Updates on Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal, Luke Schenn, Cam Fowler, Alexander Semin, Eric Gelinas and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

Roundup of Friedman trade speculation.

Eric Staal is reportedly no closer to re-signing with the Hurricanes.

Eric Staal is reportedly no closer to re-signing with the Hurricanes.

SPORTSNET (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Elliotte Friedman reports he doesn’t know how much Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is asking for in contract talks, but claims he’s heard the two sides aren’t close. Friedman believes Staal will be rejuvenated playing elsewhere, suggesting he’d look good with the Nashville Predators or New York Rangers.

Friedman also believes someone will take a chance on Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn within the next month.  He’s also hearing Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler has popped up in the rumor mill. He wonders if the Montreal Canadiens will waive or trade little-used winger Alexander Semin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Look for the Staal trade rumors to ramp up in January if there’s no indication he’s getting close to agreeing to a new deal with the Hurricanes. As for Schenn, I think it’s going to take longer for the Flyers to find any suitors for him. The more the Ducks struggle, the more Fowler’s name will get floated in trade rumors. For the record, Ducks GM Bob Murray claims he’s not going to rush into any deals. And finally, if Semin washes out with the Habs, I don’t believe anyone will have interest in him. 

Latest on the Penguins.

TSN (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger wonders if another early playoff exit by the Pittsburgh Penguins could lead to significant changes. He claims the Penguins are among the clubs seeking a top-four defenseman and believes GM Jim Rutherford will try to land one by the trade deadline. If that fails to get down and the club doesn’t improve, Dreger wonders if Evgeni Malkin’s name get tossed into the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just over $337K in cap space, Rutherford will find it difficult to make the dollars fit to land a suitable defenseman. As for Malkin, an offseason trade is entirely up to him. He has a full no-movement clause. Just like last spring when his name first popped up in the rumor mill, if he’s unwilling to leave the Penguins, there’s nothing Rutherford can do about it. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: 

Blackhawks still seek a defenseman.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Despite the imminent return of defensemen Duncan Keith and Michal Rozsival, Chris Kuc reports if they don’t improve their blueline depth, it will prevent them from successfully defending their Stanley Cup title. A source claims GM Stan Bowman is on the lookout for a No.4 defenseman, though there are salary-cap constraints. Kuc also believes such a move could mean a forward and a defenseman could be moved in this deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With only $39K in cap space, Bowman faces a difficult challenge freeing up sufficient cap space to land that defenseman he needs. Mind you, such a deal doesn’t have to happen now. The market should improve near the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but it still won’t be easy. 

Gelinas facing a short-term future in New Jersey?

NJ.COM: Rich Chere wonders if defenseman Eric Gelinas has a long-term future with the New Jersey Devils. He’s been a healthy scratch in recent games and continues to struggle.