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Anton Babchuk In The Mix???? — Jiri Novotny to KHL??

Interesting tidbit appeared in The Sporting News, and is quickly making its way around the hockey online community:

During a conversation with Carolina GM Jim Rutherford about the Canes, the conversation shifted to the future of defenseman Anton Babchuk. Babchuk is coming off a 16-goal season but the restricted free agent rejected Carolina’s one-year offer. He changed agents, from Jay Grossman to Don Meehan and wants to play in the NHL next season. It won’t be with Carolina, but Rutherford said he sees a solution to Babchuk’s situation before training camp.

“Teams are feeling their way as to where the cap was and how much they had to give him. And now we’re getting right down to the end,” Rutherford told SportingNews.com. “There’s more teams poking around.”

Right now there are three teams showing serious interest in the Russian defenseman, although one team has the inside track. With Carolina’s roster basically set for this season, look for Carolina to ask for a prospect, most likely a defenseman, in return for Babchuk.

“I would expect that something is going to happen with him prior to camp this week,” Rutherford said.

No specific indication that the CBJ are one of the clubs in the mix, but I would be shocked if it were not at least on Howson’s radar.  Big (6’5″) kid with a strong right handed shot.  Carolina was obviously not the right situation for him, but most think he has the whole KHL thing out of his system.  Online speculation seems to put CBJ, Rangers and San Jose in the running. 

I have been a vocal advocate for giving this a shot, and hope we are one of the teams in play here.  25 years old, big shot, power play experience, and could be signed long term for under $1.5 million, in all likelihood.  We have prospects that could fit the bill for Carolina, so this is worth following.

In other news, former Jacket Jiri Novotny has apparently signed with HK Atlant of the KHL, according to a post on the HF Boards, citing a Czech web posting.  My Czech is a little weak, so I can neither confirm nor deny. 

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