Odds and Ends: Deadline Edition
-Draft pick be damned, being 7-1-1 in our last nine against the Senators is truly heart-warming. P.S., it’s time to point the finger where it needs to be pointed, Bryan Murray… trade Jason Spezza and shake things up in the old country club. Also trade Nick Foligno. To us. For Hollweg.
-The CBC crew noted last night during the broadcast that only the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs have more than ten players with ten goals apiece this season. This may lead one to believe that defense remains this club’s primary infirmity and therefore the region of the Leafs’ roster that should be bolstered at the June Entry Draft, but not so fast. A lot changes if we do indeed deal Tomas Kaberle, Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina, whether it’s in the next three days or in the summer. Top six offensive talent is the glaring need in the Leafs’ ranks on paper, and if and when Burke executes the expected changes, it will also become the reality.
-Pierre LeBrun and Bruce Garrioch have both added fuel to the fire of the Chris Pronger-to-Toronto rumours originally reported by Am640′s Andy Frost. Initially, I passed it off as your typical connect-the-dots, groundless rumour that often times surface this time of year, but it’s hard to believe there isn’t something to it now that it continues to make its rounds among some respectable names in the mainstream media, and by that I mean just Pierre LeBrun. Burke’s shot down the possibility in the past, but I contacted him anyway in wake of the recent reports. He again quashed the rumour. On the surface, acquiring a 34-year-old blue-liner that will improve your team in the short-term doesn’t seem to comport with the re-building gameplan, but can you think of a better mentor for Luke Schenn or a better model for the brand of game Burke intends on implementing with his defense core? But even if Burke likes that logic, it boils down to the asking price… which based on the rumoured offer from the Bruins (Joe Colborne, first round pick, Mark Stuart) makes this rumour unfeasible. Moving on.
-Jamal Mayers seems to have become a potential pre-deadline trade candidate with the Detroit Red Wings, looking to add some jam to their fourth line, rumoured as a potential suitor. Brian Burke’s named restoring the picks lost in Cliff Fletcher’s Ryan Hollweg and Jamal Mayers mistakes as a priority, so it can be expected Mayers’ short tenure with the Leafs will be coming to an end if Burke can garner a mid-level pick. (Burke probably has his sights set on replacing the missing 4th rounder). After two/thirds of the season that had many Leafs fans wondering what it was Fletcher saw in Mayers, he’s finally started to show the shift-to-shift jump that earned him several appearances on Canada’s World Championships side. However, Mayers was always kind of a temporary fill-in who could add some grit and leadership to a youthful squad lacking toughness. As such, it makes most sense to part ways and assure the Leafs’ management team has a full array of draft picks at their disposal in June.
-Rumour has it that Dominic Moore is demanding $2.5-3 million in contract negotiations, so he’s probably the intermediary for retrieving the lost second round pick. The Chicago Blackhawks seem the front-runner here, although I’m sure there’s plenty of clubs that would love a Moore-type to add to the fold for the stretch run. It’s unfortunate that Moore likely won’t be kept around for the re-build – and maybe even as a leader once the Leafs are ready to compete again – but I can’t see Burke offering $2.5-3 million to one of his bottom six plumbers. What I’ve been hearing is that Burke has drawn his line in the sand at $1.5-2 million. Update from a source: “He may in fact sign if Burke is willing to give him 3 years plus pad his current offer a tad, but Burke will have none of this… heâ€™s a shrewd negotiator and will not overpay.”
-Interesting update from a source on the Toskala situation: “Donâ€™t know if anything is substantial here but a few teams have inquired about Toskalaâ€™s injury situation as there may be a small market for him. The Red Wings reportedly may be one of them but donâ€™t be surprised if they make a play for Lehtinen/Backstrom especially if theyâ€™re willing to part with Hudler.” I doubt, if there is a market, that it’s at all enticing, and as such the likelihood of a Toskala trade remains slim. Burke’s best bet is to wait and see if he can come back healthy next fall and put together his first consistently stellar season as a starting goaltender. Acquiring a reliable back-up in the off-season to push Vesa, and then re-evaluating next season, appears to be the wisest route to take.
-From the same source: “The Kings may be dangling one of their d prospects- Teubert, Hickey or maybe goalie Bernier – to add an established d-man and a top 2 center especially if they could get someone to take Handzus, which is extremely unlikely.” We all know Tomas Kaberle’s trade list contains strictly Eastern Conference teams and that Burke doesn’t want to take back a salary that extends beyond next season (Hanzus’ $4M/year contract lasts until the summer of 2011). But this is definitely worth exploring for Burke, perhaps in the summer time.
-Allan Muir, in an armchair piece at SI.com, proposed the following deal: Tomas Kaberle to Florida for Shawn Matthias, Keaton Ellerby, a first and a second round pick. That seems awfully steep from Florida’s perspective, and a massive coup from the Leaf perspective, but disregarding specifics, Florida seems like a possible Kaberle trading partner. There is a growing possibility that Jacques Martin will elect to hold onto Jay Bouwmeester for the playoff run and instead trade his rights at the draft if he can’t ultimately re-sign him. Not only could Martin re-unite McCabe and Kaberle to bolster the power-play for the playoff run, but he’d also have Kaberle as insurance if he has to deal JayBo’s rights. In that deal he’d probably be able to restore much of what he had to give up to acquire Kaberle to begin with. Just a thought.
-Lastly, thanks to all of our readers for making the last month the best yet at MLHS, with 245 000 page views on the month. I encourage all readers to get involved in the comments section and post your view… the more the better, unless you’re a bickering Pens fan here to lose your mind over a speculated and harmless trade rumour. I’ve been made aware of the troubles many users are having with the spam filter when trying to comment. If you’re having this problem, e-mail me at [email protected]