The Toronto Maple Leafs currently lack enough salary cap space to make any major moves in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, particularly when they’re expected to re-sign restricted free agents Jonas Gustavsson and Nikolai Kulemin.
It’s possible, however, management will make several off-season moves to free up considerable salary. Friday, the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons suggested several possibilities, including trading or demoting defenseman Jeff Finger, dealing away blueliner Tomas Kaberle and center Mikhail Grabovski and possibly moving either Mike Komisarek or Francois Beauchemin.
Simmons claimed those moves would give the Leafs between $11 million and $13 million to put toward depth via free agency.
It is unlikely GM Brian Burke would trade Komisarek or Beauchemin, who he brought in as free agents, but the other moves could happen.
Grabovski did little this season to remain a Leaf, while freeing up Finger’s $3.5 million salary would go toward addressing more significant needs.
But the asking price for Kaberle isn’t cheap. Various sources claim the Leafs want a top-six forward (preferably a power forward for Phil Kessel’s line) and a first round pick.
That seems rather high for Kaberle. The Leafs probably won’t get that much, but as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out, it doesn’t hurt to set the bar high and see what transpires.
• Possessing either the first or second overall pick in this year’s draft won’t help the Edmonton Oilers resolve their salary cap issues, Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox recently wrote.
The Oilers presently have more than 50 percent of next season’s payroll tied up in six players (Ales Hemsky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sheldon Souray, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Tom Gilbert), leading Cox to wonder if a team like the New York Rangers or Minnesota Wild might be willing to take a couple of those contracts off the Oilers’ hands to land their first round pick.
He acknowledged such a move would be hugely unpopular amongst an Oilers fan base hoping their club lands either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin.
It would take considerably more than just offering to pick up two or three of those bad contracts for a rival to convince Oilers management to part with their first round pick.
Souray, meanwhile, told Sportsnet he requested a trade, feeling management had given up on him based on GM Steve Tambellini’s apparent disinterest in the blueliner’s painful recovery from a season-ending hand injury.
Souray’s no-movement clause expires July 1, but the Oilers will be in tough to find a club interested in an aging, overpaid, one-dimensional blueliner with a lengthy injury history.
• The Anaheim Ducks head into the off-season with questions about the futures of several veterans still to be answered.
Defenseman Scott Niedermayer and forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are eligible for unrestricted free agency and all but Koivu will be considering retirement this summer.
Their decisions will have an impact on other moves the Ducks make in the off-season. It’s believed the club is interested in re-signing Koivu is willing to bring back Niedermayer and Selanne, depending on cap space.
Management will certainly want a decision from the latter two well before June’s draft.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.