The tie's coming undone.
This is part one of a preview series on potential trade deadline targets for the Leafs. Important to keep in mind is the framework in which I’m analyzing these trade options in this series: BrianÂ Burke will be weighing the future against the present. Burke’s only going to be dealing for immediate help if it equally benefits the team long term. There will be no selling out for this season; as much as Burke is feeling the pressure to make the playoffs in his fourth season as Leafs czar, more patience is needed as his team simply isn’t at that stage of the competition yet.
The attraction to the 37-year-old pending UFA is one, how well he’s fared in front of a porous Islanders defense since his return to the NHL, and two, his history of success under head coach Ron Wilson in San Jose.
The Islanders have struggled to find consistent reliability in net as much as the Leafs have in recent seasons, so dealing Nabokov as opposed to signing him seems unlikely at this point barring an inability to come to terms in contract negotiations.
The second half of the season is underway, and the Maple Leafs continue to struggle. Naturally, speculation has begun to shift to what can be done to improve the roster, and which buyers on the market may have interest in what the Leafs have to offer.
There’s nothing like an 0-6-1 start to push the rumour mill into full swing. Â Â The following is a quick rundown of some of the talk working its way through the grapevine.
As always, this is only talk — as in, players rumoured to be under consideration, not deals that are on the brink of consummation. Â Take it for what it is.
Let’s fight off the Monday blahs with a quick look at what’s happening around the NHL. A quick update on various issues that may impact the Maple Leafs, such as the Phil Kessel contract negotiations, the Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards trade rumors, and what the signing of Wade Dubielewicz may mean to the goaltending situation in Minnesota.
Leafs Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.Â The long wait for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s decision is over.Â Reports indicate that the tender has finally chosen the Toronto Maple Leafs after a long wooing process from a number of interested teams.
The contract is a one year deal totaling $900,000.Â Many expect Gustavsson to be brought in as Vesa Toskala’s backup and be a constant source of competition for our Finnish goaltender.Â Of course, there is the possibility that “the best goaltender outside of the NHL” exceeds expectations and steals the number one spot.
Five trades that almost happened.Â Count ‘em, five separate deals. Â So close, yet so far away.
A very good source has it that Brian Burke saw five separate draft day deals fall apart in the last minute of each.Â Â He worked his tail off on each, only to see the other teams back out in the end for a myriad of reasons.Â Yet despite these disappointments,Â Burke was still able to land a very good player in Nazim Kadri at #7, so the draft wasn’t a total loss by any means.
“The Minnesota Wild are building a list of candidates to replace fired general manager Doug Risebrough. Sources tell TSN the Wild have contacted the Toronto Maple Leafs seeking permission to speak with Dave Nonis, the Leafs’ senior vice president of hockey operations.”
As the goals against continue to pile up, so do the questions regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future between the pipes. Last night’s 7-5 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins officially moved the Leafs to the basement of the NHL in terms of goaltending and defensive play with an astounding total of 274 goals allowed (3.41 GAA). Combine that with a league worst 88.4% save percentage and you’ve got some serious issues. The team directly above them? Andrew Raycroft and the Colorado Avalanche. Ugh.