven market was bound to swirl. He was sent down with defenseman Keith Aulie to make room for Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles, a pair of proven NHL veterans, to come off injured reserve. They both played in Toronto's 1-0 win against the Penguins on Wednesday.

"Naz is going to be a good NHL player," Leafs GM Brian Burke in an email to Damien Cox of the Toronto Star. "But young players need to bring urgency and energy to the game, and those components have tailed off."

The Leafs have an intriguing dilemma on their hands in Kadri, who, at 21, is still trying to live up to the expectations of being a top-10 draft pick.

Burke flat out says the kid is going to be a good NHL player, and one way to do that is to learn on the fly in the NHL. However, the Maple Leafs are chasing a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, hoping to get to the postseason for the first time since 2004, and it appears, at least for now, that they either don't have the time to let Kadri develop or believe he can't handle the rigors of the stretch run.

It could be both.

Kadri's name is one that is swirling in trade rumors, but there has to be a worry that if they trade him he'll develop into the top-10 talent he still could become in Toronto. Then again, if the Leafs trade him in a package of players, it's also possible the return could be a top-end proven offensive player that could help them secure a playoff berth this season.

Kadri has been called the "yo-yo" in Toronto, but how much rope does he have left?

#WildControversy

Marek Zidlicky
Defense - MIN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 11
SOG: 38 | +/-: -6
Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky is not happy that he's been a healthy scratch for the past three games. Before that, Zidlicky was deployed on the blue line only when Minnesota's less offensive-minded players were on the ice. Wild coach Mike Yeo doesn't seem at all interested in dealing with a guy who he feels has failed to jump on board with the culture change he's trying to create in Minnesota.

The Wild are 2-10-4 in the past 16 games that Zidlicky has played. They're 12-4 in the past 16 games that he sat out. He missed 13 games from Nov. 17-Dec. 13 with a concussion.

Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune dug deep into the details about Zidlicky and Yeo's strained relationship earlier this week.

The conclusion from Zidlicky's side is that at 34 years old he feels he can't change his style, and if the coach doesn't want to play him he'll be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that wants his services. Zidlicky has one year and $4 million remaining on his contract.

The conclusion from Yeo's side is that he views Zidlicky's claim that he can't change as a public acknowledgement that the veteran rearguard won't buy in to the coach's way of doing things. Yeo said he's never told Zidlicky that he has to change his style, but he wants all of the players to buy into the team concept.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher opted to keep his thoughts on the matter private.

Suffice it to say that this type of controversy is the last thing the Wild need at a time when they're trying to hang on in the tight Western Conference playoff race. It's also a tough position for Fletcher, because other GMs could view Zidlicky as a problem and offer little in return to take him off the Wild's hands.

#HawksOnTheRoad

It's possible that the Blackhawks' chances of winning the Central Division hinge on their next 10 games, the first eight of which are on the road.

Before diving into the details of the road trip, which started with Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss at Vancouver, let's discuss the good news. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp returned to the lineup for Tuesday's game. There's obviously little doubt as to how important these two players are for the Blackhawks, and they showed why at points in Tuesday's game when they dominated possession by winning battles along the walls.

More to the point is the road schedule, which is long and brutal, but has enough breaks built in to allow the Hawks to come home for two brief visits.

Chicago continues its Western Canada swing with a back-to-back starting Thursday in Edmonton and finishing up Friday in Calgary. The Hawks will return home after playing the Flames and stay for the weekend. They'll head to Denver next Monday in advance of Tuesday's game against the Avalanche. From there it's out to San Jose and then to Phoenix before the Hawks make their second trip to Chicago.

They finish the road trip with games in Nashville, New York and Columbus. But just when you think they'll come home and everything will be easier, the Blackhawks host the Blues less than 24 hours after completing their game in Columbus. The Red Wings come to town two days later.

What kind of shape will the Blackhawks be in after these next 10 games?

#SlumpingSens

Craig Anderson
Goalie - OTT
RECORD: 25-17-4
GAA: 2.93 | SVP: 0.909
It's not wrong to give the Senators a break for going into the highly-hyped All-Star break on a three-game losing streak. Preparations for All-Star Weekend at Scotiabank Place forced them to hit the road for the final five games before the break, including a four-game swing out west.

It's also OK to give them a break for losing to Boston on Tuesday. The Senators have been surprisingly successful this season, but no one ever said they were better than the Bruins. They hung in with the defending Stanley Cup champions despite what had to be an All-Star hangover for Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Colin Greening.

None of that changes the fact that Ottawa has lost four games in a row in regulation and goalie Craig Anderson, perhaps over-used, is showing some chink in his armor.

Anderson was victimized in the third period Tuesday night by defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's 90-foot slap shot that bounced along the ice and then off his goalie stick. It wound up being the game-winner as Anderson gave up four goals on 30 shots, including three unanswered goals in a span of 7:54 bridging the second and third period.

It won't be all doom and gloom in Ottawa provided the Senators can get back on track during their upcoming five-game homestand, which begins Friday against the Islanders.

With the team in need of a win, Anderson will presumably be in net against the Islanders. But it might be time to give Alex Auld a rare start, his first since he allowed three goals on 15 shots in the first period against Calgary on Dec. 30. Auld hasn't played a game from start to finish since Dec. 16 against Pittsburgh.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres