Leaf rumors: Vultures reported at the ACC, fire sale coming
Alfredson would like Sundin in Ottawa
It’s Groundhog Day, again, and the trade deadline is 25 days away.
And since the Maple Leafs hired Cliff “let’s make a deal” Fletcher as their new interim GM, you can bet your grand-daddy’s gold watch that significant roster moves are going to be made.
As such, we can expect an assortment of trade rumors up until February 26th. Here are the latest ones.
As widely reported by the media, there were 18 scouts from 16 NHL teams at the ACC to watch the Leafs play the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. That’s 55.2% of opposing teams scouting the Leafs. A headline in the Toronto Star read, “Vultures lining up for Leafs fire sale”.
Why were so many scouts at the ACC? Bob McKenzie suspects that they are probably checking out Jason Blake, Nik Antropov, and Tomas Kaberle.
Of these players, Kaberle is the only player with a no trade clause, so moving him may prove to be more difficult than the others.
Paul Hunter of the Star noted that the scouts were likely impressed by the line of Matt Stajan between Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake. Blake and Stajan each scored, and Blake has been skating well most of the year, despite not scoring for prolonged periods.
Hunter also states that the scouts were likely impressed by the usual superb work from Sundin, who will be coveted the most of any Leaf player.
The Toronto Star suggests Detroit and San Jose might be interested in LW Nik Antropov.
Moreover, Hal Gill and Chad Kiler might be the kind of depth players that would also interest a contender.
David Pagnotta of MSNBC believes that Jason Blake, Nik Antropov, Darcy Tucker (no-trade clause) and Matt Stajan, defensemen Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina, and goalie Andrew Raycroft are all being shopped around by Fletcher.
Pagnotta notes that Blake and Tucker have not produced this season, while Kubina’s talents aren’t being used to their potential with Kaberle and McCabe ahead of him on the depth chart.
And to Leaf fans who are hoping to get a superstar like, say, Marion Gaborik for a package containing Kubina, Blake and Robbie Earl, consider that Mark Spector of the National Post believes that opponents are wondering how they can somehow get Anton Stralman from the Leafs.
Meanwhile Derek Harmsworth suspects that Fletcher may be moving one of Toronto’s many blueliners.
Indeed, once Bryan McCabe comes back, the Leafs will have Kaberle, Kubina, McCabe, Stralman, Gill, White, Wozniewski, and Colaiacovo on the back end.
Of course the Leafs could demote someone to the AHL to make space. But Harmsworth believes that someone may be willing to make a trade for Kubina or Kaberle.
Although he prefers the Leafs retain Kaberle, he wonders what the Leafs might get for him on the open market if he agrees to waive his no trade clause.
Harmsworth also believes that a few teams who could afford to add Pavel Kubina, despite his hefty price tag. Unfortunately, JFJ also gave Kubina a no trade clause.
On the Sundin watch, a ton of Sundin rumors have been reported on this site over the past month, but htese are the latest ones.
According to the Hockey News and Spector, as of February 1st, Detroit and Vancouver are the clubs with the hottest interest in Mats Sundin, although a slew of potential suitors are likely making inquiries. Fletcher notes it’s still early.
David Pagnotta of MSNBC reports that Detroit, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Anaheim and San Jose have all expressed an interest in Sundin.
Pagnotta says that the likes of Jiri Hudler (Detroit), Antoine Vermette (Ottawa), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Bobby Ryan (Anaheim) and Patrick Marleau (San Jose) have been pinpointed as potential trade bait if Sundin is to be moved.
Meanwhile, before last night’s Carolina game, Sundin met with Fletcher to formally discuss the big Swede’s future in Toronto.
Sundin and Fletcher agreed not to discuss anything from their meeting in public, and made a pact to no longer talk to reporters about whether Sundin will waive his no-trade clause. Sundin did reiterate, however, that he wants to remain with the Leafs.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reports on a fascinating interview he had with Ottawa star Daniel Alfredson. Alfredson was asked whom he would prefer to join the Senators, Sundin or Peter Forsberg.
Alfie was quick in his response: “Sundin obviously, Oh yeah.” Alfredsson believes that Sundin could be a difference maker for a team on the quest for a Cup.
Alfredsson also acknowledged he had told Senators management of his desire to play with Sundin. But it remains to be seen whether Fletcher would agree to trade Sundin to a major rival.
Campbell notes that the Sens have some excellent young players in their lineup and organization that would provide the Leafs with the kind of return they desperately need for Sundin.
We definitely need to keep our eye on this one.
Finally, from the bizarro file, it appears that “Kramer” is not the only person who thinks there’s a conspiracy involving the Leafs. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Leafs might be losing games on purpose to get a better draft pick, and questions why Maurice would put Tlusty on the top line given that he’s a 19-year old rookie and a minus 9. If you can believe it, Dreger devoted an entire article to the conspiracy theory.