New Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke appeared to close the door Saturday on the prospect of Mats Sundin returning to Toronto, telling reporters he believed the Leafs didn’t fit the profile of the type of team Sundin preferred to sign with.
A recent report in the Globe and Mail, however, suggests Burke isn’t ruling out the possibility. The story says Burke is hoping to meet with the former Leafs captain this week to gauge Sundin’s interest and asking price and then decide if it makes sense to even make an offer.
Speaking of the Leafs, the trade watch has begun for defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina and forwards Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
It’s been suggested the inconsistent Ponikarovsky will be the first to be dealt, while Kaberle and Kubina might be willing to waive their respective “no-trade” clauses this season after refusing to do so for Burke’s predecessor last season.
Antropov’s future could be determined by his salary demands since he’s an unrestricted free agent in July.
• A recent report in the Ottawa Sun claimed Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland would like to re-sign forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa.
The trio is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer and Zetterberg could cost at least $7.5 million per season and Franzen as much as $5 million to retain. Hossa probably won’t accept less than the $7.45 million he’s currently earning.
Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, Chris Chelios and Ty Conklin are also unrestricted free agents, while forward Jiri Hudler is a restricted free agent.
Factor in the possibility the salary cap might not significantly increase above this season’s $56.7 million ceiling, plus the fact the Wings currently have 14 players under contract for next season at more than $38 million and the likelihood of getting all three to stay appears remote.
• As the Florida Panthers continue to struggle, speculation is growing GM Jacques Martin will shop defenseman Jay Bouwmeester sooner rather than later.
Don’t bet on that happening. Bouwmeester could be traded this season, but Martin won’t move him as long as he believes there’s still a chance he can re-sign the blueliner.
Should Bouwmeester indicate he’ll test the free agent market this summer, Martin will likely hang onto him for as long as possible to drive up his trade value as the deadline approaches in March.
• It’s been suggested the Boston Bruins will likely re-sign goaltender Tim Thomas to a contract before this season ends rather than risk losing him to unrestricted free agency.
Given his outstanding performance thus far, that certainly appears to be a safe bet. Some pundits suggest Thomas, who presently earns $1.1 million, could be retained for $3 million per season.
Thomas is currently among the NHL leaders in goals-against average, save percentage, shutouts and wins. The longer his stats rank among the elite goalies the greater the possibility it’ll cost the Bruins more than $3 million per season to re-sign him.
• Rumors persist the Washington Capitals are shopping Michael Nylander, but that apparently comes as news to the veteran center.
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Nylander claimed Capitals GM George McPhee hadn’t approached him about waiving his “no-movement” clause.
Nylander didn’t dismiss the possibility, but given the Capitals’ roster has been bitten hard by the injury bug lately he’s probably not going to be moved in the immediate future.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.