The continuing uncertainty over the absence of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer because of “concussion-like” symptoms, combined with the shaky performance from backups Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens, may have finally pushed GM Brian Burke into seeking more experience between the pipes.
On Tuesday evening there were reports the Leafs had been in contact with the agent for unrestricted free agent goalie Marty Turco. Though Burke subsequently claimed he had no interest in signing Turco, it was taken as a sign the Leafs GM was in the market for goaltending depth.
Terry Koshan of The Toronto Sun suggested other possibilities include former Leaf Scott Clemmensen of the Florida Panthers, Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders, and Antero Niittymaki of the San Jose Sharks.
It seems unusual Niittymaki would be on that list, as he’s been on injured reserve since the start of the season for hip surgery and isn’t expected to return to action until mid-December. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, however, cited sources claiming several teams had contacted the Sharks to inquire about Niittymaki’s availability.
LeBrun’s sources didn’t say if the Leafs were among those teams, but the fact a goalie who hasn’t played a single game this season is garnering interest in the trade market indicates just how few options are available.
The Leafs aren’t the only club shopping for a netminder, as LeBrun reported several NHL teams confirmed Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was also calling around.
WHEN WILL FRANSON BE TRADED?
Burke holds a valuable trade asset in defenseman Cody Franson and recently told a Toronto radio station he’d been “deluged with offers” for the blueliner.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported one unnamed team offered up a player and a second round pick, but the Leafs GM said he had no plans to move Franson.
Franson, who joined the Leafs over the summer in a trade from the Nashville Predators, has struggled to earn a regular spot on the Toronto defense, playing in only a handful of games this season.
It’s believed Burke is reluctant to part with Franson, as he’s a strong believer in maintaining blueline depth, but the 24-year-old defenseman isn’t going to improve if he’s seeing more time in the press box than on the ice.
If the Leafs’ current slump drags into December and sends them tumbling down the standings, Burke will have to reconsider his position with Franson if he can get a solid return – perhaps a good, experienced goaltender – to help his team.
For those suggesting there’s still a chance the Phoenix Coyotes trade holdout center Kyle Turris by the Dec. 1 deadline to have him under contract, GM Don Maloney once again shot down that notion.
According to LeBrun, Maloney told ESPN, “For the 1,500th time, we have no intention of trading (Turris), regardless of the offer, at all whatsoever.”
It’s not unusual for a GM to say one thing and do another, but Maloney’s comments leave little doubt about his intentions for Turris. The young center will either have to re-sign with the Coyotes or forget about playing this season.
WINDS OF CHANGE
The Carolina Hurricanes are free falling in the Eastern Conference standings, having won only three of their past 10 games, dropping to 14th place.
Their struggles led Dreger to take to Twitter on Thursday to muse about the possibility of either a coaching change or a trade, suggesting “all the signs are there” for one or the other.
Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer subsequently reported he’s spoken with Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, who said no such moves were in the offing.
Rutherford told Alexander, “There’s not anyone out there right now who’s available,” but added, “there might be some who come available.”
It appears Rutherford isn’t ruling out a trade. It’s been rumored he will shop a defenseman for a scoring forward, but if there’s nothing available right now to help his team’s sagging fortunes, a coaching change might be Rutherford’s only option.
FILATOV FLYING HOME?
It appears Nikita Filatov’s shot at establishing himself as an NHL winger with the Ottawa Senators this season is drawing to a close.
Filatov, acquired from the Blue Jackets during the NHL draft, was demoted to the Senators farm team in Binghamton on Nov. 7 for the second time this season. He’s since asked Ottawa to let him return to the Kontinental League, where his intent is to play for Central Red Army.
A Russian newspaper claimed Filatov had a deal in place with Central Red Army, but according to Senators GM Bryan Murray, he expects Filatov to honor his contract with Ottawa and told the winger he’ll have to wait until the end of November for further discussion on the matter.
It’s possible Murray is stalling to see if he can find any takers for Filatov, but don’t be surprised if Filatov ends up in the KHL, this time for good.
BOGUS BRUINS RUMOR
Stupid trade rumor of the year: Columbus sends Rick Nash to Boston for Bruins backup Tuukka Rask.
To quote ESPN Bruins reporter James Murphy, those rumors “are bogus and comical.”
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.