12/01/2008 at 10:10pm EST
During Saturday’s press conference to the Toronto media, Brian Burke all but confirmed that the Leafs are officially out of the Sundin sweepstakes. “I don’t think we fit his profile as a team,” said Burke. He referred to the 2-year $20 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks, putting the emphasis on the fact that Sundin’s comeback is not about money, but about playing for a contender.
Therefore, if Burke is not looking to add Sundin to his team, this means he will likely try to unload some veterans.
Look for Burke to start moving players in January as he will study his team in the next few weeks to see which players fit his style of players: physical, gritty, tough, hardworker, reliable defensively, etc.
Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph is having a tough season, posting a 3.95 GAA and a woeful .861 save percentage. He hasn’t won any game yet for the Leafs. The veteran goaltender might be asked to hang his skates to give some seasoning to Justin Pogge, the Leafs’ goaltender of the future.
Defensemen: Tomas Kaberle could also be on the move, provided that he lifts his no-movement clause, by the trade deadline. Kaberle, a great puck-moving defenseman, would become a hot-commodity in the NHL, espcially around the trading deadline, as there won’t be many offensive defensemen available this season, save for Jay Bouwmeester. Signed through 2010-2011, Kaberle is quite affordable at $4.25 million/season. Pavel Kubina could also be traded around the deadline, but his high salary $5 million/season makes him hard to trade.
Forward/defenseman Ian White was also on the trade market at the beginning of the season, but his versatility proved to be quite useful when the Leafs’ defense got depleted by injuries (Van Ryn, Finger, Frogren).
Forwards: Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nikolai Antropov have never lived up to their expectations even though they are big forwards loaded with skills. They never took advantage of their large frame to get free in front of the opponents’ net.
The 6’4’‘, 220 lb, Ponikarovsky has never reached 50 points over his 8-year career with the Leafs. His best season has been 45 points in 2006-07. This season he is on pace for 57 points, so it would be a good time to trade as his valuewill never be higher.
The 6’5’‘, 230 lb, Antropov had a career-year last season, notching 26 goals and 56 points in 72 games. Antropov, who is on pace for 64 points this season, is set to become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season. He could very well become a highly-sought after player at the trade deadline for a team that is looking for depth and size at centre.
Brian Burke would also really like to trade inconsistent Jason Blake, but his $4 million/year bloated contract makes him nearly impossible to move. With three years left to Blake’s contract after this season, expect Brian Burke to buy him out unless he starts producing all-star caliber numbers on the ice. Blake has only 10 points in 19 games this season.
Another candidate to be traded earlier to this season would have been Matt Stajan, but his stellar play (20 points in 22 games) after being a healthy scratch given him some kind of breathing room. It’s the first time Stajan is logging big minutes as the Leafs first-line centre and he has responded well. His affordable salary at $1.75 million per year also makes him an attractive player for Burke.
Who would you move? For draft picks, prospects or younger established players? From:www.nhl-northeast.com