Latest Maple Leafs and Capitals Rumors – February 23, 2012.

Leafs could be in the market for a goaltender, and the Capitals may be shopping a defenseman. Read on for the details.

TORONTO SUN/TORONTO STAR/THE GLOBE AND MAIL/SPORTSNET: report Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke will explore trade options regarding his goaltending if he can find a deal which helps his struggling club right away. Terry Koshan of the Sun believes Burke will look into the availability of “Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders, Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers, Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild, Anders Lindback of the Nashville Predators and former Leaf Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Colorado Avalanche.”

James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail listed Vancouver’s Cory Schneider, LA’s Jonathan Bernier, St. Louis’ Ben Bishop, Columbus’ Curtis Sanford and San Jose’s Antero Niittymaki, along with Harding and Nabokov, as possibilities. Damien Cox reports there’s no interest in UFA goalie Marty Turco, and no chance the Sabres part with Ryan Miller or the Blues with Jaroslav Halak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have repeatedly said they’re not moving Nabokov, as have the Canucks regarding Schneider. Bernier could be available but he’s never been a starter, and it’s believed the Kings could use him in a package deal to land a scoring forward. Lindback also hasn’t been an NHL starter, and the Predators would likely want a scoring forward in return.  Bishop also hasn’t been an NHL starter, and the Blues would likely want a forward in return. The Avs are only two points out of a playoff berth, so Giguere probably isn’t available. That leaves Harding, Niittymaki and Khabibulin, who also have injury histories (Khabibulin is currently out with a groin strain).  Of those three, Harding might be the best bet, though he hasn’t had much experience as a starter.

Hamrlik on the block?

WASHINGTON POST/WASHINGTON TIMES/CSNWASHINGTON: reports a rumor from claimed the Capitals were shopping defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who would apparently welcome a trade. Hamrlik’s agent, Petr Svoboda, denied his client has requested a trade. The Post’s Katie Carrera speculated a possible fit for Hamrlik could be the St. Louis Blues, who lost some leadership from this lineup with Jamie Langenbrunner sidelined by a foot injury.

WASHINGTON TIMES: Dan Daly believes the Capitals management shouldn’t look at quick fixes and instead consider breaking up the club and rebuilding, which would include moving Alexander Ovechkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt they go to the extreme suggested by Daly, but I’m anticipating GM George McPhee will be a buyer by Monday, looking for something to bolster his club’s playoff hopes, which incredibly are fading in recent weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamrlik is moved at the deadline, but I daresay McPhee will be seeking a player in return, rather than a draft pick. Can’t see the Blues wanting Hamrlik, as they’d probably prefer a forward in return.


  1. Giguere played aweful under Allaire here in Toronto and Burke is thinking of bringing him back? Doubt it.

    Harding isn’t an upgrade over Reimer. They have similar save percentages and GAA’s over there short carears. The only difference is Harding has played 100 NHL games and Reimer has played 60, hardly worth giving anything up for him unless you get him for nothing. Linback is an even worse suggestion with only 32 NHL games and a worse save percentage then Reim’s. It would be doomed to failure throwing another unproven goalie to the wolves under Wilson’s run and gun system.

    The Leafs need a solid NHL goalie with lots of experience. I say either go for broke and try just about anything for a guy like Miller or just stand pat and ride it out with Reimer for the rest of the season. No sence in trading away the farm or taking on extra cap room to get guys like Khabibulin or Nabokov unless you can get them for free (which I doubt).

  2. The panic button is what’ll ruin a GM. Ovechkin just isn’t having fun right now, that’s no reason to trade him. Especially for what you’ll get in return. They talk about the team like they’re in last place. Goodness.

    I say make a minor deal, ie getting Steve Ott and maybe another dressing room guy, and you have a functioning energy squad again. Add some guys to the room to make the team have some fun again. A big defenseman that throws bone crushing hits… a forward that is an agitator.

