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Maple Leafs: Oilers interested in Dion Phaneuf – how realistic is it?

Dion Phaneuf

As reported yesterday, former Leafs assistant GM Bill Watters has claimed the Edmonton Oilers are interested in Dion Phaneuf.  This is not the first time the Leafs captain’s name has come up recently in potential trade rumours.

The question is, how much truth should be attached to Watters declaration, and is this scenario a realistic proposition?  On the surface at least, the addition of Phaneuf would fill a need in defence for an Oilers team looking to add experienced leadership to a talented, but young, squad.

For all the critics Phaneuf has, both in Toronto and further afield, he plays major minutes and goes up against the oppositions best players every night.  At 6ft’ 3” and 214 lbs, he has good size and is still more than capable of 40-50 point seasons.

One key consideration which always plays a big part, is the financial aspect.  On the one hand, Phaneuf is due to make $5.5 million during the 2013/14 campaign, which may seem slightly expensive.  However, the Oilers can afford it and it could be worth a calculated risk for one year.

The former ninth overall draft pick is set to become an unrestricted free agent next year, which would give the Oilers time to monitor the situation before making any long-term decisions.  From Toronto’s perspective, there are those who believe it is time for a fresh start for the 28-year old, with a trade to Edmonton representing a move home.

With Phaneuf entering the final year of his contract, the chances of the Leafs getting much in return are debateable, making Oilers coach Dallas Eakins an important factor.  Given his time in Toronto, Eakins relationship with Dave Nonis and the Leafs organisation could prove beneficial for both sides in their attempts to negotiate any deal.

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Leafs: Latest rumours as free agency begins

tyler bozak

With the NHL free agency period set to officially begin today at 12pm ET, here’s some of the rumours currently circulating in respect of the Leafs:

TYLER BOZAK

The Leafs centre has been one of the more polarising figures recently in Toronto.  However, despite decreasing his demands to five years at $5 million, reports indicate Leafs GM Dave Nonis is not willing to accept this.  This does not mean Nonis would not like to bring Bozak back if it’s feasible, but as it stands, negotiations are ongoing.

ROD SCUDERI

The Kings defenceman is high on the list of players the Leafs would love to bring in.  Scuderi proved to be a key part of two Stanley Cup winning sides in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.   Word has it that the Leafs are at the top of Scuderi’s list if he leaves the Kings, although there could be competition from his former team, the Penguins.

MICHAEL RIBERIO

Apparently, the Leafs have reached a verbal agreement with a ‘Major UFA’, which will be announced today.  According to rumours, there are two names being mentioned prominently, one of which is centre Michael Riberio.  If this is true, fan opinion could be split on a player who, while more than capable of scoring 70 points next season, is often criticised for his lack of toughness.

DAVID CLARKSON

The other player being linked with the Leafs as their high-profile UFA signing, is David Clarkson.  The winger is renowned for being aggressive, something which would be of huge benefit to the team next season, especially if they make the playoffs.  Make no mistake though, if Clarkson does come to Toronto, it won’t be cheap. (Reports indicate he will get in the region of 7 years at $6 million.)

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Leafs Draft Day rumours: Dion Phaneuf for Paul Stastny trade a possibility

Paul Stastny

With the NHL draft less than an hour away, the flurry of trade rumours will only intensify, as teams look to put themselves in the best position possible.  The Leafs will be no different and you can be sure their name will crop up repeatedly throughout the course of this evening.

In the build up to the 2013 draft, the Leafs have already been linked with a move for Sam Gagner, although the centre is currently in negotiations with the Oilers, regarding a new deal.  Another rumour involving Edmonton, has the Leafs sending Jake Gardiner or Carl Gunnarsson, along with their 21st pick, to Alberta, in exchange for the seventh overall selection.

Another possibility that has come to light, involves Dave Nonis swapping Dion Phaneuf with Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche.  The Leafs GM would prefer not to trade his captain, although he did recently indicate no one is exempt from being traded, especially as they search for quality cover at the centre position.

Stansty is a strong skater who is described as an intelligent playmaker,  capable of scoring between 60-70 points. From Phaneuf’s point of view, there are those who believe his time in Toronto is up, with such a move representing a fresh start and a move closer to home.

Whatever the ramifications of such a trade, it wouldn’t be an issue from a financial standpoint.  Both Phaneuf and Stastny become UFAs’ in 2014 and their cap hit for next season is remarkably similar, standing at $6.5 million and $6.6 million respectively.

