The anticipation Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke will soon make a trade has reached a fever pitch amongst Leafs followers.
A rumor that defenseman Luke Schenn would be a healthy scratch prior to Tuesday’s Maple Leafs-Senators game fuelled speculation Schenn and center Nazem Kadri (who was scratched for that game) were on the trade block – Schenn ended up playing that night.
An example of how extreme the speculation got comes from a message board-generated rumor claiming Schenn and Kadri were about to be part of a package deal to Anaheim for center Ryan Getzlaf, which was taken as gospel amongst “Leafs Nation” and quickly went viral.
Getzlaf is among several notable Ducks stars believed to be in play after Anaheim GM Bob Murray hinted he might shake up his core if his club failed to improve over the second half of the season.
Since Murray made those remarks, the Ducks have gone 6-0-1, proving his words were meant to motivate Getzlaf and his teammates, rather than send a message around the league they’re available.
Still, Burke’s association with the Ducks as their former GM continues to link Getzlaf, along with right winger Bobby Ryan, to the Maple Leafs in the rumor mill.
Michael Traikos of the National Post listed Getzlaf and Ryan among potential trade targets for Burke, as well as Philadelphia left winger James van Riemsdyk (who last week was rumored to be on the verge of heading to Toronto for Schenn), Colorado center Paul Stastny, Columbus centers Derick Brassard and Jeff Carter, and Tampa Bay left winger Ryan Malone.
Damien Cox of The Toronto Star also suggested Malone as a viable target, despite the winger’s $4.5 million per season cap hit. Cox pointed out expensive players such as center Mike Cammalleri and defenseman Tomas Kaberle have already moved this season.
Most of those proposed “targets” would address Burke’s need for a big, physical scoring forward with playoff experience (except for Brassard, who is reportedly no longer on the trade block), but Malone has a no-movement clause, while van Riemsdyk and Carter are on injured reserve.
There’s also the matter of what the Leafs could offer the Lightning for Malone. Tampa Bay is in need of goaltending and blueline depth, but the Leafs lack quality netminders so names such as Schenn and Cody Franson have popped up here. Of course, any speculation hinges on Malone accepting a potential move to Toronto.
It remains to be seen what move(s) Burke makes, but given his record of trading well before the deadline, it won’t be long before we learn his intentions.
STAGNANT SABRES DENY TRADES ARE IMMINENT
The floundering Buffalo Sabres (winners of only nine games since their fateful clash with the Boston Bruins Nov. 12) continue to figure prominently in trade rumors
Despite GM Darcy Regier’s claim last week a major roster shakeup wasn’t in the works, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Regier was looking to make changes to his top two lines.
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, meanwhile, denied an Internet-generated rumor claiming he requested a trade. He texted TSN on Wednesday to say he’s never requested a trade and never would, pleading for no one ask him that question again.
Roy, Stafford and Boyes would have value as the trade deadline nears, but it’s unlikely rival teams would be willing to part with comparable players to get them, preferring instead to offer up draft picks and/or prospects. That’s the usual going rate for players from teams considered as trade deadline “sellers.”
Regier, coach Lindy Ruff and owner Terry Pegula continue to downplay trade talk, but if the Sabres keep sinking in the standings, it could force them into salary-dumping deals and, perhaps, an off-season overhaul.
COULD THE OILERS TRADE RYAN SMYTH AGAIN?
Speculation continues to grow the Edmonton Oilers will once again shop veteran left winger Ryan Smyth near the trade deadline.
Dan Tencer of 630 CHED recently interviewed NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire, who claimed an Eastern Conference playoff team had “significant interest” in Smyth.
Tencer took to Twitter to suggest Oilers GM Steve Tambellini could trade Smyth if there were teams willing to make a strong pitch and then re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
But Smyth has a no-movement clause and would like to finish his career as an Oiler. Before he agrees to a move, Smyth may want assurances he could rejoin the team in July.
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.