As the Toronto Maple Leafs begin November with only two victories in their first 11 games, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran wonders which members of the roster will stay or go over the course of the club's rebuild.
McGran believes center Peter Holland is on thin ice with coach Mike Babcock. He also considers forwards Leo Komarov, Shawn Matthias, and Daniel Winnik as likely trade-deadline fodder, along with Brad Boyes, Rich Clune, Michael Grabner, and P-A Parenteau.
Of the core players, McGran thinks winger Joffrey Lupul could be dealt sooner rather than later. He feels the 32-year-old could fetch a high return if he can “score and stay healthy.”
Staying healthy, however, is a problem for Lupul, who has a lengthy injury history. That issue will only continue as he enters his mid-30s. Factor in his $5.25-million annual cap hit through 2017-18, and Lupul likely won't get much interest in the trade market, let alone bring the Leafs a good return.
McGran also includes goalie James Reimer among those with better than 50 percent chance of being part of the Leafs' long-term plans. But given his UFA status in July and the club's apparent commitment to Jonathan Bernier as their starter, the 27-year-old Reimer could also be on the move by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
Speaking of the Leafs and goaltending, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims GM Lou Lamoriello is sniffing around for help between the pipes. If so, he's unlikely to find anything worthwhile right now.
The Calgary Flames are currently playing musical goalie with Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio, with none of them showing any signs of improvement this season. The Minnesota Wild would undoubtedly love to shed veteran Niklas Backstrom, and it's rumored he's willing to waive his no-movement clause to accept a trade. However, his age (37), injury history and $3.416-million cap hit won't tempt Lamoriello, or any other NHL GM this season.
With Frederik Andersen playing well in Anaheim, perhaps Lamoriello can convince Ducks GM Bob Murray to part with backup Anton Khudobin. Forget about prying promising John Gibson out of Anaheim, as Murray apparently has no interest in parting with him.
The Tampa Bay Lightning could be another trade target for Lamoriello, provided GM Steve Yzerman is willing to move Kristers Gudlevskis once backup Andrei Vasilevskiy returns from his AHL conditioning stint. Then again, Yzerman could retain Gudlevskis as injury insurance for Vasilevskiy and starter Ben Bishop.
Minor league options could include Peter Budaj, Dustin Tokarski or the well-travelled Michael Leighton.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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 The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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