Blue Line Help Tough For Leafs To Come By

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While the Leafs’ brass continues to look outside the organization for potential solutions, there are no blue line gems such as Rob Blake dangling out there for the taking.

“It’s a on-going process,” Leafs executive Bill Watters said last night of the team’s efforts to scour the trade and free-agent markets. “But nothing is imminent.”

The Chicago Blackhawks would love to move underachieving defenceman Boris Mironov and his hefty $3.3-million US contract, but don’t expect the Leafs to jump at such an overpriced commodity. The Hawks might be willing to eat some salary in order to deal Mironov, who was a healthy scratch against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. But they would have to swallow a significant chunk before teams became interested.

Jiri Slegr, an unrestricted free agent, has intrigued the Leafs, who have made calls regarding the former Atlanta Thrasher and Detroit Red Wing. But his price tag could be a lofty one, and Quinn and Co. appear intent on seeing if youngsters such as Carlo Colaiacovo can stand the heat before making a move.

The Leafs also have inquired about Kyle McLaren, the unsigned, restricted free agent who has demanded a trade out of Boston. The hulking defenceman would solve some of the Leafs problems in their own end, but even Toronto officials admit the Bruins are unlikely to trade him to a division rival.

For the time being, Quinn has plenty of decisions to make regarding those defenceman already within the organization.

For starters, will Colaiacovo, 19, suit up for his second NHL game tonight? Judging by his solid performance in his debut, a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Wednesday, he might.

Another youngster, Ric Jackman, continues to improve. Jackman, who is on a conditioning stint in St. John’s, scored a goal in each of his first two games as a Baby Leaf and is said to be getting better with each outing.

Jyrki Lumme, Aki Berg and Karel Pilar have struggled early in the season, with Pilar being a healthy scratch against the Panthers.

“I haven’t played very well thus far, so it wasn’t a surprise,” Pilar said. “But I know I can play in this league.”

W.C.


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