Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
Given that he has no desire to trade Jake Gardiner, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, one has to think, is looking at parting with at least a player or two off the club’s roster in the coming days or weeks.
Making trades to improve the Leafs is the way to go. Burke has said it as much himself, knowing a thin free-agent market has few attractive players that could come in and help the Leafs become a playoff contender.
When you manage a team that finished 13th in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12, a full dozen points short of the eighth and final playoff spot, few players on your roster would be deemed untouchable.
But there are a few Leafs who know they aren’t going anywhere. Captain Dion Phaneuf, forwards Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Mikhail Grabovski, defenceman John-Michael Liles, goaltender James Reimer — none of these young men have trouble sleeping at night because they’re worried they might be traded the next day.
For the rest of the Leafs outside of Gardiner, there is no such certainty. Defenceman Luke Schenn likely will be hearing rumours until the time comes that he actually is traded, though Burke would have to eat some fairly significant words that he uttered last September when he signed Schenn to a five-year contract.
“What you see is a classic, hard-nosed Canadian defenceman,” Burke said at the time. “Luke plays the game we all dream about finding players to play that way. He plays hard, is hard to play against, he finishes his checks.”
On the surface, it appears that Burke has on his hands several unmovable contracts. Forwards Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong
SIEGEL: BURKE INTENDS TO USE FIFTH PICK; TRADE NOT IMMINENT
Penguins’ Shero not listening to Staal offers
Backstrom going nowhere
Wings will be ‘aggressive’ in pursuit of Justin Schultz
Ducks expect Parros to test free agency
SIEGEL: BURKE INTENDS TO USE FIFTH PICK; TRADE NOT IMMINENT
The Blues still need to address the defense position before next season which they’ll do either through a trade or in free agency. Finding a player to play with Alex Pietrangelo should be a priority. Sure he could play with Kevin Shattenkirk but that’s only if there are no other options. I don’t doubt Pietrangelo can play the left side but there’s no sense in taking him away from his natural side unless it’s really necessary.
There’s limited players available in free agency that register on the excitement meter. I’m not sure the Blues can afford a player like Matt Carle who will fetch north of $4 million come July 1st. Others such as 36 year old Bryce Salvador missed a full season with an inner ear issue two seasons ago. Salvador could still return to New Jersey but will be hoping for a three year deal similar to the contract Jackman received. He may have to settle for two.
The Blues have told Ian Cole he’s guaranteed a top seven spot but it’s up to him to nail down a top six position. He’ll need to improve his skill level to play with Pietrangelo. Blues assistant coaches worked several days towards the end of last season on improving his skill while the former Notre Dame standout was out of the lineup.
Just look at the defense of the last two Stanley cup winners and it gives you a good idea of how much the Blues probably need to improve to truly contend.
Look for both Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol to both re-sign one year deals with the Blues sometime this week or next.
Another day, another goalie locked up.
While Josh Harding may not be a well-known puckstopper, or one of particular note, he’s likely to come close to splitting the workload in Minnesota this season with Nicklas Backstrom, and so the Wild have locked him up with a three-year deal.
Harding, along with Anders Lindback, Cory Schneider and Jonathan Bernier, was viewed as a young backup netminder who might be able to become a starter elsewhere. Now Harding is signed, Lindback has been traded to Tampa, Bernier may stay in L.A. for the time being until Jonathan Quick is locked up long term and Schneider, most believe, will be the unchallenged as the No. 1 goalie of the Vancouver Canucks when the next NHL season begins.
If there were a plethora of teams anxious to upgrade in goal, that would create a nice situation for Canucks GM Mike Gillis in his efforts to move veteran goaler Roberto Luongo and his ridiculous contract, which still has 10 years left to run.
Except there aren’t many teams looking to upgrade. Indeed, unless Ondrej Pavelec flees to the KHL and leaves the Winnipeg Jets in the lurch, only two teams seem to be seriously prowling for a starter in the crease, the Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Even then, the money-losing Blue Jackets aren’t likely to be interested in Luongo and his massive contract, while Luongo, with a no-movement clause he can still exercise, isn’t likely to be too excited about Columbus.
Which leaves the Leafs as the only destination. Chicago? Most GMs don’t think the Hawks are looking, and why would the Canucks move Luongo to a conference rival? Florida? They have Jose Theodore and hot prospect Jacob Markstrom, and dicey ownership in south Florida makes it unlikely the Panthers would want to absorb that contract with $46.8 million still to pay, including $40.3 million cash in the next six years.
The temperature changed a little last week for the Vancouver Canucks when they filed to arbitrate against winger Mason Raymond. The environment may be dramatically altered this week as general manager Mike Gillis tries to trade goalie Roberto Luongo.
Gillis confirmed before travelling for NHL meetings on Tuesday that he is talking to teams about his goalie.
“There are lots of teams interested,” Gillis said. “There’s a limited number of proven No. 1 goaltenders in the world. Roberto is, without a doubt, a proven No. 1 all-star goalie.”
The Canuck manager insisted there is no urgency to make a deal this weekend at the draft in Pittsburgh and Gillis said he remains comfortable with the possibility that both Luongo and Cory Schneider, who became the Canucks’ starter during April’s first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings, will be in Vancouver next season.
Neither goalie, however, would be comfortable with that scenario and it is in no one’s interest to have two No. 1s and nearly $10 million committed to Canuck goalies when one of them will be on the bench each night.