- Brian Burke was short and to the point in nipping the “Versteeg sweepstakes” in the bud, telling The Star’s Kevin McGran “we’re not shopping him.” As the general manager of a 27th placed team, Burke owes consideration to any and all offers that come by his desk (such as the reported deal from last night’s HNIC panel) but it’s hard to envision how moving Versteeg, who has 23 points in his last 26 games, would represent anything but a lateral move at best for a club in search of offensive upgrades. The focus will continue to be to move some salary off the backend, a position of depth, for added offensive support (particularly a big body with some scoring upside) while keeping his eye on any big name options that might become available as the season wears on.
- Goalie scout Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild and MSP 2010 Maple Leafs Annual has a review of James Reimer’s first career NHL start after last night’s 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, turning away all 26 even strength shots and looking impressively calm and collected in the process. Jean Sebastien Giguere is back practicing after the latest flare up of his groin problem but is still not ready for a return to the lineup. Wilson hasn’t tipped his hand on who will get the start tomorrow night when the Leafs welcome the Bruins to the ACC. As solid as Reimer was in facing 33 shots in Ottawa versus the struggling Senators, a home game against the third place Bruins is a bit of a different animal for the 22-year-old to tackle. Regardless of whether Reimer gets his start sooner or later, last night’s win combined with his successes in the AHL to date (7-3-1, .920 sv%) is a good confidence builder as Reimer continues about his pro development.
- The Fourth Period reports interest from the San Jose Sharks (as well as LA and Phoenix) in defenceman Francois Beauchemin, who TFP reports as being actively shopped by Brian Burke. TFP names Devin Setoguchi as a potential person of interest for Burke in a deal between the sides. The once-thirty goal scorer (31 goals, 65 points in 2008-09) took a step back last season (20 goals, 16 assists) and has started 2010-11 even slower with just seven goals and five assists in 30 games played.
Beauchemin has had his fair share of miscues during his time in Toronto and leads the team in giveaways again this season with 51, but Burke will have to be careful in his consideration of how to fill the hole that will be left behind if he’s moved as Beauchemin plays a team-leading 24 minutes per night. Keith Aulie is an option from the Marlies having shown pretty well in 12 appearances but was only relied on for about 13 minutes a night on average when up. The rest of the responsibility would likely fall primarily to Phaneuf and Schenn as Mike Komisarek continues to struggle mightily. If Phaneuf and Schenn can handle a workload of upwards of 5 minutes more per night becomes a real question.
Beauchemin and Kaberle appear the Leafs’ most marketable options when it comes to moving salary off the back end in return for forward help. But with the Leafs’ receiving minimal offensive contributions from their defence core as is, moving Kaberle and his 24 points is a risky proposition. With Kaberle gone Luke Schenn would become the Leafs’ scoringest defenceman with eight points. By deductive logic Beauchemin appears the most likely candidate to be moved from the back end but it’s doubtful Burke is looking at it as a sell to the highest bidder scenario.