The latest on Patrick Marleau, Cam Ward and Mark Fayne, plus updates on the Flames, Avalanche, Flyers & more in your NHL rumor mill.

Patrick Marleau on the trade block?

San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau is back in the rumor mill again.

San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau is back in the rumor mill again.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau keeps popping up in the otherwise tight trade market right now. The 36-year-old Marleau has a full no-movement clause and an annual salary-cap hit of $6.66 million through 2016-17. Friedman says there’s no evidence that management has asked him to waive it. He also said it’s uncertain who’s pushing for it.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS/CSNBAYAREA.COM: Curtis Pashelka and Kevin Kurz reports Marleau laughed off the speculation. “Starting early this year,” he joked. He adds he’ll do what he always does whenever his name comes up in the rumor mill. “I just go out and play. I can’t control what people are saying, or anything like that. Just focus on what I can control.” Marleau also said he hasn’t been approached by management about waiving his NMC. nor would he speculate if he ever sees himself accepting a trade out of San Jose.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During his long career with the Sharks, Marleau’s name has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill.  Perhaps management genuinely wants to move him, but unless he’s willing to waive his movement clause, he’s not going anywhere. Same goes for teammate Joe Thornton, who was also frequently mentioned in last season’s rumor mill. 

Highlights from Garrioch’s “Insider Trading.”

OTTAWA SUN:  Bruce Garrioch reports the struggling Colorado Avalanche “badly want help on defense,” preferably an impact player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs aren’t dealing from a position of strength here. They’re floundering early in the standings. Rival GMs will want at least a good young player as part of the return for an impact defenseman. Even then, there’s probably no one available at this point in the season who can significantly improve the Avalanche blueline. Such a player will come with a hefty price tag.

Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving “has been trying to gauge the market for defencemen Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell.” While they like Wideman, Garrioch believes they want to shed the blueliner’s $5.25 million annual cap hit to free up cap room to re-sign RFAs Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wideman’s salary and full no-movement clause significantly limits where Treliving can deal him. Russell, a UFA next summer who lacks a movement clause, is easier to shop, but I suspect Treliving prefers to re-sign him. 

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello is looking around for goaltending help and is willing to discuss anyone on his roster except Morgan Reilly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Few decent options are available for Lamoriello. The Flames have three goalies but none are currently an improvement over James Reimer and the sidelined Jonathan Bernier. The Minnesota Wild would love to move veteran Niklas Backstrom, but he won’t help the Leafs at this stage in his career. The Anaheim Ducks might be willing to move Anton Khudobin, but they won’t listen to offers for promising John Gibson and they certainly aren’t moving Frederik Andersen. The Montreal Canadiens could move Dustin Tokarski once Carey Price returns from injury, but they’re not in any hurry to make a deal right now. 

New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero could be checking to see if defenseman Eric Gelinas has any value in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt he does. He’s earning third-pairing minutes and was a healthy scratch three times so far this season. 

Contract talks between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steven Stamkos remain quiet.

A couple of teams could have interest in Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Maple Leafs are among them? If so, he could only be a short-term acquisition as he’s a UFA next summer whose current cap hit is $6.3 million. If the Hurricanes do move Ward, it could be later in the season if they’re out of playoff contention. Right now, he’s helping to keep them in the postseason hunt.

Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall’s had no success trying to move defenseman Luke Schenn. It’s unlikely center Vincent Lecavalier will retired to free up cap space for the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers probably won’t be able to move Schenn until later in the season, which doesn’t help them right now. They’re stuck with Lecavalier. 

The Chicago Blackhawks could be in the market for a defenseman before the Feb 29 trade deadline. Other clubs seeking blueline help include Buffalo, Columbus, Colorado, St. Louis, Boston and Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the St. Louis Blues seek blueline depth, why are they rumored to be shopping Carl Gunnarsson? The Ducks also have plenty of good young defensemen. Right now, they need more from their scoring forwards. 

Is Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne available?

TSN (via Chris Nichols): On Friday, Darren Dreger said there might be a trade market for Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne, but he wasn’t sure what that would be. While there are teams seeking a top-four defenseman, Fayne isn’t being mentioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fayne was an analytics darling when he played with the New Jersey Devils, but his performance has declined since joining the Oilers. Right now, I don’t see him as a reliable top-four defenseman.