Media reports out of Toronto late last week suggested the Bryan McCabe saga might be drawing to a close.
The reports claimed McCabe was not only willing to accept a trade to the Florida Panthers, but the deal could be done by early September.
Apparently the holdup is a $2 million signing bonus owed to McCabe by the Maple Leafs on Sept. 1. If he were dealt to the Panthers before then, Florida would be on the hook for it.
The Panthers would supposedly send defenseman Mike Van Ryn to the Leafs as part of the deal. Blueliner Jay Bouwmeester, oft-mentioned in the rumor mill this summer, is not expected to be included.
However, Bouwmeester is considered to be the motivation behind this apparent move by the Panthers. He’s only on a one-year contract with the team and expected to depart via unrestricted free agency next summer, leading to anticipation he could be dealt by no later than the February trade deadline.
Panthers GM Jacques Martin refused to comment on the rumors, while Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher denied the McCabe reports, saying nothing was going on and the player was still considering his options.
Van Ryn, meanwhile told the Miami Herald he’d heard nothing from Panthers’ management about being traded to Toronto.
Such a move would make sense for Martin if he feels he can’t retain Bouwmeester. Perhaps another way of looking at this is the addition of a veteran puckmoving blueliner like McCabe might be considered enticement for young Bouwmeester to stay put.
It does seem puzzling, however, that McCabe would consider a deal to the Panthers, a team that has a worse record of futility than the Maple Leafs and considerably more turmoil. One would expect he’d prefer being dealt to either a Stanley Cup favorite or perennial playoff contender.
McCabe’s agent also denied the reports, but the player’s continued silence will only serve to keep this rumor alive for some time.
• Lost in the hubbub over McCabe was the fact Pavel Kubina was not traded.
The Leafs had until August 15th to trade him to any NHL club without his consent. Now that it’s passed, his no-trade clause is back in effect for the upcoming season.
Given the lack of speculation about Kubina over the past two months, it appears Leafs management had little intention of shopping him.
• Former New York Rangers winger Brendan Shanahan remains among the few notables still available in this summer’s UFA market.
The Shanahan camp last month denied a rumor suggesting he was talking contract with the New Jersey Devils. He has expressed a wish to play another NHL season, preferably with the Rangers, but might consider offers from other clubs if the Blueshirts fail to sign him.
John Davidson, president of the St. Louis Blues, last week admitted having interest in bringing the former Blue back to St. Louis.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the club hasn’t made Shanahan a contract offer. Davidson said he hopes Shanahan would consider the Blues as “a viable option,” but Shanahan told the New York Daily News last Thursday his priority is the Rangers.
It remains to be seen what Shanahan will decide, but as training camp approaches, the longer he remains unsigned the greater the possibility he’ll end up playing for a club other than the Rangers, which could make the Blues an even more viable option.
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.