There’s already some discussion going on in the threads, but let’s get all of that latest news out on the table:
– TSN’s Darren Dreger recently tossed out his list of top 10 candidates to be moved at this year’s trade deadline, with Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky figuring in at the 4th and 5th spots respectively. He suggests that Stajan would perhaps yield “a decent prospect or drafts picks in return” and that Ponikarovsky would likely fetch a similar price. It’s always hard to gauge the trade deadline market as values fluctuate on a yearly basis, but I’ve got Ponikarovsky pegged as an Antropov comparable (2nd round pick) as a big body and 60 point player while Stajan may compare favorably to Moore (2nd round pick starting price) as a depth centreman who can put up some points in the right situation.
– In a separate article, Dreger also mentions that Jamal Mayers is looking for a change of scenery and his agent has been granted permission to gauge other teams’ interest in the checking winger. He hasn’t fit in well here during his tenure with the Maple Leafs, but there was a time when he showed he could be a valuable bottom six forward with a bit of grit and intensity in the right system. This is one particular case where the potential return (if any) would not be the primary concern, as opening up that roster spot and playing time for a player like Stalberg or Hanson could have a more important long-term effect.
– The Toronto Star adds more fuel to the trade deadline fire by noting that Niklas Hagman could be another prime candidate to be moved. Burke has apparently said that Hagman is the one player he has received the most calls about. Despite an up-and-down season littered with hot streaks and long stretches of inconsistent play, Hagman has shown to be an effective goal scorer coming in at a fairly reasonable $3M price tag. He scored 27 with the Stars before signing in Toronto, potted 22 in 65 games in his first year (28 goals pro-rated), and is on pace for a career high 30 goals this season. It’s tough to find a comparable trade from last year’s market, but if Burke can do what Sens GM Brian Murray did last year by pairing Hagman with a younger player (Comrie and Campoli), it could perhaps be his ticket to get back into the late first round of the draft.
– In a bit of a twist on the same story we’ve been hearing over the last few months, the National Post suggests that the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks could pair up as intriguing trade partners nearing the deadline. Keying in on Burke’s earlier comment about potentially being both a buyer and a seller this year, it’s possible that the Leafs could look to take on one or two Chicago’s contracts after trading or dumping some of their own. The article suggests names such as Jack Skille, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell. As sexy as a 1st round pick is amongst fans, I just don’t see the justification in taking on Campbell’s ridiculous long-term contract. Ladd and Skille are intriguing players depending on the price tag, but I don’t know if they’re enough of an upgrade on Hanson/Stalberg to warrant a roster spot moving into next season and beyond (especially since they need new contracts). Versteeg and Byfuglien on the other hand are the two players I would put the most effort into targeting. Kris is a crafty young player with a lot of breakout potential while Dustin provides a great deal of that physicality and front of the net presence this team currently lacks.