Toronto Maple Leafs looking for center help
– According to Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun, the Maple Leafs with the prolonged losses of Dave Bolland and now Tyler Bozak are looking for a center capable of shouldering a second or third line. Addedo the loss of Joffrey Lupul to a groin injury, the Maple Leafs are going through the injury bug and are failing to put consecutive wins together. Garrioch added that the Leafs did show interest in Vernon Fiddler with the Stars, who asked his management for a trade. Following a discussion between Fiddler and the Jim Nill, Fiddler was pulled off the market which forced the Leafs to look elsewhere. This may force the Leafs to turn towards the Florida Panthers who do have forward players available. A player such as Scott Gomez or Shawn Matthias may be useful short term for the Leafs.
Editor’s Note: A player like Scott Gomez who is now earning a salary in the lower range since his buyout may be the best solution for the Leafs who are close to the cap limit and wouldn’t require a huge return for the Leafs.
Defensemen on the block
According to ESPN.com, there are a few young defensemen available on the trding block right now. First Michael Del Zotto is problably the best candidate available. He has been left out of the lineup for a few games by Alain Vigneault and he can certainly move the puck. The first round draft pick of 2008 has currently 5 points but is minus -9 with the New York Rangers. Several teams have inquired such as the Oilers who may have had an offer on the table at some point, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Philadelphia Flyers and even the Toronto Maple Leafs. The problem Del Zotto is not moved is because the Rangers are asking too much and the prize is high.
Also available and falling under the same specifics of Del Zotto, is Dmitry Kulikov in Florida which Dale Tallon would like to trade but not at any price. The Leafs again are quite interested and this could cost a Jake Gardiner for example, who’s also been rumored to be on the trace block. A former first-round draft pick with the Florida Panthers Kulikov like Del Zotto is a puck moving defensemen but is struggling this year and hasn’t developped as promised. The Leafs could be tempted to swap with Florida for young inexpensive defensemen.
Speaking of Jake Gardiner, he is another young promising defenseman who this year has been struggling and has been rumored to be traded. Gardiner who was playing better lately could have a better return for the Leafs based on his recent play. Gardiner who has 1 goal and seven assists for eight points is now plus 3 this year. Gardiner also had 2 points in his last two games. Colorado Avalanche have had interest in Gardiner coupled with the Oilers and Islanders.
Also of note, Dmitry Orlov who hasn’t been in head coach Adam Oates plan has been rumored to be offered by general manager Georges McPhee. Orlov this year has no points in only 3 games played for Capitals. He has also expressed interest to pursue his career in the KHL if his playing time doesn’t improve as specified in his contract.
Tim Gleason is another defenseman, that is on the trading block that could help another team in structuring a stable defensive corps in preparation for the playoff. Jim Rutherford has offered the 9 year veteran Gleason to many teams such as the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders but the recent lower body injury Gleason had cooled the rumors in his case. He returned last Friday to action and it is expected the rumors will heat up prior to the trade freeze of 19 Dec 13.
Will Boston seek help?
Keep an eye on the Bruins who have lost a few key players in the past few days. Starting with Johnny Boychuk who collided in the board when being checked by Max Pacioretty when the Bruins played the Habs last Thursday in their 2-1 loss in Montreal. Next the game against the Penguins on Saturday proved to be costly losing Loui Eriksson to a potential concussion, Chris Kelly to a broken ankle, Adam McQuaid is still out with a lower body injury and finally Shawn Thornton who’s expected to miss several games due to a lengthy suspension on his attack on Brooks Orpik. The Bruins recalled Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser from their AHL affiliate team in Providence. Add Boston now to be looking for a potential third line forward to replace Kelly and Eriksson.
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