Speculation on the Maple Leafs off-season plans, Evgeni Nabokov’s future, and a possible off-season Oilers trade.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: David Shoalts recently reports the biggest decisions facing Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke will be what to do with his goaltending and how to land the minimum of two top-two forwards the club needs. Shoalts suggested the prize free agent will be goalie Ilya Bryzgalov but there’s no guarantee he’ll be willing to come to Toronto, though he does have a good history with Burke from their days with the Anaheim Ducks, and if the Phoenix Coyotes move to Winnipeg, Bryzgalov might be more inclined to come to Toronto. The free agent market is thin on elite centers, where the best one could be Dallas’ Brad Richards, who could either re-sign with the Stars or sign with the NY Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke could shop for help between the pipes via free agency and then perhaps go the trade route for scoring forwards. Perhaps the best forward beyond Richards is Tomas Fleischmann but it’s expected the Avalanche will re-sign him. If Bryzgalov isn’t available, Tomas Vokoun, Dwayne Roloson and perhaps Evgeni Nabokov could be.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger recently reported the KHL might again be an option for veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov, though the KHL has sworn it won’t sign players under NHL contract, which Nabokov could still be if the NY Islanders suspend him for the remainder of this season and toll his one-year contract toward next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders recent re-signing of Al Montoya leads me to suspect the Islanders might not bother trying to retain Nabokov for next season. While the KHL might be an option for Nabokov it might only be for one season, and if he’s eligible for UFA status this summer I think signing with an NHL team, even for only one season, could be his preference.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently speculated the Oilers could package the LA Kings first round pick (which they received from the Kings in the Dustin Penner trade) along with their own second round pick (which could be 31st overall) to move up into the top ten for a second high-end draft pick this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make the Oilers a team to watch come the first round of this year’s entry draft.