Cross Checks: Jamie McBain

On the Jaromir Jagr front, it was still unclear as of Monday afternoon what will transpire. The Dallas Stars approached the Jagr camp three weeks ago about a contract extension, and the two sides have gone back and forth since. But still no contract extension.

Why? I'm hearing the Stars' front office is debating whether the team should sign or trade Jagr. And that decision had not been made as of Monday afternoon.

Other teams are absolutely calling with interest on Jagr. No surprise there, as he'd be a perfect rental. Hello, Boston Bruins?

But the Stars, who already dealt pending UFA Brenden Morrow, have to figure out if they should cash in on pending UFA Jagr or keep him around for another season. After all, the Stars were only two points out of a playoff spot Monday morning.

Sign him or trade him? To be determined.

Sens fielding calls on Bishop

A source told Monday that the Ottawa Senators have received "several calls" regarding goalie Ben Bishop the past day or so.

The Senators, I don't think, feel pressed in moving Bishop before Wednesday's deadline. They're more than happy to wait until the summer to figure out their three-goalie situation with Bishop, Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

However, if a team made a strong enough push on Bishop (hint, hint: top-six forward), then he could certainly be moved over the next few days.

Meanwhile, pending UFA blue-liner Sergei Gonchar is more than likely staying put. The Senators need him for the playoff run.

McBain's name comes up

One new name popped up Monday as potential trade bait: defenseman Jamie McBain.

I'm told the Carolina Hurricanes would be willing to move him if the offer was right. McBain is not a rental; he has one more year on his deal at $1.9 million in salary and $1.8 million on the cap. He's an intriguing name, to be sure, a guy who can provide some offense from the back end.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, I'm also hearing that, despite clearing waivers last week, forward Jussi Jokinen continues to generate interest from other teams that want Carolina to take a player back in return. So he could definitely move before Wednesday's deadline.

Jokinen is a player the Vancouver Canucks have on their radar, although I would say he's not at the top of their list.

All quiet for Clarkson, Devils

A source told Monday that the New Jersey Devils and David Clarkson's camp have still not held any talks regarding the pending UFA. Again, not entirely surprising. Veteran Devils GM Lou Lamoriello traditionally doesn't view the trade deadline as any kind of pressure point when it comes to his UFAs.

Jackets willing to trade a first-round pick

My TSN colleague Darren Dreger was first to report this, but I can also confirm that the Columbus Blue Jackets, suddenly in a playoff spot, are willing to move one of their three first-round picks in the June 30 draft if they can get a scoring forward in return. (In today's edition, the Columbus Post Dispatch also reported that the Jackets would be willing to move one of their picks.) Mind you, they wouldn't do that for a rental player; it has to be a player with term past this season, a source told

Still, that's a shift in thinking from when new GM Jarmo Kekalainen took over earlier this season and had only the long-term view in mind. It seems the incredible run the Jackets have been on over the past month-plus has forced him to try to throw his team a bone.

It also wouldn't surprise me if Columbus was willing to move a defenseman to get that top-six, scoring forward.

Stock up, stock down: Niittymaki solid

November, 12, 2010

Stock up

Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals

Never quite sure what to make of talented Washington forward Alexander Semin, the Other Alex in the nation's capital. Pretty sure the Caps feel the same way as Semin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and frankly doesn't really fit into their long-term plans. But Semin sure goes when he's hot, and he's hot now with seven goals in his past five games as the Caps have won six straight and sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Only Steven Stamkos has more than Semin's 12 goals on the season, and, as of Friday morning, Semin's 21 points were good enough for fourth in the NHL scoring race.

Antero Niittymaki, San Jose Sharks

There hasn't been much to get excited about from the up-and-down Sharks through the first part of the season, but journeyman netminder Antero Niittymaki has quietly laid claim to the starting job between the pipes. Niittymaki is 6-1-2 with a .929 save percentage. Although he was expected to take a backseat to Stanley Cup-winning netminder Antti Niemi, Niittymaki has yet to give up more than three goals in any one outing thus far and his 1.80 GAA is fifth in the league. Given how poorly Niemi has played thus far, the Sharks owe a debt of gratitude to Niittymaki for keeping them afloat.

Stock down

Jamie McBain, Carolina Hurricanes

Remember late last season when the young native of Edina, Minn., came up from the AHL and immediately potted three goals and 10 assists in just 14 games for the Canes? No? It does seem like a long time ago. Entering his first full-time NHL season, Jamie McBain, 22, has found the going significantly more difficult as he has yet to score this season, has just three assists and is without a point in seven straight contests. For a team that relies on its back end to produce points, that's not good news.

Kris Versteeg, Toronto Maple Leafs

You can't swing a cat without hitting someone in the Leafs' room whose stock is down, down, down. But for a team that ranks 29th in goals per game and has one win in its past 11 outings, looking for scoring isn't a bad place to find ways to improve. And taking a look at former Chicago Blackhawk Kris Versteeg is also a good place to look. A former rookie of the year candidate, Versteeg has just two goals on the season and has managed to dent the twine just once in his past 12 games.