Trade speculation surrounds Leafs

Unrestricted free agents Toskala, Stajan rumoured to be on block

By TERRY KOSHAN, Toronto Sun

The future of Mike Komisarek and several of his Maple Leafs teammates is about as clear as the bleak January skies.

As Komisarek works to return from a suspected shoulder injury, several Leafs are pondering their future, unsure whether they still be in Toronto hours after the NHL trade deadline passes on March 3.

Komisarek can rest easy knowing it’s nearly a certainty he will not be dealt prior to the deadline. Not so for a group of players heading for unrestricted free agency, including goalie Vesa Toskala and forwards Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

General manager Brian Burke has said he would not be averse to taking on salary in a trade, and if it meant sending a veteran to the minors to clear up room under the salary cap, he would not hesitate. But for Burke to be in a position to add serviceable bodies, the 14th-place Leafs have to start winning, starting Tuesday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings.

“It’s tough to be happy when you are losing games,” said Stempniak, who wants to stay in Toronto. “You try to have a positive mind frame, but I would be lying if I said I came in here every day with a big smile on my face. You try to be positive, but you understand there is a lot of work to be done.”

Jonas Gustavsson likely will get the bulk of the starts in goal, but Toskala, as mild-mannered a person as you’ll find, couldn’t bring himself to say he wants a fresh start. One team that might consider taking him could be the Calgary Flames, who need a backup and are run by Darryl Sutter, who briefly coached Toskala in San Jose.

“I would love to play, a lot,” Toskala said. “But it’s not something I can control.”

To say Komisarek’s first season with the Leafs has been nightmarish would be to sell the description short. When he has not been injured — Tuesday night will mark the 12th game he has missed with an upper-body problem (the Leafs won’t come out and say it’s a shoulder), and he sat out eight in November with a quad injury — Komisarek has registered four assists and a minus-9 rating in 34 games.

11 Responses to Trade speculation surrounds Leafs

  1. reinjosh says:

    Apparently Calgary has interest in Toskala, something i wondered a while ago.
    It wouldn't take much, if anything.
    At most I could see the team get a 5th pick with conditions. At the very most.

  2. honestabe says:

    that's probably true.  Amazing though, considering what the leafs gave up to get him just a year and a half ago.

  3. mojo19 says:

    I could see Calgary having some interest in Toskala. I think you get at best a 5th for him, and I guess you have to take it because we'd just end up letting him walk in July anyways.

  4. dumbassdoorman says:

    I think that it sucks he played so poorly after high expectations form his first year…it is hard not to like the guy. however, like you said sometimes you just have to take what you can get and moove forward….lol…that extra for voukun is looking like a good idea now…..oh well.

  5. leafy says:

    Told ya' last week. Toskala to Calgary!!!

    The Flames will have to get a backup goalie or they will miss the playoffs.

  6. mojo19 says:

    If I were Calgary I'd look for a cheaper option first, but if its not there then I'd go for Toskala.

    Biron might be a better option but could cost more to acquire him.

  7. leafy says:

    The Flames goalie situation reminds me of the Leafs in 2004. eg, when Trevor Kidd was in net, the Leafs were toast. 

    I'm not joking when I say this, Toronto's failure to get an adequate backup for Belfour in '04 may have cost the Leafs a Stanley Cup!!!

    Why? Because Belfour's back flared up constantly during the regular season and then again in the playoffs vs Philly.  But Quinn had no choice, he had to keep playing Belfour.  Because of his back woes, Belfour wasn't nearly as good against the Flyers as he was against Ottawa.

    Not to mention the fact that the Leafs missed winning the Division by 1 point, which made them face a tough Senators team in the first round. With a good backup goalie, the Leafs would have won the division and maybe the Conference.

    And we all know that was a stacked Leafs team.  The Flyers ended up losing to Tampa in 7, and Tampa went on to take the cup.  I still believe a healthy Leafs team with a healthy Belfour would have taken Tampa. 

    The root of the problem was no backup goalie.

  8. mojo19 says:

    Losing Owen Nolan for the entire playoffs because of an injury during the final game of the season (a meaningless 6-0 win over Ottawa) hurt a lot too. Nolan was a force for that team.

    But you are totally right. AND! on top of that, ironically it was the Leafs opting not to get a back up goalie from the Flames at that time. Roman Turek was offered up to Toronto for a late draft pick, but according to Ron MacLean the Teachers/Owners would not bring in a $5.5 million backup. The other guy they were trying to acquire was Gerber, then with Anaheim, but I don't know what happened there.

    The Leafs line up with Nolan was so amazing at that time….

    Roberts – Sundin – Mogilny
    Tucker – Ron Francis – Nolan
    Ponikarovsky – Nieuwendyk – Antropov
    Fitzgerald – Reichel – Domi
    IR – Renberg.

    x – Matt Stajan came in for Francis during a gruling Philly series, and Chad Kilger came in with Nolan out, Fitzgerald played up.

    Injuries were one thing the '04 lightning didn't have to deal with.

  9. leafmeister says:

    That was a fun playoff series, the one against Ottawa anyways. One of the finest goaltending performances I have ever seen.

    I heard rumors all year that they were going after Kolzig, which would have been sweet.

    One major problem with that team was the age.

    I remember Kilger played fairly decently in those playoffs too.

  10. cam7777 says:

    Or it could be a trade for two or three cheaper players they have no, or limited use for, ie. Lundmark, McElhinney, Prust, etc… This would help accomadate the mass exodus that could happen leading up to the deadline.

  11. mojo19 says:

    Kilger played with Reichel and Domi and opened the scoring in game 7 vs. Ottawa. Then Nieuwy added 2 more in the 1st period and the Leafs never looked back.

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