    Ovechkin can ask Jerome Iginla and Rick Nash how they feel; they have to do so much for their team and end the year with disappointment over and over again. Capitals trade him to a competent GM and suddenly Ovechkin gets 110 points and 60 goals again and they’ll be kicking themselves in the ass wondering what the hell just happened.

    It hurts when you feel like your team should win and it doesn’t… he’s been playing on “a favourite” for years and then when the team doesn’t, he takes most of the fall for it psychologically because he feels like he’s letting everyone down. It’s like you’re playing a game and you keep dying at the same spot and to get to that spot takes a lot of skill… then you start dying earlier in the level because you just want to try that spot over and over again and you start getting bored of the repetitiveness. You end up putting the joystick down because you’re not focusing anymore. Ovechkin wants to compete… he wants to challenge guys on the scoring leaders at least and isn’t getting a chance to do that. He wants to win the Cup in the playoffs… he isn’t getting the chance to do that either. Well Alex the Great has done everything else… what’s left to conquer is the Playoffs and here he is asking to do in the regular season what he’s already done a few times before. Everyone can clearly see he’s unmotivated, and that’s the job of the coach and GM to do… to surround a gr8 player like that with motivation.

    It would be a horrible mistake to trade Ovie. What are you gonna get for him?

  3. This is PRIORITY #1 for leafs brass

    Some scenarios the Leafs should explore is :

    Brayden Holtby ………Washington Capitals

    Richard Bachman….. Dallas Stars

    Scott Clemenson ….. Panthers

    Jonas Enroth …………Buffalo Sabres

    The leafs will have to give up a piece BUT they have no choice!

  4. Honestly, the only goaltenders I would want, seem to be unavailible. I would love to have Schneider, but the Nucks don’t really have any glaring needs that would warrant trading him. Halak isn’t going anywhere. Mike Smith? Doubt the Yotes would move him since they are Making the playoffs this year. Nabakov? I keep hearing the Isle’s want to resign him. Clemmenson? Maybe. Out of the rest suggested, I would rather pick up Turco for free. I think our goaltending will be fine in the long run, but if we have any hope now, we need an upgrade. Reimer can’t stop a beach ball blocker side, and Gus looks magical one minute, and a goat the next. I think in a year or two, these two goalies will become a tandem comparible to Quick and Bernier, but for now they look green, unconfident, and lost.

  5. Aside from the one run to the Stanley Cup with Tampa, Khabibulin’s playoff resume is not that impressive. Nabokov has more playoff experience, but again, publicly admitting you need something doesn’t typically drive down the price.

    Everyone else is a career backup and usually playing behind an iron man goalie – see Harding especially. While Minnesota might want to move Harding, they won’t give him away. And I do find it disingenuous to compare a career starter (Reimer) to career backups (Harding, Lindback, Bernier, for example) who don’t have the ability to accumulate stats the way a starter does.

    Burke has to be careful here because the goalie he picks up (if he does) will be under intense scrutiny as the savior and better perform as such. I think Toronto can make the playoffs since whoever doesn’t win the Southeast is likely not to have enough points to qualify, but one hot streak and who knows…

  6. RE: Ovechkin – who would want that contract. Talk about a cap killer…

    Ovechkin simply needs to mature and accept that his preferred style of play may not be successful in the NHL. It takes a mature superstar to admit that and to adapt accordingly. I don’t see any trade for Ovechkin (he holds a no-movement clause).

    That said, McPhee must be stumped – he loaded up on quality vets at the past few trade deadlines with poor results in the playoffs and now has an awkward team imploding, despite character players like Ward, Chimera and Laich. To me that speaks to turmoil in the room moreso than talent. Do you change that turmoil in-flight by turfing out a guy like Semin or another malcontent regardless of the return or do you insist on full value and further sink your ship?

