Jason Brough

Report: Blackhawks have ‘serious interest’ in Hamhuis and Vrbata

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The Chicago Blackhawks, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji, have “serious interest” in a pair of pending unrestricted free agents on the Vancouver Canucks — defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata.

Assuming the report is true, click here and here to better understand it from Chicago’s perspective.

It’s still not known if Hamhuis is willing to waive his no-trade clause. That’s a decision with which the 33-year-old has been wrestling.

“If you look at it from a pure hockey aspect — if I was chasing the money — leaving would be the best option to have the most exposure, if I was traded to a top-end team,” he told The Province recently. “But there’s more to it than that in my decision. I look at it that it’s a great situation in Vancouver for me and for my family. I certainly would consider what that would do to the family, too.”

As for Vrbata, some are skeptical about Chicago’s interest in the 34-year-old who’s currently out with an injury:

That being said, there have reportedly been scouts from the ‘Hawks taking a look at him.

As for a potential return, the Canucks could theoretically have interest in a young defenseman like Ville Pokka. It’s worth wondering if they’d be willing to take on Bryan Bickell’s contract to sweeten any deal.

Hamonic’s agent sees trade as more likely to happen in the offseason

Travis Hamonic, Tyson Strachan
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When Travis Hamonic‘s trade request became public knowledge in November, he quickly let it be known that he’d be willing to finish the season with the Islanders.

And that, according to his agent, remains the most likely scenario.

“I think it’s more of a trade that happens draft time, offseason,” Kevin Epp told TSN 1040 radio yesterday. “He’s playing such good hockey and the Islanders are in a playoff position.”

Hamonic, 25, leads the Isles in average ice time (23:44) and has four goals and 10 assists in 54 games. He’s under contract through 2019-20 for a cap hit just below $4 million.

It’s believed he’d like to be moved somewhere in Western Canada — if not Winnipeg (where he’s from), then possibly Edmonton, Calgary, or Vancouver.

The Oilers, of course, are desperate to upgrade their defense, and they’re willing to deal.

Related: With Byfuglien signed, what is Trouba’s future in Winnipeg?

Report: The Canucks are willing to trade a bunch of players with minimal value

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski connects for a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Vancouver Canucks are “open for business” and willing to trade Linden Vey, Matt Bartkowski, Ronalds Kenins, Adam Cracknell, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust and Yannick Weber.

Business may be slow.

Notably missing from the list are winger Radim Vrbata (currently injured, though not believed to be seriously) and defenseman Dan Hamhuis (who owns a full no-trade clause and doesn’t particularly want to leave). Both are pending unrestricted free agents.

Among the players reportedly available, Bartkowski could possibly have some value as a depth add-on. He’s a pending UFA with a $1.75 million cap hit. Then again, maybe not. He hasn’t exactly earned sterling reviews for his play, and his style is not particularly amenable to the rugged postseason.

The rest have probably been available all season for the right price.

Or any price at all.

Free, even.

Related: Finding no takers, Canucks assign Prust to AHL

Report: Kings will only add d-man if price is ‘modest’

2014 Stanley Cup Final Media Day
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When Kings GM Dean Lombardi pulled the trigger on last year’s acquisition of defenseman Andrej Sekera, he knew the conditional first-round draft pick, plus prospect Roland McKeown, was a hefty price to surrender to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Lombardi defended the deal by arguing that Sekera “was one of the better defensemen on the market.”

But then the Kings missed the playoffs. And after that, Sekera signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers.

Which, upon review, made the trade a disaster.

This year, Lombardi is in a similar position, in that he wouldn’t mind adding a defenseman prior to the deadline. But according to the following tidbit from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, he might not be so aggressive this time around:

The Los Angeles Kings were looking hard at the market for the longest time, wondering what might make sense in terms of a defenseman. But a source suggested to me Tuesday evening that Kings GM Dean Lombardi has now decided the high prices on the thin rental-defenseman market may not be worth it. I still think Lombardi is willing to add a defenseman if the price is modest, but I don’t think he’s going to be as aggressive as he was last year when he went for Andrej Sekera for a first-round pick.

It’s worth noting that the Kings don’t actually have a first-round pick this summer; that belongs to Carolina. So even if Lombardi was willing to give up a first-rounder, it would have to be in 2017. And let’s not forget that the Kings traded their 2015 first-round pick to Boston as part of the Milan Lucic deal.

What about prospects? Well, the Kings don’t have a whole lot in the way of those either. Their best one is probably 19-year-old winger Adrian Kempe, and they’d be loath to give him up. He represents the only first-round pick they’ve made since 2012 (when they took Tanner Pearson 30th overall).

Related: Drew Doughty is logging a ton of ice time

Richards has drug charges stayed (Updated with statement)

Washington Capitals Mike Richards speaks during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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From CBC News:

The drug charges that have shadowed NHLer Mike Richards since June 2015 have been stayed.

The judge stayed the proceedings on Wednesday in a Manitoba court, which means the prosecution has been discontinued. Unlike charges that have been withdrawn completely, stayed charges can be brought back within one year, though that tends to be rare.

Court documents listed the controlled substance as oxycodone.

Richards, 31, signed with the Washington Capitals last month. On Monday, he scored his first goal for his new team while logging 15:58 of ice time in a 3-2 win over Arizona.

Update:

Via CSN Mid-Atlantic, following is a statement from Richards’ attorney, David Humphrey, and agent, Pat Morris:

“Mike Richards was charged with a single count of simple possession of a controlled substance. As the Crown had elected to proceed summarily, this was the Canadian equivalent of a misdemeanor.

“Mr. Richards always maintained that he would plead not guilty and would defend the case vigorously. After the Crown brief was disclosed to the defence, Mr. Richards’ counsel advised the Crown of fatal defects in the prosecution case. The Crown and defense agreed that follow-up investigation was warranted. That investigation has been completed and the Crown decided to stay the charge, thereby ending prosecution.

“Mr. Richards is gratified that the Crown fairly reviewed the case and reasonably recognized that prosecution was not warranted.

“Mr. Richards wishes to extend his heartfelt appreciation to his loyal fans and especially to his parents, brothers, extended family and friends for their love and support.

“Mr. Richards is now entirely focused on his hockey career and he and his legal counsel will not be commenting further on the successful resolution of this charge.”

Related: Caps confident that Richards’ legal issues ‘will work out in his favor’