Major Leafs Update – Burke to make a trade today?

Maple Leafs on the hunt for blueline help

Maple Leafs – What Comes Next?

More Leafs moves to come

Maple Leafs on the hunt for blueline help

The Maple Leafs, still wheeling and dealing a week ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline, are trying to trade for a defenceman in time for Tuesday’s game against the visiting New York Islanders.

They’ll also know in the next few days whether they are likely to keep Clarke MacArthur, the team’s leading scorer, or entertain trade offers for him in advance of the Feb. 28 deadline.

GM Brian Burke, after gamely participating in a question-and-answer session with fans during Family Day at the MasterCard Centre, said he’s been working the phones and firing off emails in an effort to land a blueliner.

“We’ve got couple of things going. I don’t know if anything is going to come of it or not,” sad Burke. “We’re trying to put a player in the lineup that can help us as soon as possible.”

Burke has already said that he is looking to move the third-round pick the Leafs acquired from Philadelphia as part of the package for Kris Versteeg.

While Burke was already shaking the bushes looking for blueline help, another defenceman got hurt at Monday’s practice. A hobbling Brett Lebda had to be helped off the ice after he took a Dion Phaneuf slap shot off the inside of his left leg. He has a bruise and will be evaluated again Tuesday. It’s not thought to be too serious.

Over the last two weeks, the Leafs have traded away defencemen Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle without receiving an NHL-ready defender back. Keith Aulie stepped up from the minors to admirably fill Beauchemin’s roster spot, but it was Lebda — who has struggled all season, frequently being a healthy scratch — that subbed in for Kaberle.–maple-leafs-on-the-hunt-for-blueline-help

Maple Leafs – What Comes Next?

Toronto has stockpiled a host of draft picks, but one in particular has been singled out as potential trade bait. The Leafs landed a third-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the deal that sent Kris Versteeg to the Philadelphia Flyers last week, and Burke had put it up for sale moments after it had been acquired.

Defenceman Francois Beauchemin was the first player lanced from the roster in Burke’s mid-season operation, shipped to Anaheim on Feb. 9, which prompted a call-up and a re-organization of ice time. Tomas Kaberle was traded to the Boston Bruins on Friday.

Burke said he wanted to add a player by the end of the day Tuesday, but declined to hint at which players or teams held the most interest.

“It’s classified,” he said. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

He clarified, straight-faced, a moment later.

“I’m not trying to be a smartass — it’s tampering,” he said. “We’ve got a couple things going.”

One of the other things on his schedule this week is a meeting with the representatives for winger Clarke MacArthur. The 25-year-old signed a one-year deal worth US$1.1 million with the Leafs last summer — after his old team, the Atlanta Thrashers, walked away from an arbitration hearing–and he is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.

More Leafs moves to come

The major surgery, as Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke put it, has been done.

But Burke hasn’t sewn up the patient quite yet.

With the National Hockey League trade deadline looming on Monday, Burke has a couple of things to strike off his to-do list. He wants to trade for a defenceman, preferably one who has an offensive bent, and he wants to sign winger Clarke MacArthur, the Leafs’ leading scorer, to a contract extension.

Burke told reporters, after addressing approximately 300 fans during a question-and-answer period at the MasterCardCentre, that his wish was to add a defenceman as soon as possible, and perhaps in time for a home game Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.

As of late Monday night, no trade appeared to be imminent.

“We have a couple of things going, and I don’t know if anything is going to come of it or not,” said Burke, who was swarmed by fans and gladly signed autographs.

“We’re trying to put a player in the lineup to help us soon as possible. Our priority is to add a defenceman.”

Some defencemen who are thought to be available are Dennis Wideman of the Florida Panthers, John-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche and Zach Bogosian of the Atlanta Thrashers, and Burke has at least a third-round pick, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers, in play. With the way some players involved in deals have caught observers off-guard — see James Neal, Erik Johnson and Chris Stewart — Burke could have something entirely different up his monogrammed sleeve.

His desire to re-sign MacArthur is no secret. Don Meehan, the agent for MacArthur, said on Monday night that he will meet with Burke on Tuesday or Wednesday.

MacArthur has a career-best 45 points in 59 games and is slated to be a restricted free agent after making $1.1-million US this season.