  7. Brayden Holtby ………Washington Capitals
    Richard Bachman….. Dallas Stars
    Scott Clemenson ….. Panthers
    Jonas Enroth …………Buffalo Sabres

    How many of these young goalies are better than what the Leafs have now in Reimer? How many would be able to step up and become full-time NHL starters? I don’t see the Leafs risking a season on acquiring someone else’s unknown that might not be demonstrably better than their young goalies.

    Clemensen might be the best option if Markstrom proves to be healthy – he’s a vet and could do well to split time with Reimer or Gustavsson, but I don’t think he’s the answer.

    In this case, patience might be prudent – if you think Reimer hasn’t been exposed after surprising the NHL last season. If he has correctable flaws, he should be at least a competent backup.

  8. @Greg
    I’m not saying Harding or Lindback don’t deserve their shot my point was they have little to no experience in comparison to Reimer. Now if Harding had Rask’s GAA, save percentage and promise maybe you give it a shot but as it stands now his stats are no better then Reimers so why bother giving up players in a trade to take a shot at an unproven guy.

    The Leaf’s should just stand pat and do something in the off season. They will just end up trading away picks or prospects for an unproven goalie or an aging rental. Burke has a lot of work to do in the off season but hopefully Wilson’s finished at the end of this season and we can start fresh. Then again if the Leafs make the playoffs, get tossed out 4 straight but start next season with a decent record Burke will grant Wilson a new 3 or 4 year contract so who knows? Very fustrating being a Laugh fan.

  9. Reimer = Raycroft v2.0

  10. I agree with Greg Schuler.
    Aside from Cory Schneider, none of the goalies available are any better or more proven than Reimer.
    In fact, you may be taking a step backwards by getting a guy like Josh Harding and throwing him to the wolves in Toronto behind a defensivly loose team.

    I’d stick it out with Reimer. To me, the problem is that they have been mismanaged by the coaching staff. One guy gets hot, and then they swap him out of the nets… they both struggle. The other guy gets hot, they swap them out again and they both struggle.

    The solution (aside form getting a REAL #1 goalie like Hiller, Luongo, Miller) is to put Reimer in the net and leave him there. that was the decision they made at the beginning of the season. They laid their bed, so now they are goin gto sleep in it.

  11. I can tell you that the last team Mike Gillis would trade Cory Schneider to is Toronto. If he did, he would need to leave town, hopefully not on a rail. I say put Reimer in goal for the duration and live with the results. They can’t be much worse than the last ten games and maybe Reimer gets back to his form of last year. It wouldn’t hurt if the guys in front of him played defence-first in their own end either.
    Once you look past the Leafs’ recent record, it’s pretty clear that the organization is deeper in prospects than it has been for years – check the Marlies roster – and that there’s a darn good coach at the AHL level, Dallas Eakins, who has earned the opportunity to move up to the show.

  12. If the two goalies they have now don’t do the job by years end then get one somehow during the summer. Bringing another goalie in now might just shake up the club in the wrong direction, even worse than right now. Besides, no GM in the right mind would part with a starter or a reliable backup at this point in the season except perhaps Columbus. Apparently Burke has looked at Sanford but he isn’t the answer and Mason would be a huge gamble considering how he has played this year. However he could be had along in the Carter trade(cough, cough) and just might be an option, who knows maybe he just needs a change of scenery like Elliot did.

  13. Moving Semin seems like a good move for the Caps, at least to me. He’s never been much of a playoff scorer, the Caps need some sort of shake up, and with much of the league struggling with scoring I imagine there’s a GM that would be willing to give up a couple decent assets for him despite his playoff history. Seems like the management is at best luke-warm on resigning him this summer anyways, might as well trade him and get something you can use to make the post-season.

  14. While I agree that trading Semin would probably result in the best return for GMGM, the problem is that Semin is carrying the offensive load for the Caps right now. He has the best offensive production over the past thirty days. Now with Ovi hurt, McPhee is really hamstrung since they are only a few points out of the division lead. McPhee has some tough choices to make over the next few days. I don’t envy him. I certainly hope he can shed Hamrlik and Schultz though. I’ve had enough of their defensive miscues this year. Wideman’s name has also come up recently as potential trade since he will be a UFA this summer.

