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Rumor time: Bruins close to acquiring Tomas Kaberle, dealing Mark Stuart to Chicago

The ongoing speculation about where and when Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be traded has heated up to a level where it feels as if it will be done very soon and will actually happen. Today, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Bruins and Maple Leafs are getting closer to a deal and says that “failing a complete meltdown” in talks Kaberle is all but headed to Boston.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty takes things a bit further today saying that the rumored trade package from Boston to acquire Kaberle will consist of Blake Wheeler and a draft pick. What draft pick it is is unknown but the Bruins have two first round picks to work with, their own first round pick and the one they acquired from Toronto in the Phil Kessel deal. The Leafs pick is most likely not available as it could ultimately be a top ten choice while the Bruins’ pick would ultimately be a mid-to-late first round choice.

Haggerty also reports the Bruins may be close to dealing defenseman Mark Stuart to Chicago for a draft pick. That deal would be to gain freedom from Stuart’s contract rather than to help the team. Stuart has been a healthy scratch often of late in the Bruins lineup so it wouldn’t create lineup issues with the team.

Chris Boden from CSN Chicago’s Hawk Talk updates me on the Chicago side of things saying that if the Blackhawks want to acquire Stuart, they’ll have to find a way to move some salary out of there. Stuart has a cap hit of $1.675 and have just about a $1 million in cap space to deal with.

One way around that could be to move Nick Leddy down to the AHL again, but the Hawks like what they have seen in him. Moving Jordan Hendry or Nick Boynton down to the AHL via waivers could also help free up the salary needed to get Stuart on board. This also means that there could be another deal moving someone out of Chicago entirely as well.

Adding Kaberle to the Bruins would be a huge acquisition for them as it would give them a power play quarterback that they haven’t had in a long time. Kaberle would ultimately free Zdeno Chara up from those responsibilities and allow him to be the big shot on the point rather than trying to keep everyone in line on the point.

Giving up Wheeler would also shake the lineup up a bit and with the recent acquisition of Chris Kelly from Ottawa, would help make more sense with how the Bruins line up their forwards. Wheeler has bounced between playing the wing and center this season and while he’s got a load of talent, he goes through bouts of inconsistency in his play. He’s still very young (24 years-old) and can ultimately put it all together but to this point he’s not lived up to the hype befitting a former top five pick in the NHL draft.

Whether or not we’ll see any action on these players soon is unknown, of course, and teams are keeping everything close to the vest but we’ll certainly see plenty of talk about all these players before February 28th’s trade deadline.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.