Rumblings: Callahan, Kadri coming up in trade talk; Pens have extra D-men

The chatter has picked up this week as NHL teams prepare more and more for not only the March 5 trade deadline, but also the Feb. 7 Olympic trade freeze.

"There’s definitely more talking going on," one team executive told ESPN.com Monday night.

"Some of the bubble/lower teams have begun to share their lists of players they might move if they fall out of it."

The question is how much will actually happen before next Friday’s (Feb. 7) 3 p.m. ET Olympic trade freeze.

There are so many teams right up against the salary cap, which handcuffs some trades.

"Because of that, I still think most of the action, like 90 percent of it, happens after the Olympics, closer to March," said one player agent who has a player or two who likely will be on the move.

One player whose name I would have never predicted to even possibly be in the mix before the season is that of New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.

But he’s a pending UFA July 1 and so far contract talks have not gone well at all, a source told ESPN.com Tuesday.

All of which led to some rumblings that the Rangers are exploring the trade market in case talks don’t produce a contract extension before the March 5 trade deadline. My colleague Darren Dreger also reported on Callahan’s trade possibility during our Insider Trading segment Tuesday evening on TSN in Canada.

You can imagine the reaction when Rangers GM Glen Sather called some teams over the past week to inform them that Callahan might be available.

"That’s a pretty big name," one Western Conference source said.

Still, it seems hard to fathom Callahan moving, but it appears the Rangers are intent to not lose such a prized asset for nothing July 1 if they can’t get him signed. So the clock is ticking.

Stay tuned ...

Boyle's future

The Sharks and Dan Boyle's camp chatted over the weekend in the wake of the Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton signings, but I would certainly not say a deal is close as of now, although talks are ongoing.

Boyle remains the one veteran name who's unsigned in San Jose, as my colleague Craig Custance detailed in his Monday blog.

What I can gather at this point is the Sharks point to the 35-and-over rule (where deals count against the cap even if a player can’t complete it) and have suggested that a one-year deal makes the most sense. It’s what players in their late 30s have done in the past (such as Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Alfredsson).

But Boyle, I believe, wants a two-year deal at this point and feels he can probably play another three or four years of good hockey. And when you watch him play right now, you certainly can’t disagree with that. He remains a high-end force.

In the end, I can see both viewpoints.

We’ll see how it plays out ...

Kadri trade rumors

Hard to believe that Nazem Kadri can ignore the trade rumors that have circulated for the past two months, but that’s exactly what the Toronto Maple Leafs center has tried to do.

It may very well be that he never goes anywhere, but it’s a fact that other teams have called to inquire about him, which has led to the speculation in the NHL’s biggest hockey media market.

"I kind of just forget about it, I’ve been around long enough to not listen to speculation," Kadri told ESPN.com after Tuesday's morning skate. "The amount of guys that have been on the trading block the last few years and nothing ended up happening, that’s just crazy to me. So I just ignore it and go about my business."

No question he simply does not want to leave.

"Absolutely not. I’ve grown a lot of friendships and relationships here on this team, I’m close to a lot of guys. It would suck to leave. That’s why I’m trying to contribute as much I can to make them want me here," Kadri said.

Pens' blue line

The Penguins organization is loaded with depth on defense, which also means Pittsburgh has decisions to make.

Whether the Pens make some of those decisions before the March 5 trade deadline or wait until the offseason depends probably on how hard other teams make them think with potential offers for one or two of their blueliners.

They’ve got free-agent decisions to make, too, on defense with Team USA Olympian Brooks Orpik as well as Matt Niskanen -- both UFA eligible July 1. Niskanen is having a terrific year.

There are youngsters in the AHL such as Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin and Philip Samuelsson, as well as junior star prospect Derrick Pouliot, among others.

At least one if not two youngsters need NHL jobs next season, but there isn’t room for everyone.

So it certainly would not be surprising to see the Pens deal a kid away before March 5 to get a winger with Pascal Dupuis out for the season.

But the blue line will need shaking out past this season heading into next year.

I am curious about one thing: I wonder if there won’t be a few teams calling on Kris Letang. It just so happens that Letang’s new extension kicks in next season and his salary will more than double from $3.5 million this season to $7.25 million next year, the first in an eight-year, $58 million deal he signed last summer.

Now, I am not saying the Pens are thinking of shopping him, in fact I have heard zero evidence of that being the case. But what I can see happening is another team making an offer thinking the Pens are so loaded on defense organizationally and need to find money to re-sign Niskanen and/or Orpik, plus make room for the likes of Despres next season. ...

You can see how another team might be thinking it might be worth making an offer to Pittsburgh on Letang ahead of the June NHL draft. Food for thought.

Stars' Whitney on rental list

Another rental name to remember before the March 5 trade deadline is pending UFA Ray Whitney of the Dallas Stars.

The 41-year-old winger has a modified no-trade clause, but I think he’d welcome a change to a contender if the Stars fall out of it.

Right now, Dallas intends to see how things go before the Olympic break and then decide based on where the Stars are in the standings what the organization will do with some of their its, including Whitney.