Kris Versteeg was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks in the off-season. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has been shopping around for months in hopes of landing a deal to bolster his struggling team and if recent reports are correct he could be close to finally making one.
TSN's Bob McKenzie believed we’ll finally see some trade activity soon (though nothing major), suggesting the Leafs could be involved.
Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun reported Saturday that a source claimed the Leafs were close to a deal last week that fell apart Friday. He also noted a rumor that had Burke acquiring defenseman Ryan Parent from Vancouver, but doubted its validity as Parent was a little-used Canucks defenseman who wouldn't suit the Leafs needs.
Perhaps that near-deal was for Kris Versteeg, whom the Leafs reportedly received a solid offer for last week.
Versteeg's on pace for 22 goals and a career-high 55 points playing on one of the worst teams in the league, so any offer for him would have to be quite substantial to pique Burke's interest. Most likely the Leafs GM would prefer to retain Versteeg and attempt to land another scorer, possibly by moving a defenseman.
McKenzie's fellow TSN analyst, Darren Dreger, recently claimed there had been some interest in blueliner Francois Beauchemin.
Beauchemin has a limited no-trade clause and earns $3.8 million per season, but that contract expires at the end of 2011-12. Beauchemin's playoff experience with Anaheim - where he helped the Ducks win a Stanley Cup - will interest playoff contenders seeking a veteran defenseman.
One possible destination, according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, is the San Jose Sharks, who've been in the market for some time for experienced blueline depth. Sharks GM Doug Wilson is well-acquainted with Beauchemin's play from his days with the rival Ducks.
The New York Islanders spent last week getting a start on yet another rebuilding process by trading away pending UFAs Dwayne Roloson and James Wisniewski to Tampa Bay and Montreal for minor league defenseman Ty Wishart and draft picks.
Don't expect franchise player John Tavares to be part of their roster purge, however.
Tavares' agent, Pat Brisson, dismissed rumors his client would refuse to re-sign with New York when his current contract expires at the end of next season, saying the young center wants to remain an Islander and help the club rebuild into a winner.
Brisson's words might quell rumors about Tavares for now, but speculation will continue as long as the Isles continue to flounder. It is ridiculous, however, to predict he'll “refuse to re-sign,” since all he'd have to do if he really wanted off the Island is accept an offer sheet from a rival club.
While the Isles have been tight-fisted with their payroll, expect them to spend what it takes to lock up Tavares long-term prior to July 2012.
A year after surprising the NHL by becoming one of the top teams in the West, the Phoenix Coyotes found themselves sitting 12th overall in the conference and in danger of falling out of the playoff race.
A lack of offensive production this season has tested the patience of GM Don Maloney. He recently told the Arizona Republic if the scoring didn't pick up soon he'd look for other people to do the job. He also hinted that if some of his younger players can take away ice time from some veterans he'd look at making other changes, too.
In other words, underachievers such as Radim Vrbata, Scottie Upshall, Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski could hit the block by the trade deadline unless they pick up their game.
Various reports out of Florida this past weekend noted the Panthers have placed veteran center Steven Reinprecht on waivers.
Reinprecht, 34, is in the second year of a three-year, $6.52 million contract, but has only 10 points in 29 games this season. GM Dale Tallon is attempting to trade him, but failing that could demote Reinprecht to the American League should he clear waivers.
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 Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.
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