Latest Leafs, Panthers and Sabres Rumors – October 24, 2013.

Updates on Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner and Dmitry Kulikov, plus the latest Sabres speculation.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports there still haven’t been serious contract talks between the Maple Leafs and Dion Phaneuf but neither side seems too bothered. Though acknowledging finding “number and term” could be tricky, Cox expects the Leafs will make an offer to keep him.

Could Jake Gardiner be moved at the trade deadline?

Could Jake Gardiner be moved at the trade deadline?

SPORTSNET.CA: Nick Kypreos believes the play of Leafs rookie defenseman Morgan Reilly could push Jake Gardiner onto the trade block closer to the March 5 trade deadline, though the asking price could be steep.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the early season trade rumors which has swirled around Gardiner have died down. The blueliner is focusing on regaining the form which impressed the Leafs and their fans during the club’s playoff series last spring against Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I predict the Leafs will not only re-sign Phaneuf, but they’ll ink him to pretty much the same annual salary ($6.5 million) he’s making now, which won’t impress their critics. As for Gardiner and Reilly, it’s a long season, which could certainly work in Gardiner’s favor. Then again, if Gardiner does improve but so does Reilly, it could enhance the former’s trade value by deadline day.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM’s Harvey Fialkov reports the following via Twitter: “Kulikov to Leafs trade rumors eminated (sic) from Toronto Sun. So early for these rumors. Panthers are easy target bec of good young players.”

NHL LIVE (VIA KUKLA’S KORNER): TSN insider Darren Dreger reports it appears Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula appears to still be on side with GM Darcy Regier in their rebuilding process. Dreger also claimed the Sabres were telling rival clubs during the summer not to call them about Thomas Vanek or Ryan Miller (both pending UFAs) until “around Christmas” as they wanted time to assess their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Sabres tried to move Vanek and Miller now, they won’t find much of a market because their hefty salaries for this season are very difficult for rival clubs to absorb at this point.  23 teams have cap space of $5 million or less, which doesn’t leave much of a trade market.Sure, the Sabres could agree to absorb part of their salaries, but I think they’d prefer to wait until mid-season and then start gauging the market value of both players.


  1. Vanek to the Wild, it’s just a matter of time.

  2. I like and agree with your prediction Lyle, but surprised the haters havent filled the page with “Dion sucks cant play defence and is only worth 2million…” and comments similar to the ones Phil received when you poked the bear by bringing up his value.

    If Gardiner continues playing and improving the way he has the past 2 games he will bring in a very nice package at the deadline if thats the way the Leafs choose to go…As long as Reilly and Franson continue to grow I hope thats what happens and this team can finally maybe get a center to play with JVR and Kessel. Bozak just looks worse and worse.

    • Hey icky, why the hate for Bozak! Yes he could win a few more faceoffs, but him and Kessel have great chemistry together. Tell me who is available, that can replace him with out giving up Gardiner or Riemer. Also if you bring in someone else problem, no guaranty that Kessel will produce more.

  3. I would agree that there isn’t much of a trade market right now, but as the season progresses I’m sure we’ll see some movement and most likely before the New Year. Right now we are seeing some ? about the goaltending of Edmonton, Philly, LI, Florida and now add Dallas, St. Louis and Anaheim. With regard to Vanek, I still think we will see something from MN Heatly and another player for Vanek with Heatly being a pure money dump. MN is getting restless about Heatly and his production – so I envision another move before the New Year.

    What the Sabres need right now is a player with some leadership capability. Vanek and Ott really have filled the role of captain, mentoring and guiding our youth. With the suspension of Kaleta and the upcoming suspension of Scott – that forces Rolston to play our youngsters. I don’t know what the deal is with Rolston, but I wish the Sabres would make a coaching change as the team looks more confused than ever.

  4. Steve,

    I agree with most of your post but not the part about Heatly. The other player coming back would have to be pretty stellar in order for the Sabres to take on Heatly in the deal. If was eligible to be traded to Buffalo without his consent (not sure what his contract terms are) how long till he asks for a trade? I do not see Heatly coming to the Sabres. He is also a big salary for someone whose point production has been on the decline, and he does not bring any leadership qualities with him as far as I can tell. Why would they want him?

    • To get either Granlund or Coyle – that is my thinking.

