With the NHL Draft a little over two weeks away, Darren and I have decided to roll up our sleeves and put together some draft-related goodies for fans to mull over.
While we haven't formally discussed the form that these posts will take, you can expect to see some draft analysis using past draft results, some prospect info on guys who fall within the Leafs' draft slots, and likely a considerable amount of roster-bation.
With that out of the way, today we want to focus on assets that may be available on Draft day. While we're not in the rumour-making business, there's no harm in connecting the dots on some of the offseason scuttlebutt.
Probably the name most often linked with the Toronto Maple Leafs is that of Canucks' goaltender, Roberto Luongo. Given the Leafs' need in net, Nonis' comments that the team is hoping to find a veteran goalie to insulate Reimer/Scrivens, and Luongo's trade request (or whatever Gillis is calling it this week), it's unsurprising that Luongo would be linked to Toronto. His decade-long contract, which was league-approved, has the kind of declining value that Burke has spoken out against in the past but the fact that it has already been approved by the league may give him the excuse he needs to justify it as somehow beyond the purview of his prior objections.
Whether you believe Rick Nash's version of events or Scott Howson's, there's little doubt that Rick Nash will be plying his trade outside of Ohio to start the 2012-13 season. The rumoured asking price coupled with Nash's astronomical $7.8M cap hit mean that bringing the powerforward to Toronto is likely little more than a pipedream. Is it impossible? No, but it would require some significant assets moving out and some cap-shuffling to fit him in.
The Calgary Flames have announced that they want to trim next season's payroll to around $55M but are unwilling to move Jarome Iginla. The Flames already have over $50M committed to 16 roster players for next season which means that one of their big contracts will have to go. With a cap hit of just under $6M over the next two years, Kipper may be the cure for what's been ailing the Leafs since the lockout and he fits Nonis' mould of reliable veteran without violating Burke's principles against contracts that he feels circumvent the cap.
Soon-to-be UFA, Justin Schultz is a blue chip defenseman from the University of Wisconsin. It's looking increasingly likely that the Ducks will be unable to sign him and while teams may be reluctant to part with an asset in order to acquire his rights, with so many teams interested in the promising youngster, such a move may be the leg up needed for the Leafs to convince Schultz to put pen to paper.
Carolina's 1st Round Selection (8th Overall)
John Forslund, play by play broadcaster for the Hurricanes, suggested this week that he would be surprised if the Hurricanes didn't move their first rounder in this year's draft. From the rumoured interest in Parise and Suter to this latest tidbit, it seems like the Hurricanes are intent on being aggressive players this offseason.
Yahoo Sports and the Tennessean have reported that the Nashville Predators intend on severing ties with Alexander Radulov this offseason and will look to trade his negotiating rights. Radulov is an RFA in the NHL and may well return to Russia to play in the KHL next season but don't be surprised to see a few teams looking to add offense inquiring about the talented winger.
With Jonathan Quick coming off a Vezina-calibre regular season and a Conn Smythe-worthy playoffs, it seems likely that Bernier's days in LA are numbered. While I'd be pretty surprised if the Leafs wound up being serious players on Bernier, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him moved on the draft floor.
While there have been some rumours circulating the internet about Staal's availability, it seems most likely that Pittsburgh will; a) see where the cap number comes down after the CBA negotiations, and b) negotiate an extension with Crosby, before anything happens with Staal. I certainly don't anticipate that Staal will move as early as the Draft (if at all).
Talk around Anaheim's big-3 has cooled significantly of late but it wasn't so long ago that rumours of a Ducks' shakeup sent the hearts of Leafs fans aflutter. While I don't see Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf being dealt, moving Bobby Ryan remains a possibility. If Ducks' GM Bob Murray puts Ryan back on the trading block, I expect Burke will be one of his many suitors.