The April 3 NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching in this lockout-shortened season, and as expected, the rumor mill is buzzing with prospective moves that may take place in the next few days.
Most prominently making headlines is the Vancouver Canucks' goaltender situation involving Roberto Luongo and the red-hot Cory Schneider. Both are drawing interest, but the 33-year-old veteran appears more likely to leave town.
Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames is also being discussed in trade talks, as is valuable San Jose Sharks right winger Ryane Clowe.
Below is a breakdown of the latest chatter involving those developments.
Schneider had won six consecutive games entering Saturday's clash with the Edmonton Oilers. As a result of his strong form, teams are calling Canucks GM Mike Gillis about Schneider recently, according to ESPN's Craig Custance (subscription required).
However, the more likely move is believed to be involving Luongo.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs have reached out to Gillis and Co. again to revitalize negotiations to acquire the netminder.
Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger
Sources say Vancouver reached out to Toronto this week to revisit Loungo talks.Flames hoping for a better read on Kipper's future this wknd.2013-3-29 18:11:03
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN provided further details of the discussions, and also indicated two other teams have called about Luongo, although the level of interest is hard to project.
Last week in Phoenix when the Canucks were in town there, Vancouver assistant GM Laurence Gilman met with his old pal and mentor Cliff Fletcher, senior adviser with the Leafs. Those two guys talk all the time but, on this occasion, Fletcher revisited the Luongo dialogue with Gilman.
That conversation between Gilman and Fletcher sparked Vancouver GM Mike Gillis to follow up and phone Toronto GM Dave Nonis this past week to further explore those talks.
The Leafs finally look to be turning things around, sitting in the No. 6 position in the Eastern Conference standings.However, they do rank 16th in the league in goals allowed per game.
Even though they already have promising youngsters in James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, a prospective playoff run would likely be better served with a more experienced goalie in the fold.
Dreger's colleague Bob McKenzie believes Toronto is indeed in the market for a player like Luongo:
TSN 1050 Toronto @TSN1050Radio
@TSNBobMcKenzie - I do believe that the #Leafs have an inclination to get a veteran goaltender2013-3-29 21:12:25
Vancouver could get plenty of value in return for Luongo, including possible help on the power play, which ranks 29th in the NHL.
The Flames defenseman is a threat on both ends of the rink, fully capable of scoring and anchoring the blue line attack when the other team is a man down.
An NHL executive told ESPN's LeBrun that Calgary is likely to move Bouwmeester, but that the price will be significant.
That hunch makes sense in light of the Flames' recent dealing of longtime face of the franchise Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Wednesday. With Calgary in rebuilding mode as one of this year's worst teams, any draft picks or other young assets that can be had would be ideal.
Rob Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun provided some humorous commentary on the situation:
Rob Tychkowski @Sun_Tychkowski
I wouldn't trade for Jay Bouwmeester until my team had actually clinched a playoff spot. Just to be on the safe side2013-3-30 00:51:24
This is Bouwmeester's 10th NHL season, and he has never played in a playoff game despite a very respectable career. Fleeing to a contender would be a nice way to redeem the perpetual losing he has endured while also helping the Flames in the long term.
The Sharks winger doesn't produce an incredible amount of offense, but he is a solid two-way player who is physical at 6'2", 225 pounds and can be a valuable piece to a Stanley Cup puzzle.
LeBrun reports that the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Canucks are interested in the gritty 30-year-old. He notes that Clowe would be a particularly good fit with the Habs' high-octane scorers.
The price on Clowe is a first-round pick, and a future young asset may be too much for teams to execute a trade, though. Clowe is due to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and has a no-trade clause in his current contract.
It hasn't been a very strong season for Clowe, and the Sharks are still hanging on in the Western Conference playoff race.
That said, San Jose can apparently gain a lot in return. Clowe is just the type of player teams will want for a deep playoff run, and he has the incentive to pick up his play to increase his value on the open market.