  15. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… strip the “C” off of Ovechkin’s jersey, and snag a proven leader in the offseason. He’s not handling the pressure of being a captain well, and he needs to step down for the sake of the team. His play has gone downhill since he was given the title, and I think he’ll get better when he can just play the game again. Just because you make the most money and are the face of the team (and league) doesn’t mean you’re captain material.

  16. “Harding isn’t an upgrade over Reimer”

    Man. You just can’t talk the crazy out of a Leaf fan. Despite your reference to the almighty stat, Harding is a promising prospect, while Reimer is borderline minor league goalie. Gustavsson is not even borderline. Funny thing, I knew this at the start of the year.

    Someone else said the Leafs are like the Yankees (Durt and I have been over this) – OMFG! Get your head out of your ass. The Yankees have won all those championships (kinda reminds me of some montreal team) – which immediately makes me you Leafs right? All those rings? Totally doesn’t remind me of some other baseball team with a playoff curse.’

    Bishop is a great looking goalie (though I realize you can demolish my argument by referring to the number of games played (?)) – and that is what they need. A legit prospect. Not a marginal starter that gets a victory parade for every save.

  17. Bishop is going to be a good goaltender on a team with a good defensive system. He’s a Giggy/Luongo type who’s going to put up steady numbers simply because he blocks most the net. Any team that can play in front of him will give him good looking numbers.

    Playing behind the Leafs? Not so sure. Playing behind other teams that play well in front of their goalie… he’s going to be good.

    Ah the Leafs, where goaltenders go to die… the last good one yas had was Joseph. Belfour wasn’t bad but he was a bubble goaltender like Luongo, either you score 0-1 or you score 6 on him.

  18. nitti will be the one he should grab. you need a goalie who was #1 for a while if you want to bring them in.

  19. Tux really? Why would you misquote me on an argument we had in the summer? I said the Leafs are as popular in NHL circles as the Yanks are to baseball…MINUS the championships. You didn’t get it then, I don’t expect you to now. Just don’t misquote me.

  20. All these problems will go away once Toronto gets a legitimate NHL team.

  21. Spector…. I’ve never been really good at figuring out good trades and why or why not to do them….. but wouldn’t it make sense if Roman Hamrlik is available for the Leafs to at least think about it? I know he’s a lot older now, but he’s the last D-man that Phaneuf played with where he was actually a good D-man. He seemed to really help Phaneuf, so wouldn’t that be reason enough to consider getting him to inspire Dion to play defense again? It wasn’t a really long time after Hamerlik left that Phaneuf was traded (1 season I think) because he sucks as a d-man now….. he had so much potential…… just a thought…..

  22. What about Tomas Greiss to the Buds? He has little experience but very solid NHL numbers. Has high upside, wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and the Sharks are definitely in the mood to deal.

    I realize the Leafs would want a proven #1, but the truth is that there are none available, at least not that wouldn’t cost too much. I think Greiss would be available for a decent price and is a likely upgrade between the pipes.

  23. I rarely agree with Tux but half do this time.
    Harding is a very underated goalie and i think could shine with a bigger role.
    if the price is right i would take the gamble.

    I disagree reimer is a minor leaguer in that he has shown he can win a game by himself and seems to be fine handling pressure.
    He has not been himself since he got wiped out and missed all that time.
    I think he is a good bounce back guy for next season once he has had a good amount of time off to fully recuperate.

    I also have to wonder about Allaire and his theories about goaltending as both goaltenders seem uncomfortable using that style.
    There has been a lot of critics of Allaire lately and some are of solid respectability.
    I think maybe a cleaning of house with both Wilson/Allaire would be a good direction.

