In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues reportedly have top-four defensemen they’re willing to shop for help at forward.

Flames and Blues willing to shop defensemen for forwards.

Could the Flames shop Kris Russell for a second-line scorer?

Could the Flames shop Kris Russell for a second-line scorer?

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector (no relation) recently reported the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues “have solid, top-four defencemen they might be willing to trade for the right forward.” The Blues have three top forwards – Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny and Patrik Berglund – sidelined by injuries and possess a glut of defensemen after adding two new blueliners in Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson. With Ladislav Smid returning to the lineup, the Flames also possess an overabundance of blueliners.

Spector believes the Columbus Blue Jackets could be interested. He claims Blues GM Doug Armstrong prefers to move Carl Gunnarsson (a UFA at season’s end), but he could only fetch a “Cam Atkinson-type player” should they deal with the Jackets. If they want a top-six forward, Spector thinks they’ll have to dangle Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Flames could also use a top-six forward and Spector believes Kris Russell could fetch that return for sure. He notes the Chicago Blackhawks are sniffing around for a defenseman but can’t afford to fit Russell’s salary on their tight payroll. He believes the ‘Hawks are still trying to move disappointing winger Bryan Bickell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunno why Mark Spector’s so down on a return of Cam Atkinson for Carl Gunnarsson. A two-time 20-goal, 40-point winger (who has five points in eight games this season) is a decent return for a number-four blueliner. Granted, the under-sized Atkinson’s not a first-line player but he could fit in as a second-liner for the Flames or Blues without too much difficulty. His annual cap hit ($3.5 million) is a tad pricey but not unreasonable.

I don’t see the Blues shopping Shattenkirk, as he’s one of their top-two rearguards. The Flames could trade Russell for scoring depth, though there’s some speculation they’d prefer moving Dennis Wideman to free up cap space to sign Russell. I doubt the Flames and Blues have interest in Bickell and his $4 million annual cap hit.