Trade rumors and the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone hand-in-hand since last summer and with the trade deadline less than six weeks away, speculation will only increase.
Tomas Kaberle, Mikhail Grabovski, Francois Beauchemin and Kris Versteeg have popped up in the rumor mill at various times over now veteran goalie J-S Giguere has joined them as a swap candidate.
Howard Berger of the National Post reported Giguere acknowledged the possibility his days as a Maple Leaf may be numbered.
Giguere admitted he’d be willing to waive his no-movement clause if GM Brian Burke asked him to do so, though to date Burke has not approached him about it.
Giguere has a proven playoff record (2003 playoff MVP and a Stanley Cup championship in 2007), but his career has been on a decline over the past three years due in part to nagging groin and hip injuries. He’s currently on the injured list for a groin injury and even if he returns by February it could have an adverse effect on his trade value.
His health, combined with his no-movement clause, could see Giguere finish this season as a Maple Leaf. His days with the Leafs are likely over after this season, anyway, as he’s an unrestricted free agent unlikely to be re-signed.
Michael Traikos of the National Post, meanwhile, reminded Leafs fans pining for Burke to ship out under-performing, overpaid blueliners Mike Komisarek and Dion Phaneuf that rival clubs have more interest in players such as Versteeg, Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur, who the Leafs cannot afford to lose.
It remains to be seen what moves, if any, the Leafs make between now and the trade deadline, but fans hoping for a blockbuster deal that ships out one or two expensive underachievers for a superstar or a high first round pick in the 2011 draft are likely to be disappointed come Feb. 28.
SENATORS TRADE TALKS STALLED
The Senators trade watch continues in Ottawa with little indication a deal will be coming soon.
Chris Phillips (provided he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause), Jarkko Ruutu, Alex Kovalev, Filip Kuba, Brian Lee and possibly Peter Regin and Milan Michalek are thought to be available, but apart from Phillips there doesn’t appear to be much interest in these players.
GM Bryan Murray continued to bemoan the difficulty he is having trying to dump salary in a market where most GMs are seeking dollar-for-dollar swaps.
Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen doubted Murray would be able to swing many salary-dumping trades by the deadline since many of his rivals will be trying to do the same thing. Warren suggested the best thing for the Senators now is to limp toward the end of the season, which could lead to a high first round pick at the draft.
It’s possible Murray will make a move or two by the deadline, but Senators fans shouldn’t expect much back in return.
SHARKS LOOKING FOR BLUELINE HELP
San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is unhappy with his club’s performance to date, citing inconsistent play as the reason for their 21-18-5 record, which at mid-season has them in the bottom of the Pacific Division and 11th overall in the Western Conference.
One of the reasons for their struggles is a lack of experienced depth on the blueline as Wilson was unable to find a suitable replacement for retired defenseman Rob Blake in the off-season. Wilson reminded reporters he hasn’t shied away from pursuing trades in the past, which suggests he remains in the market for a quality defenseman.
Wilson will likely be patient for the next few weeks to see if the Sharks will improve, but if they’re still struggling by February expect him to shop around for help.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.