Hitting the Links


    Let’s fight off the Monday blahs with a quick look at what’s happening around the NHL. A quick update on various issues that may impact the Maple Leafs, such as the Phil Kessel contract negotiations, the Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards trade rumors, and what the signing of Wade Dubielewicz may mean to the goaltending situation in Minnesota.

    The Boston Globe is reporting that contract negotations between restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel and the Boston Bruins have remained at a standstill, although both sides are still talking. Burke made a serious overture for Kessel at the Entry Draft in Montreal, and you can bet that he’s keeping a close eye on the situation. If talks continue to stall with the Bruins, we could see Burke swoop back in for a second attempt to swing a deal, except this time with more trade leverage. Kessel is reportedly seeking a payday worthy of an elite player, but the Globe points out that rival GM’s are wary of that asking price because he has yet to prove himself consistently at that high level.

    Following up on the rumors of a potential Chicago-Toronto deal involving Patrick Sharp, the Daily Herald is reporting that the San Jose Sharks are also in hot pursuit of the young, versatile sniper. It’s doubtful that the Sharks would be able to take on Sharp’s $3.9M cap hit, without a blockbuster trade of sorts, involving a lot of moving parts and salary. Considering that both San Jose and Chicago are perilously close to the cap, the possible inclusion of a third team like Toronto to absorb some salary might make some sense. The general belief is that the Hawks’ management is not so much worried about this year’s cap situation as much as next year’s, when their young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews would become vulnerable to offer sheets. Thus, it might make sense for them to either dump salary, or seek equivalent salary but on a one-year term.

    Staying with the Maple Leafs‘ search for an impact top line forward, the New York Post is reporting that financial issues with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, may put former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards and his $7.8M cap hit on the trading block. The Post mentions that the Stars actually cancelled their prospects camp in order to save a few dollars. While it’s unlikely that Burke would be interested in acquiring such a cumbersome contract, there might be some interesting common ground to initiate trade discussions, as Dallas may view Tomas Kaberle as a long-term replacement for the departed Sergei Zubov.

    The Minnesota Star Tribune explains that the signing of free agent goaltender Wade Dubielewicz may mean that the team will aggressively shop their prized young goaltender, Josh Harding, for some more offensive help. The team lost franchise winger Marian Gaborik to free agency, and hopes that newcomer Martin Havlat can pick up much of the scoring slack. After the signing of Swedish free agent Jonas Gustavsson, it’s now unlikely that Burke would seek to ante up for Harding, a goalie that the Leafs had been linked to for several months.

    Lastly, a group of Leafs fans are petitioning for the Maple Leafs to change their primary logo and uniform design by incorporating the team’s current alternate logo into the main design. To learn more about their cause, feel free to visit their website or Facebook group.

    Update: The Toronto Maple Leafs have released their full pre-season schedule:

    Wed. September 16 vs. Boston Air Canada Centre 7 p.m.
    Thurs. September 17 at Philadelphia John Labatt Centre (London, ON) 7 p.m.
    Fri. September 18 at Pittsburgh Mellon Arena 7:30 p.m.
    Sat. September 19 vs. Philadelphia Air Canada Centre 7 p.m.
    Tues. September 22 vs. Pittsburgh Air Canada Centre 7 p.m.
    Wed. September 23 at Buffalo HSBC Arena TBA
    Fri. September 25 at Detroit Joe Louis Arena 7:30 p.m.
    Sat. September 26 vs. Detroit Air Canada Centre 7 p.m.
    Sun. September 27 vs. Buffalo Air Canada Centre 7 p.m.

    Always a pleasure,

    Alex Tran