Rumor Roundup: With nine UFAs, Leafs aren't done dealing
Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer.
The Toronto Maple Leafs trading defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators served to stoke speculation over which Maple Leafs could be next out the door. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail notes the Leafs have nine players — goaltender James Reimer, defenseman Roman Polak and forwards P-A Parenteau, Michael Grabner, Shawn Matthias, Brad Boyes, Nick Spaling, Marco Arcobello and Rich Clune — eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
It’s expected Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello will try to move as many as he can for prospects and/or draft picks. Mirtle believes Reimer and Parenteau hold the most value, suggesting they could fetch second-round picks or prospects.
Lamoriello could also try moving a player with term remaining on his contract if there’s a decent returnn to be had. Mirtle claims the Leafs discussed moving goaltender Jonathan Bernier and center Daniel Winnik. He also suggests center Tyler Bozak could hold interest in the trade market, but left winger Joffrey Lupul’s injury history makes him difficult to move.
Mirtle doubts Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner will be shopped. He considers them part of the young core the Leafs wish to build around.
The Phaneuf trade also increased anticipation the Leafs are preparing to pursue Tampa Bay Lightning center Stephen Stamkos if he becomes a UFA in July. Having traded away their captain in Phaneuf, the Leafs will be lacking experienced leadership and star presence. Stamkos could fill both roles.
But as Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times points out, there’s no guarantees the Leafs can land Stamkos, who wants to win a Stanley Cup. Smith believes the Lightning captain could receive lucrative offers from clubs in better position to win than the Leafs.
SENATORS FRONT RUNNERS FOR DROUIN?
Having bolstered his blueline with Dion Phaneuf, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray could turn his attention toward adding a top-six forward. TVA Sports reporters Louis Jean and Renaud Lavoie claim the Senators are now the front-runners for suspended Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin.
The Senators surfaced last month among the suitors for the 20-year-old Drouin, who struggled to establish himself as a playmaker with the Lightning. Murray is also interested in adding a player with term left on his contract. Drouin is in the second season of a three-year entry-level deal, making him quite affordable for the cost-conscious Senators.
For weeks, the St. Louis Blues were considered the prime candidates to land Drouin. However, it seems their interest has faded, especially with left winger Jaden Schwartz returning from a fractured ankle. The Senators also have depth in young players and prospects to dangle for Drouin. It’s believed the Lightning seek either a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot or a couple of top prospects.
KINGS EYEING JETS’ LADD
In the wake of the Winnipeg Jets re-signing defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to an expensive new contract, there’s increasing chatter over pending UFA left winger Andrew Ladd’s future. Consensus among the punditry suggests the 30-year-old Ladd will be playing elsewhere by the end of the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
If the Jets shop Ladd, they won’t lack for suitors. Teams in need of scoring depth, like the Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils, could come calling soon.
Prior to Byfuglien signing his new deal, there was talk the Los Angeles Kings were interested in him. NBC Sports’ Mike Halford cites a Winnipeg Free Press report claiming the Kings could shift their interest to Ladd.
Their rumored interest in Byfuglien was to fill the gap left by the departed Slava Voynov on their blueline. If so, it’s odd that they would suddenly go after Ladd, especially when they’ve got Milan Lucic and Marian Gaborik on the left side. Gaborik, however, has struggled offensively this season, so perhaps the Kings see the need to bolster their left wing if they can’t land a top-four blueliner.
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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