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Steve Simmons

The John Michael Liles buyout watch is officially over, for this year, anyway.

Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson are still RFAs, and the Leafs currently have just 4.9M in cap space to retain them both. While many have pointed out that Korbinian Holzer and Trevor Smith are accounted for on the Leafs capgeek roster even though neither figures to make the team, it also has to be said that the Leafs aren’t going to play with a roster holding the bare minimum of 12 forwards and six defensemen all year. Something has to give.

There are a few different ways things can turn out now.

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The Leafs should've foreseen Luongo's availability, anticipated Tampa's interest in Luongo, and offer sheeted Stamkos last year to win the Luongo sweepstakes. Burke is an idiot.Â
-Steve Simmons

Like most Leaf fans, I have a strong distaste for the writing of Steve Simmons, and I will never understand how someone paid to write about sports for a living becomes so jaded and has such a sense of entitlement. What perplexes me the most is how he is regularly allowed to get away with these half-though-out articles that most people would be embarrassed to post on HFBoards.

Take Saturdays offering: “The Leafs Coulda, Shoulda Signed Stamkos.” (click at your own peril; actually, don’t click).

The title is already somewhat misleading as the premise is based in signing Stamkos to an offer sheet, and it would result in Tampa Bay matching the offer damaging their cap situation not actually adding Stamkos to the Leafs. Of course, the headline is purposely this way to sucker in people like myself who normally don’t give Simmons the time of day.

While the title of the article indicates that in some way he is writing about a Stamkos situation from a year ago, Simmons is actually writing about the present day belief that the Lightning, the Leafs, and the Blackhawks are the front runners for landing Roberto Luongo, and that if Stamkos had a higher cap hit Tampa Bay would not be able to pursue him.

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It seems the “Kaberle to Columbus for the 4th overall pick” speculation is picking up some steam. Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch  had this to say in his hockey blog this afternoon:

“The rumor percolating in Canada that Toronto will offer defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Blue Jackets for the No. 4 pick appears to be just that — a rumor. But don’t be surprised, we’re told, if Toronto GM Brian Burke makes that offer in the days or hours leading up to the NHL entry draft, set for June 25-26 in Los Angeles. It’s an enticing trade, to be sure, as Kaberle is a very polished and skilled defenseman. But would Howson make that trade? Hard to say. On the surface, it’s a very fair offer, as it immediately fills one of the Blue Jackets’ glaring needs. But look further, and it’s the kind of trade that Howson — and lots of other GMs — would be reluctant to make. Kaberle is signed at $4.25 million — a fair wage — but only for one more season. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the 2010-11 season. It seems unlikely that Howson would give up the No. 4 overall pick for one season of Kaberle.”

Now this is interesting on a number of levels. The first being that this is the first source, and a Columbus one at that, other than Steve Simmons’ speculative article that connects Kaberle to trade talks for the 4th overall pick. However, there is always the possibility that the writer is simply basing these assumptions on the same article we already know about. The second point is that the writer, and I’m assuming he’s a Jackets fan, believes the trade offer to be “very fair” as it “fills one of their glaring needs”. Lastly, Portzline suggests that it’s unlikely Howson would give up such a high draft pick for “one year of Kaberle”, possibly hinting at the fact that Columbus would give it some serious thought if Tomas came with a multi-year contract extension. Food for thought.