  24. @tuxedoTshirt – Those stat’s you so easily dismiss are the water-mark to which every player is matched. Especially so in the case of a goaltender as they dont possess a two-way game and throw hits. In the spicific case of a netminder when one GM calls to swap his with another GM’s they will reference what they’ve proven, you know? The pudding in which the proof is typically found. The proof is that in their respective careers Raimer has been good on a bad team as a young kid in a super-hockey market. Harding has been a solid backup on a playoff team wthout nearly as much pressure and scrutiny. Raimer is a starter and has been tested as such and held up well, Harding hasnt been given that chance yet.

    And as for potential? The sky’s the limit for BOTH netminders. But at this point it would be insane to give up on Raimer for Harding.

  25. Okay, to be fair, Reimer did get run over this year, and injuries often affect performance more than is understood, but I really don’t believe in him. He looks heinous (admittedly their team D is lacking). But it’s just easier to feel sure about a player when you saw it coming. (Certainly, it is not the easiest position to measure potential. Regardless, Reimer should never have been a starter.)

    @ Tara……..Hamrlik would help I think, but Phaneuf is what he is. He’s a hit-first Dman, and he’s never actually been great in his own end, or off the rush – positionally or battle-wise. Kipper made him look more responsible than he is.

    @ Durt. Old pal, didn’t mean to rub you backwards. I am quoting JT from the other thread, and referring to our conversation. And I got your point – it is fair, but it is just kind of funny. Anyway, your boys look good, outside the crease.
    (How ’bout them Rangers? Anyone see that coming?)

  26. “would be insane to give up on Raimer”

    It would be insane to try to make the playoffs with him in nets.

  27. “It would be insane to try to make the playoffs with im in net”

    Last i checked that’s exctly what’s been happening, And at this writting they are holding onto a playoff spot with a recovering Raimer/Gus tandom. Will that do much if they make the post-season? Weirder stuff has happend. Point is that there isnt anything to prove Harding is an upgrade over Raimer, Nor is their an upgrade available. If Nabokov could be had he’d do we’ll, But that’s wouldnt serve the team in the long run, We arent a cup-contending team at ths point, Nabokov is in his late thirties and to hit on the potential factor again, Raimer has it in abundance…Especiall considering netminder’s historically take year’s to develope.

  28. I totally agree that we need an upgrade in net. Mind you the team was different as was the era but the leafs have always been a team who needs a strong net presence. Think of when we used to make the playoffs (MTL fan insert joke here) and who we had in net: Potvin, Joseph, Belfour these guys were some of the premier stoppers of their time. Some teams backups are better than Reimer is currently…does he have some promise? Clearly, look to last year. Is he a work in progress and could end up being AHL for life? Also possible.

    I like Gustavsson’s story, the guy has been through hell losing his parents, heart problems etc. but he lets in those soft goals. Ask anyone who knows hockey and they say soft goals are something that’s hard to shake. On the flip side he comes up with huge stops then deflects a shot wide into the net for the OT winner!

  29. @ Tux… I’m not a Leafs fan. You can save your “leaf fans should get their heads out of their asses” for someone else.

    I was simply pointing out that any of these backup goalies is a question mark as a starter.. no different than Reimer. There is no reason to believe that Harding, or Bernier, or Greiss, or anyone would fare better in Toronto than Reimer. Bring in a proiven #1 guy (like Cujo or belfour) and it’s a different story.

  30. I never gave much thought to Halak as a possibility for Toronto but it is intriguing, especially when so many writers and posters dismiss it so readily. Everyone talks about what potential Ben Bishop has. So why trade him?

    If Elliot is the go to guy, and their clear # 1,keep him and Bishop. Why not trade Halak to the Leafs, and get another piece that helps your team, like a scoring winger.

    The downside for the Leafs is a 3.75 million cap hit if it does not work.

    The upside? He has played his best hockey in the Eastern Conference. ( Someone needs to do a study on that topic one day). He has played 21 playoff games. Reimer 0. The Monster 0. Halak has played in 174 NHL games. Reimer and Gustavvson combined have played less than 100. I do not see any of the other goalies or prospects being traded before Halak, except maybe Roloson. But thats another post altogether.