With the Avalanche holding the first overall draft pick, who they select could determine if any deal with the Leafs is possible, although even this is open to perception.  If Colorado  selects Nathan MacKinnon, do they see him playing behind Matt Duchene and Stansty, or is this an indication that there is no longer any room for their alternate captain?

Hopefully, matters will become clearer during the coming hours in New Jersey.

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Maple Leafs interested in Oilers Sam Gagner

Sam Gagner

Despite the headlines made after acquiring Jonathan Bernier from the L.A. Kings, it appears the Leafs are only just getting started.  According to reports, GM Dave Nonis has held talks with the Edmonton Oilers about Sam Gagner.

While these discussions are in the early stages, there’s no denying Gagner is exactly what the Leafs are in need of: an extremely talented young centre.  At 23, the former 6th overall draft pick has a long career ahead of him.

With negotiations between the Leafs and Tyler Bozak not going too well, this makes even more sense, although one potential issue is Gagner’s own salary demands.  He is set to become a restricted free agent on July 5th and is apparently asking for $4.5 million + on his next contract.

This is reportedly how much Bozak is also looking for in his new deal, although Gagner is the better choice if the Leafs are going to pay out that kind of money.  Despite his size (5ft 11, 199 lbs), Gagner is as tough as they come and he’s capable of scoring around 55-60 points in a full season.

The question is, what would the Leafs have to give up in return?  One possibility is Dion Phaneuf, who is heading into the sixth and final year of a $39 million contract.  With the Oilers looking to add a top 2 defenceman with size and experience for next season, the Leafs captain could certainly fill a need.

While people will question the feasibility of such a trade, one key factor could be the Oilers new head coach, Dallas Eakins.  Given his time in Toronto, Eakins relationship with Nonis and the Leafs organisation could prove beneficial for both sides in their attempts to work out any deal.

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Leafs: Stephen Weiss to replace Tyler Bozak?

stephen weiss florida panthers

One of many dilemmas facing the Leafs is whether or not to resign Tyler Bozak, who is eligible to become a free agent this summer.  While he is not viewed as one of the top centres in the NHL, Bozak still plays an important role for the team, including being their top faceoff man.

GM Dave Nonis would love to resign the 27 year old, but money, as always, will be the sticking point.  Bozak has indicated his desire to remain with the Leafs, but this could become a moot point if he wishes to be paid like a top-line centre. (The most common figure being quoted is $5.5 million.)

Bozak made $1.4 million this past season and while he deserves to be paid more, there are several aspects to consider, such as a salary cap that is decreasing from $70.2 million to $64.3 million for next season.  Another factor is the Leafs current projected cap room of $19.5 million, with decisions to be made on restricted free agents such as Nazem Kadri and whether to keep Phil Kessel or take advantage of his current trade value.

All of this leads to the question of what the Leafs will do if they don’t resign Bozak? According to sources, one of they’re main replacement targets is Stephen Weiss.

While Weiss struggled for the Florida Panthers last season, this was due to a wrist injury that required surgery in March and cut short his campaign.  However, the former 2001 fourth overall draft pick is still regarded as one of the best two-way centres in the league.

Despite his age (30), the general perception is that Weiss still has plenty left in the tank.  The former U20 Team Canada selection, recorded 62 points as recently as the 2011-12 season, including five in seven games during his first exposure to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Current indications are that Weiss would prefer to return to the Panthers, although this is not expected to deter Nonis from aggressively chasing him in the event that Bozak leaves.  One factor which may or may not help is that signing for the Leafs would be a homecoming for Weiss, who was born and raised in Toronto.

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Maple Leafs latest trade deadline rumours: Tim Connolly a healthy scratch for Marlies

Tim Connolly Toronto Maple Leafs

As the Leafs continue to look at their options ahead of today’s trade deadline at 3:00pm ET, one of the aspects to consider is who or what they can use as a makeweight in any deal.

In this respect, Tim Connolly is a healthy scratch for the Marlies ahead of their game today against the Lake Erie Monsters.  While it was always considered a risk to sign the former Buffalo Sabre, he has still been considered a disappointment by the Leafs.

After signing a two-year $9.5 million contract in 2011, Connolly had 13 goals and 23 assists in 70 games during his first season.  Matters quickly deteriorated for the former fifth overall draft pick as he was sent down to the Marlies at the beginning of this campaign after clearing waivers.

