If the rumblings prove correct, goalie Justin Peters may have a new NHL home address in the very near future. And the subsequent fantasy fallout for the acting top dog with the Carolina Hurricanes holds promise.
Peters has gone above and beyond in relief of Cam Ward and original backup Anton Khudobin since early November. But, despite his post-injury struggles, Ward remains the No. 1 overall in Carolina, and Khudobin is nearly set to return from a lower-body injury. Soon enough, the Hurricanes will have three netminders serving at the NHL level. That's one too many, by conventional big league arithmetic. And the Hurricanes have reportedly told Peters they won't expose him to waivers (he'd be snatched up by another club, guaranteed), which rules out immediate demotion to the AHL. Putting those pieces together, we're left with a jigsaw that spells out T-R-A-D-E. But who gets moved? Not Ward, according to Elliotte Friedman of CBC:
"Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford threw cold water on rumblings that Cam Ward might be the goalie he moves. Rutherford wouldn't comment further, but it is believed he will work to move either Anton Khudobin or Justin Peters by this week's trade freeze."
Specifically, a trade freeze that goes into effect this Friday, Dec. 19. Maybe the Hurricanes would prefer to keep Peters and move Khudobin, but the former Boston Bruins backup's 2013-14 resume of three games played in October might not jive with the favored what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mantra of pro sports. Of course, a lot will also depend on what Rutherford is demanding for either in return.
However it shakes out, Peters (or, yes, perhaps Khudobin) will be given the opportunity to battle for the No. 1 job with a squad that doesn't have Ward, or the like, entrenched as such. And that variety of opportunity would add instant shine to his fantasy worth. Even a transaction involving the Edmonton Oilers or New York Islanders -- the two bottom-feeders in the league's goals-allowed department -- isn't without promise. Enough of you have been willing to gamble on Devan Dubnyk, Ilya Bryzgalov and Evgeni Nabokov (admittedly solid in his past two starts), so why not take a similar chance with Peters? Owned in only 23 percent of ESPN.com leagues, he may well be worth a roll of the dice.
Quick hits from around the NHL
• In a situation similar to that of the Hurricanes, the Los Angeles Kings should have three healthy, capable netminders in the not-too-distant future. Jonathan Quick (groin) is recovering nicely and pegged to return relatively early in the new calendar year. With Ben Scrivens (owned in 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues) performing well and Martin Jones (owned in 94 percent of ESPN.com leagues) playing out of his mind, the Kings might face some tough choices of their own.
While they can't send Scrivens to the AHL outpost in Manchester without exposing him to waivers, how do they demote Jones, when he has a perfect record and is averaging a shutout every two games? What's more, the kid has an .082 goals-against average and .972 save percentage! Unless Jones falls back to earth by the time Quick is ready to go -- still a realistic possibility -- the Kings may opt to take the trade route with Scrivens, who's a restricted free agent this coming summer. And the fantasy fallout of such a potential move would be significant. It's a scenario worth watching closely.
• Out with a sprained knee since mid-November, Marian Gaborik could return on Saturday for the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be interesting to see if coach Todd Richards breaks up his Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson-Matt Calvert line as a result. Gaborik and Dubinsky, along with Artem Anisimov, have enjoyed a fair amount of success together in the past. We'll get a better sense of how the forward chips fall soon.
• Also from Friedman, there's talk of a possible trade jettisoning winger Linus Omark from the Edmonton Oilers organization. Honestly, this curdled relationship can't be scrapped soon enough. While the Oilers could garner an asset they actually want, the 26-year-old winger would only benefit from getting a shot elsewhere. And Friedman proposes a fit with the Buffalo Sabres, who could use some scoring pop more than any other team. In the right situation, Omark has proven he can produce (see: 69 points/48 games in the top Swiss league last season).
• As first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not loan defenseman Morgan Rielly to Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Unless he's dealt elsewhere, a rarely-used John-Michael Liles can't be too delighted with this news.
• Flyers center Brayden Schenn was seen to be in fragile condition after having been plowed into the boards from behind by Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The new Flyers line of Schenn, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds has shown some oomph since coming together, a sparkle that should offer a sense of optimism to owners of all three. And the good news on Schenn medically is that he is said to have a stiff neck, and that's all (so, no concussion). He's considered "questionable" for Thursday.
• Rookie Reid Boucher may stick around a while yet with the New Jersey Devils, despite the pending return of Stephen Gionta. Devils coach Pete DeBoer is said to be impressed with the 20-year-old's play in six NHL games and favors holding onto him for now. Far from a stellar fantasy asset at present, Boucher has the curriculum vitae of a promising scoring force. Before averaging nearly a point per game with the AHL Albany Devils this season, he accumulated 95 points in 68 games with the OHL Sarnia Sting in 2012-13. And, he's expected to see more minutes with the Devils' secondary power-play unit. Owned in essentially zero leagues, Boucher could eventually morph into a usable fantasy asset not too far down the road.
• No Evgeni Malkin for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday versus the New York Rangers, or Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. A return for the weekend remains a possibility, so owners in daily lineup leagues should keep their eyes peeled.
• The Detroit Red Wings should have Gustav Nyquist (owned in 23 percent of ESPN.com leagues) back before too long. The young winger's sore groin isn't believed to be too serious an issue. A blossoming fantasy asset -- while half of Detroit's corps of regular forwards shuffle in and out of sick bay -- Nyquist has eight points in 13 games since being recalled from the AHL.
• There's no mistake; trade rumors involving the Ottawa Senators and their hope of acquiring a puck-moving defenseman (such as the Rangers' Michael Del Zotto) have hushed considerably in recent days. That's for good reason, according to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun:
"For now, it turns out they may have found their answer from within. The call-up of 19-year-old blueliner Cody Ceci -- the team's first-round pick (15th overall) in 2012 -- has filled that need. It's been only three games, but his overtime goal against the Blues on Tuesday night plus his overall play is exactly what the Senators were looking for back there. Not to mention the improved play of blueliner Jared Cowen of late. So for now, the trade target has shifted to a top-six forward, although there was nothing imminent on that front as of Tuesday."
Ceci has contributed nicely (17 points in 24 games) at the AHL level this season. A spot on the Senators' secondary power-play unit will help him put up some decent numbers at the NHL level, as well. The teen is currently owned in fewer than 1 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
• The Senators are seemingly willing to give goaltender Robin Lehner (owned in 31 percent of ESPN.com leagues) a shot for now. No great shock here, considering how well Lehner performed in Monday's win over the St. Louis Blues, and how quickly Craig Anderson fell apart against the Kings on Saturday. The organization can bark all it likes about Anderson's No. 1 status, but when push comes to shove, Senators coach Paul MacLean will go with whoever is more tuned-in at the moment.