Which Leaf will go next?
Kris Versteeg was acquired by Toronto in the summer, by may last less than a season there. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Which Leaf will go next?
The Toronto Maple Leafs' trading of defenseman Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim in exchange for right winger Joffrey Lupul, blueline prospect Jake Gardiner and a conditional 2013 draft pick has Leafs fans wondering what other moves GM Brian Burke has in store as the trade deadline nears.
Burke fuelled the anticipation following his announcement of the Beauchemin trade by saying “we're not done,” though he claimed nothing was imminent.
Potential trade candidates are winger Kris Versteeg, defenseman Tomas Kaberle and goaltender J-S Giguere.
David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail speculated Versteeg would likely be next, perhaps for a center, while Kaberle's situation was complicated by his no-trade clause and what Shoalts called a “frosty” relationship with Burke. Kaberle would likely only waive his clause for two or three Eastern-based teams, which seriously limits his market value.
The Rangers are rumored to have interest in Kaberle, but according to Newsday's Arthur Staple, Burke's asking price is believed to be an NHL player, a highly valued prospect and perhaps a first round draft pick.
Staple doubted the Rangers would mortgage their future for a playoff rental, which is what Kaberle would be.
Giguere, meanwhile, told the Toronto Sun he's not seeking a trade, but didn't want to be caught off-guard and intended to meet with Burke to determine if he'd be shopped by the deadline. The veteran goalie has stated he'd be willing to accept a trade if the right offer came along.
Versteeg would be the easiest to move of the three as he lacks a trade or movement clause and is a young player (24) with considerable upside who is signed through next season for a little more than $3 million.
Some viewed the acquisition of Lupul as Toronto management clearing the way for a Versteeg trade - it would likely take someone like him (a young, talented and reasonably affordable player) to land a quality center at this point in the season.
Kaberle and Giguere are older than 30 and unrestricted free agents this summer. The combination of their trade clauses, a potentially high asking price for Kaberle and Giguere's recent injury history could significantly hamper attempts to move both.
LOTS OF OPTIONS FOR HEMSKY, PENNER
Edmonton Oilers forwards Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky remain as fixtures in the rumor mill, yet both seem unwilling to leave Edmonton.
They each have one more season remaining on their current contract and that has led to questions about their long-term future with the Oilers.
Penner and Hemsky recently told the local media they wouldn't mind staying, but wondered where they fit in the club's rebuilding plans.
Hemsky has been recently linked to the Atlanta Thrashers, while Toronto and Montreal were considered possible trade destinations for Penner.
On Wednesday evening it was reported Oilers GM Steve Tambellini had yet to meet with the pair, though TSN's Ryan Rishaug claimed the club had begun early talks with Penner.
Tambellini, however, told the Edmonton Journal he wasn't feeling pressure to clean house or dump salary at this year's deadline, noting they'd already cleared salary and roster space for their young players. He did say, as the deadline nears, he would maintain an open mind for any deals that could help his club now and in the future.
It's been suggested the Oilers would get a better return for either Hemsky or Penner (or both) if they were shopped at this year's trade deadline rather than next, but if Tambellini is thinking of moving them perhaps a better opportunity would be during the June draft weekend, when teams will have more cap space to spend.
WILL ATLANTA TRADE ZACH BOGOSIAN?
Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian also saw his name added to the rumor mill recently when Sportsnet's Gene Principe tweeted there was “lots of talk” of Bogosian being dealt to Edmonton, citing two Thrashers scouts had attended Tuesday's Edmonton-Nashville game.
They might've been scouting the Oilers in anticipation of the Feb. 19 game between the two clubs, but with the trade deadline so close the presence of scouts from rival teams is bound to stir up the mill.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported it's possible Bogosian will be available, though he noted the club wasn't shopping the young defenseman or actively entertaining offers.
McKenzie reported of a potential rift between Bogosian and new assistant coach John Torchetti this season. Coach Craig Ramsey admitted to a “misunderstanding” with Bogosian earlier in the season, but insisted that has since been worked out, noting the 20-year-old's performance had improved in recent weeks.
The Thrashers have been sliding down the Eastern Conference standings for more than a month now, which is stoking the Bogosian rumors. But it would be a big mistake to part with a promising young blueliner for a potential short-term fix to bolster their playoff hopes.
BLACKHAWKS’ SEABROOK ON THE BLOCK?
Sportsnet.ca's Roger Millions recently created a stir across the hockey twitter-scape with his Wednesday tweet that claimed he'd heard from a source close to the Chicago Blackhawks there was talk of trading defenseman Brent Seabrook, possibly to the Oilers, though he seemed sceptical of such a move.
Seabrook, however, didn't seem concerned about the trade rumor, telling the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc that people “write what they want to write and if they're true they're true and if they're not, they're not.”
That reply isn't likely to silence the trade talk, but it must be remembered Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman recently said his intent was to re-sign Seabrook, a restricted free agent this summer, and that he was pleased with the blueliner's performance this season.
So unless contract talks between Bowman and the Seabrook camp have irrevocably broken down, it's doubtful the defenseman will be moved at the deadline.
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.