The talk around Toronto and Boston today is that the Leafs and Bruins have been discussing a Tomas Kaberle deal. The rumour is the Bruins have offered the Leafs a first round pick, a third round pick and prospect Joe Colborne, the Bruins first round pick from last season. TSN.ca is reporting that Brian Burke has emphatically denied this rumour and says it is completely fabricated and that he has not talked with the Bruins about a Kaberle deal.
So, which is it? Well, as is oftent he case, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. It would surprise me if Boston didn’t at least inquire as to what it would cost to acquire Kaberle so I have a difficult time believing completely Burke in that Kaberle has never been discussed. But, if the Bruins were only willing to give up draft picks and prospects to acquire Kaberle, I can see where the discussion may not have gotten all that serious. Burke has made it pretty clear that his asking price is going to be steep and will be a player, a prospect, and a first round draft pick, much like the deal he made for Pronger when he was in Anaheim when he dealt Lupul, Smid and a first round pick (and actually a second first round pick as well because the Ducks won the Stanley Cup). Now, if someone like Milan Lucic or Blake Wheeler or Mark Stuart were also included in the rumoured deal it would make more sense.
The Bill Guerin situation is an interesting one. As you are probably aware by now, Bill Guerin was taken out of the Islanders lineup on Saturday night during the pre-game warm up. Everyone believed that mean that Bill Guerin had been traded, or would be traded, at any time. But it is now Monday and Bill Guerin is still an Islander. So where was he going to be traded and why has it seemingly been delayed? The where has been rumoured to be a contending eastern conference team and many believe Montreal or Washington are the most likely destination. But why has it been delayed? There has been some speculation that the other team has backed out, but if that were the case I think we probably would have heard something to that effect from the Islanders side. So I don’t put a lot of stock in that explanation. Andy Strickland, a Blues blogger on a hockey rumour website that I won’t link to because the main blogger is a false rumour monger, believed the other team might be the Philadelphia and the reason the trade hasn’t gone down yes is because that have to free up salary cap room. To me, this makes perfect sense as to why the trade is being delayed, far more than the other team just backed out. Whether the team is the Flyers or not, I believe the other team having to free up cap space is a likely reason for the delay in this trade going through.
Derek Morris is also in limbo having being scratched from the Phoenix lineup on Saturday, though it doesn’t appear that he was scratched because a deal was imminent, but rather the Coyotes may be just protecting their asset and didn’t want to risk Morris getting injured. But rumours are several western conference teams may be interested in Morris including Calgary, who Morris played for early in his career.
Getting back to the Leafs, they may be the most active sellers at the deadline because that have a large number of affordable players that teams can get under this years cap, and also who have affordable contracts for next season so if the trade doesn’t translate into playoff success this year they aren’t left with nothing when the player leaves as a free agent in the summer. Alexei Ponikarovsky is a 20g, 45 point player who won’t hurt you defensively and has a $2.1 million cap hit for next season. Matt Stajan would be a great third line center for a contender who will contribute offensively and is set to make just $1.75 million next year. Jamal Mayers hasn’t had a good season but with a $1.3 million contract for next year and would add some toughness to a contending team. Mike Van Ryn is a bit of a risk because of his injuries, but if he is healthy is is a great #3 defenseman and has just a $2.9 million salary cap hit next season. None of this above players are going to cost you a lot in assets to trade for, nor will they cost a lot to the salary cap, and none of them will walk on July first. Because of this, the Leafs might have some of the most sought after free agents, and that isn’t without discussing unrestricted free agents Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore.
The other interesting team is he Anaheim Ducks who have basically all of their third and fourth lines set to become UFAs as are several of their defensemen. If the Ducks decide to just give up on the season, they could be an extremely active team at the deadline, but they have won 3 of their last 4 games to halt their slide and they currently sit in 8th spot in the western conference. It’s anyones guess what they will do.