  5. I’d sign Phaneuf at the same number (6.5mm) but I would not include a No-Trade/No-Movement Clause. Phaneuf is realistically worth what he makes, but there are obvious holes in his game that everyone chooses to focus on (looking for the big hit and getting himself out of position as a result). I’m not inside the dressing room, but my main question is how he is perceived by his teammates, being the capitain and all. I think the captaincy adds a layer of complexity to this and the scenario would be a lot easier if he were just another player.
    Regarding Gardiner, I see no reason to trade him this year. The kid can skate and handle the puck – he may not be a fantastic defender, but he is so good skating and moving the puck that I think you have to allow time for him to develop the defensive side of the game. Trading him now would be foolish as his stock is at its lowest point and he was fantastic in the playoffs last year against Boston.

    • Agreed on hanging onto Gardiner. Not just because his stock is currently low (which is true), but I don’t get these reports that say: Rielly makes Gardiner expendable, but the Leafs will want a LOT for him.

      Not sure other GMs are willing to give up a lot for a player that has been considered expendable! That logic makes little sense.

      Allow Gardiner time to develop and be an asset coveted by other teams (as opposed to one Leafs want to move to make room for Rielly) and THEN you’d get a lot for him. Trading him now, you’ll get nickels on the dollar, IMO.

      • Besides the first couple or few games he has actually been pretty good not sure what you mean at an all time low last year he sat in the press box or played on the Marlies… Hes averaging around 20 mins a night and is a plus 3.

        • Yeah, “all-time low” isn’t my thinking – just that it’s been much higher – and I think will be higher again. I’m no Leafs fan, but I think he’ll be a very good-to-great dman.

          I just think the summation of Kypreos’ article is where the problem lies: if Rielly makes Gardiner expendable, then Leafs brass shouldn’t expect a king’s ransom for him.

          • Agreed I don’t see a point in moving Gardiner at this point in time. Unless a team is willing to blow to doors off I. A deal like say that would bring in a legit big offensive centre…. But a year or two from now they will need to make some moves…. I’d move gunnerson, he’s just not physical enough nor offensive enough and the need on d IMO is a shut down d man that can skate better then fraser.

  6. Regarding a coaching change for the Sabres, I think its coming real soon. Rolston is way over his head. Regeir will throw another one under the bus before it hits him.

    I would love to see Craig Ramsay have a shot at Head Coach. He has credibility, NHL experience as a player and assistant coach.

    • Well I agree something has to give. I am totally baffled as to what is plaguing the Sabres. They are just totally lifeless out there. The defensive zone coverage is abhorant, and there offensive zone play is even worse than that. But the lack of effort and emotion after this horrendous start is the most perplexing part. Coaching is the easiest thing to blame, but how did all these guys suddenly forget how to play?

    • Should have kept Lindy and fired the GM. Rolston was not ready for any of this. The Sabers are an organization that can’t seem to make up their minds as to what they are trying to do with this team. At least Lindy provided some kind of leadership and stability. Fire the GM already.

      • I don’t get why the Sabres extended Rolston for this season – he has been horrible and the team reflects how bad he really is. It bothers me because there are a lot of coaching candidates out there that Sabre Management could have considered – maybe Laviolette, Boucher, Sutter or Maurice will come in and change something up.

  7. It was just announced that Morgan Reilly will be staying up with the Leafs. Could get sent back after 40 games but at the moment the blueline is still crowded…

  8. Taking a quick look at the leafs current defense corps, I don’t think that moving anyone out at this point

    When Fraser comes back, Reilly and Ranger will probably alternate games based on who they are playing, but I see Carlyle using Ranger more based on what style he plays. This means that we are pretty much set in terms of defensive pairings.

    Obviously, everyone would love if we moved JML, but I don’t think we need to worry about that until later when then injuries really start to pile up. He will be paired with someone else, and sent on their way.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if islanders were willing to talk about Liles… Visnovsky is now out with a concussion and depending how long they could use a good veteran puck mover… Liles can still play in the nhl just not carlyles system at his current price

  9. Sabres first game of 2014 is their 41st which means at that point Miller costs about $1.575M (assume 50% retained) and Vanek would cost about $1.8M (assume 50% retained) to acquiring clubs. Their costs will go down from there through the deadline.