NHL trade deadline: Maple Leafs among teams looking to trade

Tick, tock. The NHL trade deadline is a week away.

It’s one of the two times of year, as Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is fond of saying, when his fellow general managers make their biggest mistakes. (July 1, a.k.a. Free Agent Madness, is the other.)

Why does Burke say that? Because only one team wins the Stanley Cup. But ever year about 20 of them think that if they make one or two moves — add some grit, add a goalie, some size, a puck-moving D-man — they’ll be in good shape.

The temptation to mortgage the future — or to save your job — for a shot at the Stanley Cup is huge. So throw in a prospect, throw in a draft pick. Go ahead, overpay.

Some will make trades for the playoffs. Some will make trades for the future. Some will make trades they regret.


RICK NASH: Previously believed to be untouchable, Nash bolted to the top of every contender’s wish list as soon as Columbus GM Scott Howson told reporters: “We’re open to all options to improve the team,” suggesting anyone on his team was available. Nash is big, strong, can score, and is still relatively young. A $7.8 million cap hit (until 2018) means Columbus will have to take back some salary. The Jackets need a goalie, a blue-chip prospect, in any package for Nash.

RYAN SUTER: The chatter has died down considerably after Suter said he wouldn’t sign a new deal with Nashville before the trade deadline. But the same issues apply: Can the Predators afford to let him walk as an unrestricted free agent? Can they afford to sign him? Can they make the playoffs without him? The Flyers would be a perfect fit. Preds need scoring up front. Chosen two spots ahead of Phaneuf in 2003, Suter will look for a hefty raise from the $3.5 million he’s earning this year.

JEFF CARTER: Nash’s teammate in Columbus has long been thought of as on the way out. A bad fit from the start, Carter has a long-term deal — 11 years at $5.27 million a year. It’s a reasonable cap hit for a player in the prime of his career and a solid scorer.

LUKE SCHENN: If Suter’s not available, the Leafs defenceman becomes a valuable alternative. Schenn provides a stay-at-home, hard-hitting defending style that teams need in the playoffs. Schenn’s relationship with coach Ron Wilson is sometimes brought into question, and some believe he’d welcome a trade to Philadelphia for a chance to play with his brother. The Leafs need scoring and size and would only move him for that.

SAM GAGNER: An intriguing possibility for any team. The former first-round pick had been shuttled aside by the Oilers organization, frustrated at not getting a chance to play with Taylor Hall. Once he did — only very recently — he’s showed he can be a top centre. The Oilers love Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and may want to trade Gagner while his value is high. Still young, he’d bring the Oilers a considerable return.

RYAN MILLER: A disappointing year for the Sabres, and much of the blame has been heaped on Miller for his less-than-stellar netminding. It may be time for him to part ways with Buffalo, with Jhonas Enroth showing he has the stuff to be a No. 1. Miller would be an intriguing get for any playoff hopeful (Chicago, Toronto, Washington) that currently has goaltending issues.