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Friday, February 25, 2011
Latest rumblings: Kings' plans, Ales Hemsky/David Booth interest, more

By Pierre LeBrun

The Los Angeles Kings raised eyebrows Friday when they put Marco Sturm on waivers, prompting many to believe that perhaps cap space was being cleared for an imminent trade.

Not so. Not yet, anyway.

"This is strictly for roster flexibility at the deadline," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told ESPN.com on Friday.

The Chicago Blackhawks did the same thing with Nick Boynton on Friday.

Right now, both clubs are carrying the maximum 23 bodies at the NHL level. Should L.A. or Chicago want to acquire a player between now and Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, it could demote Sturm or Boynton without either player needing 24 hours to clear waivers. That's the key.

Lombardi, meanwhile, also told us at 2:15 p.m. ET on Friday that no trade was imminent. Of course, as I've learned throughout the years, it takes only one phone call to change that.

What now for the Kings? Lombardi would not say.

As I reported earlier this week, the Kings have interest in Brad Richards, Ales Hemsky and David Booth. Other NHL sources confirm that the Kings have had talks this week with all three of their teams. At this point, a trade for Richards does not sound like it has much of a chance, so it would appear that Booth or Hemsky is the best bet.

Stay tuned.

The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, are knocking on the playoff door and could use some help on offense. Yes, GM Chuck Fletcher is looking closely at the NHL trade market, but he's not sure anything will come his way.

"It's not a real deep market,'' Fletcher told ESPN.com on Friday. "There are more buyers than sellers. The prices for players are a little inflated right now. ... Our focus is on getting our injured players back."

Most notably, top-six forward Guillaume Latendresse and star captain Mikko Koivu. Fletcher said that Latendresse, out most of the season, might be back in seven to 10 days, while Koivu is two to three weeks away.

"There's some games we can use an extra goal, no question, but you look at the players we have out, and they would upgrade our offense by a lot," Fletcher said.

Elsewhere Friday afternoon:

• As expected, the Buffalo Sabres put defenseman Craig Rivet on re-entry waivers Friday. There's a good chance he'll be claimed because a team would have to pay only half of his remaining salary. (CapGeek says his remaining cap hit for a claiming team would be $404,570 this season.) A handful of teams told me, on the condition that I not name them, that they were considering claiming him. We'll find out at noon ET Saturday.

• J.P. Barry, the agent for Chris Phillips, spoke again with Senators GM Bryan Murray on Friday. Still no resolution at this point. The UFA-to-be blueliner could sign an extension or be dealt.

• Will defenseman John-Michael Liles move? The Colorado Avalanche continue to get calls about him. Liles has one more year on his deal next season paying him $4.55 million ($4.2 million cap hit). Liles has a limited no-trade clause; last season he listed 12 teams he'd be willing to be traded to. Toronto and Buffalo are among those teams.

I mention those two teams because Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is best friends with Liles going back to their Michigan State days. The Leafs, as we reported earlier, have made inquires on Liles in part because GM Brian Burke had Liles in the U.S. lineup at the 2009 world championships. The blueliner put up nine points (1-8) in nine games that year in Switzerland.

• Penguins forward Mike Comrie has been out most of the season. He's on the mend, however. "Trying to get back by April," Comrie texted to us.