Toronto Maple Leafs fans hoping for GM Brian Burke to make a trade will have to wait until after Dec. 27, as Burke’s self-imposed holiday trade freeze began on Dec. 9, a full 10 days before the start of the NHL’s Dec. 19-27 mandatory freeze period.
Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch recently said Burke may seek help at center – given Tim Connolly has been in and out of the lineup with injuries – and suggested Columbus Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard as an option.
Garrioch reported sources saying Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was spotted at a recent Toronto Marlies (Leafs American League farm team) game. Given Brassard’s $3.2 million per season cap hit, Garrioch feels the Jackets cannot afford to keep the 24-year-old buried on their fourth line or in the press box for much longer.
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported he “got the sense” center Nazem Kadri, the Leafs first round pick in 2009, was being “scouted hard” and suggested Kadri was Burke’s trade chip.
Friedman didn’t specify which teams are scouting Kadri, but the Blue Jackets are likely among them.
If Burke were to swap Kadri for Brassard, he’d have to free up sufficient cap space first.
Kadri is in the second season of his three-year entry level deal, which pays him a base salary of $900,000 at the NHL level, with performance bonuses that push his cap hit to $1.72 million.
The Leafs currently have some cap relief with defenseman Mike Komisarek ($4.5 million), center Matthew Lombardi ($3.5 million) and winger Mike Brown ($736,000) on the injured reserve, but would have to clear sufficient cap space when those three return to action.
ISLANDERS JUGGLE GOALIES
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will soon return from a groin injury, but don’t expect the New York Islanders to shop him when he does.
Prior to Nabokov’s injury, the Isles – who are also carrying goalies Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya – were believed to be showcasing him for a trade.
With each of those three sidelined with an injury at various points this season, GM Garth Snow told Newsday he’s isn’t looking to trade any of them.
DiPietro is currently sidelined indefinitely with a groin injury, though Montoya is showing no lingering effects from a hamstring pull that sidelined him for three games in late November.
Snow could change his mind closer to the trade deadline if all three get and remain healthy through January and February, especially if he got an offer too good to refuse for Nabokov from teams in dire need of goaltending help at the deadline.
CANUCKS NOT LOOKING FOR TRUCULENCE
Vancouver Canucks fans hoping GM Mike Gillis will add a tough guy or two to the lineup this season are likely going to be disappointed.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province reported Gillis had pointed out his team did well last season without an enforcer and stated “we’re starting to do it again” this season.
Gillis could look toward adding more depth to his fourth line later this season. If he does, Botchford suggested the incoming player(s) would be like left winger Christopher Higgins (added at last season’s deadline) – an effective checker with good speed and a decent scoring touch.
TURCO SIGNS OVERSEAS
Goaltender Marty Turco remains an unrestricted free agent, but he’s found some short-term work this month overseas.
Turco signed a short-term contract with Austria’s EC Red Bull Salzburg, who’ll be appearing in the European Trophy Finals Dec. 16-18.
Perhaps Turco is hoping to parlay a strong performance in that tournament into an NHL contract, just as Curtis Joseph’s performance at the 2007 Spengler Cup landed him a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
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.