February is almost one week old, and in the course of this NHL season that means it is trading season. There were a couple of interesting trades in January, but hockey's swapping season likely will pick up in the coming days. Here at NHL.com, we will bring you a daily roundup of reported rumors about who might be available and which teams might be looking to make a move for your lunchtime consumption in Deadline Diner.
DETROIT: The Red Wings won't know for sure how long they'll be without goalie Jimmy Howard (fractured right index finger) until they return to Detroit on Tuesday and he consults with team doctors. Howard knows for sure that he will be out longer than the initial optimistic diagnosis of two games, but he's hopeful his absence won't extend into the 4-6 week territory that was explained to him by the doctors in Vancouver.
Howard told reporters over the weekend that he's aiming for two weeks on the shelf, but regardless of how long he's out, it's still going to be interesting to see how Red Wings GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock handle the situation.
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"It wasn't good enough," Babcock said of Conklin's performance Saturday, according to the Detroit Free Press. "It's an opportunity for him, and you want him to grab it. We need him to get confidence for himself and then for the guys. It wasn't the way we wanted it to go. Tough break for him."
If the tough breaks continue for Conklin and MacDonald, Evgeni Nabokov is a name that likely will come up in trade talk surrounding the Red Wings. Holland tried to get Nabokov last season only to have the Islanders swoop in and pluck him off waivers.
Howard will be back well before the playoffs, and unless the Red Wings fall apart, they will not struggle to secure a berth. However, the Red Wings would like to have confidence in their backup goalie -- and Howard's injury gives Babcock and Holland a chance to assess the situation and make a decision before the deadline.
COLORADO: The Avalanche are winless in their last five games (0-4-1) and they came out of the weekend 10th in the Western Conference, three points out of eighth. They're among a cluster of teams fighting for what appears to be the final two playoff spots in the West, and if the Avs are going to get there they may need an infusion of scoring.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post wrote Sunday that Colorado "almost certainly will deal one of their eight healthy D-men by Feb. 27." Among the candidates Dater suggests most likely to go are potential unrestricted free agent Shane O'Brien and pending restricted free agent Kyle Quincey.
Dater suggested that Quincey could give the Avalanche the most return. He's 26 years old, has 22 points in 48 games, and leads the team in time on ice per game (22:26) while playing in all situations. Quincey is in the final year of a contract that is paying him $3.125 million this season.
Colorado so far has not taken advantage of its current four-game homestand. It lost in regulation to Minnesota and in a shootout to Vancouver. The Avs are home against the Blackhawks on Tuesday and close the homestand Friday when the Hurricanes come to town. They will play six of their last seven games before the trade deadline on the road, including stops in St. Louis, Vancouver and Detroit.
It's a tough stretch of games that could determine if the Avalanche are going to be sellers or playoff contenders by the deadline.
CAROLINA: It's time for your daily Tuomo Ruutu update. Yes, he's still with the Carolina Hurricanes, but the entire hockey world knows by now that GM Jim Rutherford is fielding calls on Ruutu, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
While Rutherford is hopeful that his team can put together a winning streak to get into playoff contention, he is aware that the odds are stacked against the Hurricanes this season. As USA Today's Kevin Allen wrote in his Monday column, Ruutu remains the hot name coming out of Carolina, but the price could be high, as Rutherford realizes his player is in demand.
Ruutu leads the Hurricanes with 16 goals and 102 hits, and he's fourth on the team with 27 points.
The Bruins could be a team to watch in the Ruutu sweepstakes, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Nathan Horton (concussion).
Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald wrote late week that Ruutu could be the ideal fit with the Bruins due to his rugged style of play that makes him seem bigger than his 6-foot, 205-pound frame.
Boston certainly has seen enough of Ruutu this season. He had 2 goals, 1 assist and a plus-2 rating in the Hurricanes' four wins against the Bruins this season. Plus, Rutherford and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli have been trading partners before, with the most recent transaction this past offseason when Carolina shipped Joe Corvo to Boston for a fourth-round draft pick.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl