Josh Harding is stuck in the No. 2 role behind Niklas Backstrom in Minnesota. (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke could be in the market for goaltending depth.
He recently told Sportsnet he was considering other options and added that a team can never have too much depth in goal.
It remains to be seen what those options are for Burke, whose regular tandem of Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson are currently sidelined with injuries. His comments are bound to stoke speculation he’s in pursuit of Anaheim’s J-S Giguere, who is currently battling with Jonas Hiller for the Ducks starting job.
If Burke does go the trade route, it’s unlikely he’ll land Giguere, who appears determined to stick with the Ducks thanks to his no-movement clause.
Another potential trade option could be Minnesota’s Josh Harding, although he’s not off to a terrific start with the Wild, going 0-2 with a bloated 5.50 goals-against average and an embarrassing .738 save percentage.
Still, Harding’s career NHL stats are very good – 2.61 goals-against and .915 save percentage – so perhaps he could benefit from a change of scenery.
Burke won’t find much left in the UFA market, where only Manny Fernandez, Kevin Weekes and former Leaf Curtis Joseph remain unsigned.
The Leafs GM might wish to consult a recent list from USA Today’s Kevin Allen of several goaltenders who, for various reasons, might become trade bait later this season.
Among those listed were Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen, currently sidelined by injury, but in danger of losing his starter’s job because of Ondrej Pavelec’s strong play; either Martin Biron or Dwayne Roloson of the Islanders, should Rick DiPietro finally return to action; Vancouver Canucks third stringer Cory Schneider; and, of course, Giguere.
The best possibility could be Lehtonen, although his injury history will make him a tough sell. Schneider has potential, but limited NHL experience. A better bet could be either Biron or Roloson, but only if DiPietro returns to the lineup soon.
• A recent article in Newsday mused about the possibility of the New York Islanders trading away team captain Doug Weight by the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline.
Last season, Weight’s resurgent performance attracted considerable attention in the rumor mill until he was sidelined by a mid-season injury.
At the time, Weight stated he had no interest in being moved, but this season he’s on a one-year contract and lacks a no-trade clause. If the Isles find themselves outside the playoff picture by late February they might be willing to listen to offers for the veteran center.
For now, however, don’t expect the Isles to shop Weight, as they’ll be relying on his leadership and experience to provide a valuable boost to this rebuilding franchise.
• Forget the recent rumor from the Ottawa Sun claiming the Florida Panthers were shopping forward Nathan Horton.
Panthers GM Randy Sexton vehemently denied the report, saying there was no truth to it and the rumor was a fabrication.
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.