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Leaf blowing

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

With the Toronto Maple Leafs off to one of the worst starts in franchise history (0-6-1) it was inevitable trade rumors would begin swirling around the club.

Leafs GM Brian Burke admitted to the Toronto Sun he’s received phone calls from some of his rivals hoping the Leafs’ poor start would force him into making a rash quick-fix trade.

Don’t count on that as Burke dismissed what he’s been offered thus far as “anchors thrown at me.”

Still, the Sun suggested rival GMs think Burke might consider a trade later to avoid finishing dead-last since he traded away his first round pick to the Boston Bruins, which would then potentially become the first overall pick in 2010.

The Globe and Mail noted Burke will be patient for now, claiming most GMs tend not to consider making drastic moves until after the U.S. Thanksgiving in late November. Should Burke jump into the trade market, he’ll likely move players he no longer considers having a future with the Leafs; perhaps Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan or Niklas Hagman.

Burke apparently has a policy whereby he doesn’t shop players in December, preferring not to put any of his players’ home lives into upheaval by trading them so close to the Christmas holidays.

Still, if Burke were able to drum up a deal by the Christmas trade freeze that would help the Leafs, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility he’d make an exception to that rule.

Internet rumor sites have linked the Leafs with Anaheim Ducks goaltender J-S Giguere and UFA winger Brendan Shanahan, but the possibility of Burke landing either seems remote.

Giguere is determined to battle Jonas Hiller for the starter’s job with the Ducks, while Burke recently said he was not in contact with Shanahan, who is rumored to be considering retirement.

• Dallas Morning News hockey columnist Mike Heika addressed some reader mail expressing criticism of Stars starting goaltender Marty Turco, rejecting the notion the club will trade the veteran at some point in the season.

Heika reports Stars management believes their chances of going deep into next spring’s playoffs are better with Turco than without.

Turco has a 1-1-3 record with a .910 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average with one shutout this season.

If the Stars fall out of the playoff race by the trade deadline it’s possible they would consider moving the goalie, as he doesn’t have a no-movement clause this season and is eligible for UFA status in July.

Until that scenario unfolds, don’t expect to see Turco playing for anyone else this season.

• Another goalie popping up in the rumor mill is Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak.

The Ottawa Sunreported Sunday Canadiens GM Bob Gainey was fielding calls from several teams interested in making Halak a starter, suggesting Chicago, Detroit, Washington and Tampa Bay could be in the market later this season for help between the pipes.

While Halak had a better training camp this year than starter Carey Price, he’s made only one start – a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames – so it’s premature to suggest he’s the better goalie at this point in the season.

If, however, Price’s struggles continue, Halak would likely get more playing time and if he does indeed wrest the starting goalie role from Price it’s a good bet the Habs won’t move him.

The Canadiens could use a big, scoring forward, but Halak would have to turn into the reincarnation of Patrick Roy to attract that kind of player – and if that happened he certainly wouldn’t be dealt.

• The Sun article also claimed the Florida Panthers are trying to move center Nathan Horton, who is of to a slow start with only two points in his first six games.

Horton, currently in the third season of a six-year contract paying him $4 million per, has regressed since his 62-point seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Last season his numbers dipped to 45 points in 67 games, leading some observers to wonder when the 24-year-old, who was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft, would start playing up to expectations.

It’s too early in the season to suggest the Panthers want to dump Horton – and his contract would be a significant stumbling block were he to hit the trade block – but if they do shop him there would certainly be interest in the 6-foot-2, 229-pounder.

If the Panthers do decide to move him, they’ll have to do it before July 1, as that’s when his no-trade clause goes into effect for the remainder of his deal.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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