With the trade deadline just weeks away, here are a few rumors that are doing more than just making the rounds.
Brian Burke has given the league his list of untouchables for advanced phone call knowledge. To no surprise, Luke Schenn is on that list. Mikhail Grabovski is the second name to appear, while John Mitchell has worked his way into the untouchable plumber on the team. His strong skating abilities and willingness to get into the corner proves effective on the fourth line, despite his untapped scoring capabilities. These are the three players Burke plans to build around. What will be interesting is who he will build around them. Here is whatâ€™s making the rounds.
As I stated last time, Burke loves his brotherly duos, so what better duo than to sign the Sedin twins this off-season? They are in no way close to signing a deal in Vancouver, but the likelihood of Toronto being able to freely sign them is about as likely as the Leafs trading for Bouwmeester before the deadline â€“ very slim. If Vancouver cannot get these two signed before July 1st, theyâ€™ll certainly be traded to a team that will, and Toronto cannot be the team that acquires the twins, unless itâ€™s via free agency. With a depleted Marlies team already, and an NHL club that isnâ€™t capable of finding its way into the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the Leafs are not in a position to be buyers, but they certainly are able to swing a few players around the league such as:
Big Nik has been making the rounds in the gossip chamber, but what is surprising is how many teams believe he would look great on their top two lines. Heâ€™s a big bodied player who likes to go to the net and isnâ€™t afraid to dig in the corners, and why should he? A 6â€™6â€ frame that has some great hands is hard to come by. Now that heâ€™s shaken off his injury woes, Nik is turning into a legitimate top line player. He understands his role and he plays it well. No one thinks otherwise as he nets a few goals in a game. What is interesting about Nik is his loyalty to Toronto (include Ponikarovsky in this as well). Both these two set out and got their Canadian citizenships and have repeatedly told reporters that they simply love Canada, and more importantly, the Leafs. Nik loves Toronto so much that even if traded, heâ€™s expected to do so only a loan basis and will report to Toronto next season. Itâ€™s a different story for Ponikarovsky who has another year left on his contract. If the team that acquires Nik wants to keep him around, they better bring Poni with him or they will surely have him until July 1st where he will walk without a second guess. That being said, would you rather deal for 28 year old Nik Antropov for your playoff run, or the Mark Recchis or Doug Weights? That is the reason why Nik is so popular amongst shopping teams. Heâ€™s young, and will likely cost the same for his rights for the run. Teams such as Boston and Calgary have great interest in him, but the sneaky team that is on the backburner for a deal right now is the Florida Panthers. It seems theyâ€™ve grown to enjoy making trades with Toronto. Last season they acquired Belak and Kilger, and in the offseason they took McCabe off their hands and a 4th (which we all know was compensation for Kilger calling it quits). Florida is quite comfortable making trades with Toronto, but donâ€™t expect Bouwmeester heading to Leaf land anytime soon. Nathan Horton is on the radar for the Leafs.
(Sounds like the name to a chick flick) Pavel Kubina has told the Toronto Sun what many have been wanting to hear: “If Brian (Burke) and the team did not want me here, why would I stick around?” Kubina has opened the door to listening to trade offers and is no longer ruling out a movement. This gives huge leverage to the Leafs going into the deadline. With interest still lingering for Kaberle, despite his current injury, teams have their eyes set out for that one defenseman to put them into contention, and the two Slovakians certainly can provide that offensive burst necessary. The Leafs can now entertain offers for both players, and provided it is a good team moving forward, Kaberle and Kubina will be interested to see who is after them since the summertime will have no door to open as both lose their NTCs from draft day until August 15th. This is a chance for them to decide where they want to go, while Burke holds the rights to hold onto them if the right offer doesnâ€™t come around. Letâ€™s face it, at 4.25 and 5 million for another season on these two, thereâ€™s no rush to push them off the roster, but it does open the door to more 1st round picks in the upcoming draft, despite them becoming later selections. It is, after all, a deep draft.
Toronto is in a great situation. Consider it a fire sale, and call in sick on deadline day. This will either be the most explosive deadline the Leafs will ever see, or nothing will happen at all. The way itâ€™s going right now, Iâ€™d put my money on the former.
Micheal A. Aldred