Darius Kasparaitis’ 10-day conditioning stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack, in and of itself, is not earth-shattering news.  Coach Tom Renney has been most displeased with Kasparaitis’ conditioning and game-readiness after the veteran defenseman’s two surgeries during the summer.  However, nothing is ever as simple as it seems at MSG.  There are other circumstances that must be considered.

Is Glen Sather looking to clear some salary cap room?  While the conditioning stint doesn’t alleviate any payroll problems, it could be the first step in that process.  If the Rangers place Darius on waivers, and he clears, his $2.9 million salary comes off the books – much like the Devils did with Alexander Mogilny last year.  If the Rangers then attempt to bring him back, another team could claim him and the Rangers would be responsible for half his remaining salary.

To add additional intrigue and further complicate matters, the Rangers and Blackhawks have been scouting each other.  Former NHL blueliner Marc Bergevin has been scouting the Blueshirts during their West Coast swing while Don Maloney was at Chicago’s game against the New York Islanders.  While it could be coincidence, it could be the precursor to a trade.

Internet reports have stated that Chicago is looking to trade veteran defenseman Jassen Cullimore.  Larry Brooks of the “NY Post” says the Rangers have some interest.  While the 6’5” and 244-ound Cullimore has the size the team craves, he is not as physical as he should be.  Also, Cullimore’s $1.9 million salary means the Blackhawks will have to take some salary back – not an easy situation to negotiate because Chicago is only a couple of million dollars under the salary cap.

Brooks added more fuel to the fire in his November 1,2006 column when he wrote that the Blackhawks are interested in Petr Prucha.  While Sather is no Lou Lamoriello, he sure is no Isiah Thomas because a Prucha for Cullimore trade would be an unmitigated disaster.  Even Brooks couldn’t write that trade proposal with a straight face.

However, our Mr. Brooks floated the name of 21-year-old rearguard Brent Seabrook.  The 6’3” and 215-pound Seabrook is an interesting prospect because he has the potential to be the power play quarterback the Rangers need.  However, with the likes of Marc Staal and Bobby Sanguinetti knocking on the NHL door, it doesn’t make sense to move Prucha for Seabrook.

On the other hand, if Chicago were willing to include defenseman Cam Barker’s name to the trade talks business would (and should) pick up.  The 20-year-old Barker is the same size as Seabrook with the caveat that Barker uses his size and is a physical two-defenseman who also has the potential to lead the power play.

With Michal Handzus out for the year and Martin Havlat out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, Chicago GM Dale Tallon is feeling pressure to swing a deal to bolster his offense.  If the Blackhawks are seriously interested in Prucha, then any trade discussion has to start with Barker.

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