However, despite Connolly’s career being littered by inconsistency and injuries, he does have the talent and ability to dominate games.  The hope is that someone will be convinced to take him as part of any potential trade, although he is in the final year of his contract and set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

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Maple Leafs considering Jamie McBain: Latest NHL Trade Deadline Rumours

Jamie McBain Carolina Hurricanes

With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, we can expect a flurry of activity between now and 3:00pm ET.  And while there is no sense of urgency on the part of the Leafs, they would still like to add some experience if possible.

In particular, Dave Nonis would like to upgrade the blue line and has been linked to the likes of Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Yandle during the last few days.  However, with Bouwmeester now in St Louis and any Yandle deal looking increasingly unlikely, the Leafs are considering other options.

One possibility is Jamie McBain, who the Carolina Hurricans are actively shopping.  This is somewhat surprising after McBain led all Hurricans defencemen in points during the 2011-12 season, resulting in a contract extension.

While the potential addition of McBain may not necessarily add the experience Nonis is looking for, it is still an attractive proposition, especially considering the American’s age (25).  He would also come with a salary cap hit of just $1.8 million per year.

UPDATE: On Monday, we reported on how the Leafs had been given permission to talk to the Calgary Flames goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff.  However, latest reports now indicate Kiprusoff has decided to stay in Calgary and will retire at the end of this season.

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Maple Leafs interested in Stephane Robidas: Latest NHL Trade Deadline Rumours

Stephane Robidas of the Dallas Stars

While the Maple Leafs continue to look for an experienced goaltender as insurance for James Reimer in the event of making the playoffs, some experts think they would be better served by upgrading their top four on the blue line.

While one possibile target, Jay Bouwmeester, has gone to the St Louis Blues, the Leafs have also been considering Stephane Robidas. In fact, according to reports, the Leafs had a scout in attendance at Sunday’s Dallas Stars matchup against the L.A. Kings to watch the Canadian defenceman.

At age 36 and with his contract set to expire after next season, Robidas would provide an ideal short-term solution for a Leafs team looking to add some grit to their lineup.  There’s no denying the former Montreal Canadien’s draft pick is the type of player coach Randy Carlyle would love to have on his team.

Obviously the key point is what the Leafs would have to offer in return for the Stars alternate captain.  Potential makeweights in any deal include a third round draft pick and Mike Komisarek, who, after clearing waivers, is currently assigned to the Marlies.

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Maple Leafs given permission to talk to Flames Miikka Kiprusoff

Miikkaa Kiprusoff

As confirmed by several media sources, the Maple Leafs have been given permission to talk to the Calgary Flames Miikka Kiprusoff.  GM Dave Nonis has voiced his preference for some veteran insurance to back up James Reimer with a playoff spot looking likely and the Finnish goaltender apparently fits the bill.

However, the 2007 All-Star recently stated that if he was traded anywhere, he would not report due to family reasons.  As such, it makes sense for the Leafs to speak directly to Kiprusoff to see if the matter is worth pursuing further.

If the 36-year old goaltender does agree to any deal, it could be dependant on getting an extension of around three years in what would likely be his final NHL contract. In terms of compensation, the Flames would be looking for at least a third rounder.

Kiprusoff is slated to start in net for the Flames tonight for ‘the battle of Alberta’ against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Maple Leafs interested in Keith Yandle: Latest trade deadline rumours

Keith Yandle

With 112 goals this season, third-most in the NHL, scoring is not an issue for the Maple Leafs.  However, the same cannot be said on the other side of the puck.  And while a lot of the talk has centered around bringing in a veteran goaltender, adding experience to the blue line would also help.

As such, with the trade deadline fast approaching, the Leafs are considering several options to help bolster their defensive ranks.  As previously reported, one possibility is the Calgary Flames Jay Bouwmeester.

However, another name under consideration for Leafs GM Dave Nonis is Keith Yandle.  At 26, the Coyotes defenceman is just entering his prime and has postseason experience, which could be beneficial to the Leafs in the increasingly likely event that they make the playoffs.

Another plus is that the Coyotes alternate captain is more than capable on the offensive end.  In the last three years, he has averaged just under 48 points per season, including a career-high 59 during the 2010-11 campaign.

Of course the biggest hurdle will be convincing the Coyotes to part with Yandle.  They showed how much they value the 2012 All-Star by signing him to a five-year contract extension in 2011.

Nonis would prefer to move Clarke MacArthur in any potential deal.  However, it may take offering Tyler Bozak at the very least to get the Coyotes to even contemplate parting ways with their talented defenceman.

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