More Rumors – Feb 6, 2012

Red Wings looking to fill the hole in goal

Gomez drought turns one

Tampa Bay Lightning soon to face dilemma over glut of healthy defensemen

Red Wings looking to fill the hole in goal

The Red Wings’ backup goaltending position is up for grabs.

Jimmy Howard is obviously the starter, or will be again after he recovers from a broken right index finger that’ll keep him out for the next couple weeks.

Ty Conklin or Joey MacDonald could lay claim to the back-up job, unless general manager Ken Holland decides to find a reinforcement before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

“Absolutely,” said coach Mike Bab***** of whether the competition is wide open after Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss in Edmonton. “Somebody has to win games. We have to win games.”

MacDonald certainly made a statement after salvaging the Wings a point, in relief of Conklin.

MacDonald, recalled from Grand Rapids Friday, started the second period and made 22 saves against the Oilers, including several spectacular stops in overtime.

“He (MacDonald) did a good job obviously,” coach Mike Bab***** said. “He made some saves and we needed some saves at that point of the game.”

Gomez drought turns one

The one-year anniversary of Scott Gomez’s last NHL goal has come and gone, and the question facing the Canadiens is what to do with the high-priced center.

Gomez was held off the scoresheet Sunday as the Canadiens shut out the Winnipeg Jets 3-0. His last NHL goal was Feb. 5, 2011 against the New York Rangers, the team that traded him and his burdensome contract to Montreal. In that span, he has played 59 games — he has missed 30 games with injury — and has taken 122 shots on goal.

The ideal situation would be to find someone to take Gomez at the trade deadline, but his lack of production and his $7.5 million salary make that highly unlikely. There are several other scenarios, but the reality is that Gomez will be with the team for the remainder of the season, and his future might not be decided until after a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

One possibility is to buy out Gomez before July 1. The contract he signed with the Rangers is front-loaded, and he is owed $5 million and $4 million over the final two seasons. If the Canadiens were to buy him out, they would have to pay him $6 million, but they would have significant savings as far as the salary cap is concerned. If the present structure is maintained in the new CBA, the Canadiens would be charged $1.5 million a season for four seasons rather than $7.3 million over the next two seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning soon to face dilemma over glut of healthy defensemen

When defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron returns from a back injury — and that is simply a matter of conditioning, coach Guy Boucher said — the Lightning will have a glut on the blue line that is a problem and an opportunity.

The problem: With Bruno Gervais and Brendan Mikkelson gaining confidence and playing time, Boucher, who likes to play seven defensemen, will have difficult decisions because he will have eight available.

The opportunity: GM Steve Yzerman will have organizational depth to manage, never a bad thing with the Feb. 27 trade deadline three weeks away.

It is interesting Gervais and Mikkelson are forcing the issue.

Gervais, 27, was a healthy scratch most of the season’s first half but has played in 20 straight games. Averaging 13:29 of ice time, he has played more in six of his past eight games, has three goals and eight points for the season and is plus-1. Mikkel¬≠son, 24, acquired Jan. 6 from the Flames for center Blair Jones, has zero points but is plus-3 and averaging 13:46 of ice time.

“Gervais is a smart guy. Mikkel¬≠son is mobile and can move,” Boucher said. “They’re both heads-up. I’d say both are down-to-earth guys who actually are very calm about things, so they’re calm about their tandem and what they need to do.”