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Thomas trade talk and Kovalchuk to Kings

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke continues to consider his trade options heading into the unrestricted free agent period, but Boston Bruins center Marc Savard apparently isn’t among them.

Although Savard was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Toronto, Burke said his options don’t include the playmaking center.

Bob McKenzie of TSN reported the Leafs might have interest in Savard or Dallas Stars center Mike Ribeiro, but aren’t feeling as though they have to rush into anything. McKenzie also reported contract talks with restricted free agent Nikolai Kulemin appear to be making progress toward a deal worth $2.5 million per season.

Savard was also willing to waive his clause for the Ottawa Senators, but director of player personnel Pierre Dorion told the Ottawa Sun the Senators lack the ability to comfortably take on Savard’s $4 million per season cap hit.

McKenzie’s TSN colleague, Darren Dreger, suggested we shouldn’t expect much from the Leafs until after the start of the UFA period.

Burke has been fielding offers for defenseman Tomas Kaberle and it’s believed he’ll hold off on making any moves involving the blueliner until roughly mid-July in hopes of attracting better offers once the best defensive free agent talent has been signed.

If Burke isn’t interested in Savard it’s unlikely he’d have interest in Ribeiro, a talented, but smallish center earning $5 million per season who doesn’t fit the mold of physical centers coveted by the Leafs GM.

FLYERS LOOKING AT NABOKOV, TURCO

Approaching the start of the UFA period there was confusion over whether the Philadelphia Flyers had given up on signing former San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov and turned their focus instead to former Dallas Star Marty Turco.

Turco claimed he’d rejected a three-year deal worth just more than $2 million per season from the Flyers, but team sources denied Turco had been sent an offer.

Despite his supposed willingness to talk contract with Michael Leighton’s agent, it appeared Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was looking at bringing in a more experienced starter for next season.

If Turco or Nabokov won’t accept an affordable, short-term contract or if Holmgren cannot sign a less-notable No. 1 like Chris Mason, the Flyers have little choice but to return with Leighton.

Speculation persists, meanwhile, Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas would be a good fit for the Flyers, but the expectation Thomas will be traded appears to have fizzled out since the draft weekend.

The Bruins’ potential plans for moving Thomas and/or center Marc Savard will depend on what moves are made in the UFA market.

The Bruins, like the Maple Leafs, will be counting on teams that fail to address their goaltending or offensive needs via free agency to be more willing to listen to trade offers.

KOVALCHUK A FIT IN LOS ANGELES

Heading toward the UFA period it’s all but certain superstar left winger Ilya Kovalchuk will be testing the UFA market.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun noted that despite Kovalchuk’s immense talent there are not many teams that can afford to take him on.

The Los Angeles Kings, who were linked to Kovalchuk prior to his trade from Atlanta to New Jersey in February, are considered the likely destination, although the Devils are apparently still hopeful of re-signing him.

OTHER NOTABLE UFAs

Maxim Afinogenov and Colby Armstrong of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman of the Buffalo Sabres.

John Madden, Nick Boynton, Adam Burish and Kim Johnsson of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars.

Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils.

Anton Volchenkov of the Ottawa Senators.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays 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.

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