NHL Rumors and News – July 24, 2009

Leafs’ Kaberle no longer on trade hot seat

Bruins nix team-bonding trip

Enigmatic Afinogenov worth a shot?

Taylor Pyatt in Canucks’ rear-view mirror

Leafs’ Kaberle no longer on trade hot seat


The Maple Leafs are still attempting to move one of their excess defencemen but it looks less and less like Tomas Kaberle will be the one shipped out of town.

In one of his strongest statements to date about the star blueliner’s future in Toronto, general manager Brian Burke yesterday said he’d “be shocked if (Kaberle) is not a Leaf on opening night.”

“I look at our defence now and I’d put it up against just about anybody’s. I think (Kaberle) is going to be a big part of that,” continued Burke, who bolstered Toronto’s back line with the off-season acquisitions of Mike Komisarek, François Beauchemin and Garnet Exelby.

“I look forward to seeing what Tomas can do with a little more size and toughness around him, where he’s not going to be picking his teeth out of the glass all night.”

Kaberle, 31, has two years remaining on a contract that will pay him $4.25 million (all figures U.S.) each season, a relatively modest stipend that, combined with his impressive skill set, should make him very attractive to a contending team.

A deal for Kaberle that would have seen Phil Kessel arrive in Toronto from Boston was almost consummated at the trade deadline due to a communication breakdown.

There is a window in Kaberle’s contract that allows Toronto to trade him before Aug. 15, but Burke said there is no deal in the works.

“I don’t sense (a trade) is going to happen,” said Burke.


Bruins nix team-bonding trip

This fall, for the first time since Claude Julien has assumed control of the Boston bench, the Bruins will not partake in their team-bonding trip to Stowe, Vt., during training camp. The early start and compressed schedule will not give them enough time for the trip.


Enigmatic Afinogenov worth a shot?

Predators general manager David Poile says he’s happy with his current roster, but hasn’t closed his eyes to the few remaining forwards on the unrestricted free-agent market either.

One of the free agents Poile has inquired after is former Buffalo forward Maxim Afinogenov, who Poile calls “an interesting player.’’

Interesting certainly in that the 29 year-old Afinogenov has plenty of speed, skill and scoring ability. But if Afinogenov was a stock, he’d probably be selling for a penny these days.

Over the past four seasons, Afinogenov has seen his points total drop from 73 to 61 to 28 to 20. Granted, he missed significant stretches of the last couple of seasons with groin/hip injuries, but he also suffered a handful of healthy scratches. Afinogenov’s attitude buried him so deeply in the doghouse of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff that the team considered building an addition out back for him.

As far back as November of 2008, Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason suggested that the Sabres should already have traded Afinogenov, reasoning that his return value had fallen to “three autographed practice sweaters and a case of beer.’’

Clearly, a change of scenery could do nothing but boost Afinogenov. But whether a mercurial Russian sniper would be a good fit for the Predators is a matter of debate.


Taylor Pyatt in Canucks’ rear-view mirror

Jim Jamieson, The Province

Taylor Pyatt has turned the page on his time with the Vancouver Canucks and Jannik Hansen may be skating himself onto thin ice with the NHL club.

Pyatt told TBnewswatch.com in his hometown of Thunder Bay that he doesn’t expect to come back to Vancouver for a fourth season and said he has spoken with four or five NHL teams about the coming season.

“I don’t think I’ll be back there (Vancouver) this year,” Pyatt told TBnewswatch.com.

“I really enjoyed my time there. The organization treated me great and my teammates were great to me, but I guess it’s time for me to move on,” he said.

Pyatt’s world was ripped apart by the tragic death of his fiancée Carly Bragnalo in a car crash in Jamaica on April 2.

He was absent from the team for about a month and returned to play in the final four games of the Chicago series, won in six games by the Blackhawks. It was revealed Pyatt required arthroscopic knee surgery following the series.

Pyatt clearly feels he’s ready to resume his career.