  31. @ tux: just saw you were referring to FireWilson.
    My bad.

    But, I still agree that there is no reason to believe any of these backups are an upgrade over Reimer.

    He has, arguably, the most difficult job of any player in the NHL….

  32. @FireWilson – I agree with your sentiment on holding firm if you (the Leafs) believe Reimer is still concussed or needs to correct some minor flaws. If Reimer has been exposed and the league has a book on him (like what happened to Steve Mason and others), then there is every reason to look for another solution (internal or external). However, Reimer has been a starter and accumulates stats as a starter, making it easier to hide the bad game here and there (though not this season). It’s much harder to hide a bad game when you only play/start 20 a year at most, as is the case with the other goalies. It’s also hard to judge whether a backup can become a starter (preparation, mental and physical endurance).

    I’d agree with the thought of just riding out the season with Reimer and Gustavsson rather than an overpay for a temporary fix that may or may not work out.

  33. @Murph – Ben Bishop had a chance to win the backup job in training camp and the Blues went with Elliott instead. And saw enough in Elliott to decide to keep him with a short extension rather than go with Bishop. That’s while Halak was scuffling. Admittedly, the Blues play the sound defensive game that will make a goalie look better than he is, but I don’t think Halak is available. And it is questionable why Bishop is since he won’t get the requisite NHL games in order to keep him from Group VI free agency. When everyone brings up Bishop and his potential, I can’t help but think that perhaps St. Louis might know if he can play or not (his career Save Pct is underwhelming). Yes, I know – Doug Armstrong and all that, but…Bishop is all about potential, but he’ll have to turn that potential into production and be productive and a team that is going to count on him to be a legitimate NHL goaltender better have a back-up plan.

  34. Greg,

    Thanks for the background info and comments. I was just thinking out loud and trying to connect some dots, and it would be fun to see Halak versus Price on a frequent basis.

    It is slim pickings for goalies that teams might be willing to give up, outside of perhaps Duane Roloson and Steve Mason ( who could benefit from a change of scenery). While Turco might be available he is too long out of the gme to be of much help IMO. Watching the last Canada Cup or World Cup of Hockey ( cannot remember what it was called), I did not feel Bernier was any better than Reimer, so unless he got a whole lot better I do not understand all the hype.

  35. @Tux

    Are you warming up to my name yet? This isn’t just about goaltending it’s a much bigger picture. Wilson’s gotta go…

  36. The knock on Reimer I can visibly see; he plays too deep in his nets and his eyes are terrible. Brodeur (his polar opposite in nets) would give him a lot of NHL tips, like wear lighter gear to “feel” the pucks hit you (how many times have I seen him screw his head around after saving a puck), wear a better helmet (whether it’s mask vision or he has actual eye problems, I dont’ know), play the shooter some more.

    Reimer is not a horrible goaltender; he can be trained up to be an NHL starter, but he needs to develop way more confidence back there. Pucks just seem to hit him. He’s not a reflex goaltender like Price or Lehtonen. Is he ever going to be great? No, not unless his eyes got better… few goaltenders I’ve ever seen have trouble tracking the puck like he has trouble.

  37. I don’t think they should trade Ovi because he is a franchise player that you would want to keep. Also, what team would be able to afford a $9M contract in the middle of the season? And if they can they would have to give up a lot, not guaranteeing a playoff position. I’ve noticed that Ovechkin hasn’t been doing as well with the C, so hand it to a veteran player on the team, Give Ovi a great center since Niklas Backström is injured, and the Caps are a Stanley Cup contender again. They should also try to go for Shea Weber in free agency if he’s still available. It would be the best defensive pair, Mike Green and Shea Weber.

  38. burke can have luongo… give us a 1st and keith aulie. then we can trade ballard for a dependable backup for schneider