Are the Jets planning any significant off-season moves? Can Leafs GM Brian Burke pull off the trades needed to improve his team? Is Brenden Morrow’s future with the Stars in doubt?
WINNIPEG SUN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is both optimistic and realistic over his team’s future, acknowledging there is room for improvement in many areas, including more size to the roster. Cheveldayoff said he’s spoken with the agents for several of his free agents but there’s been no exchange of proposals or numbers yet. He maintains the club will stick to their goal of long-term development, but wouldn’t rule out moves which could improve his team for next season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Tim Campbell recently reported Cheveldayoff is open to trading his first round pick (ninth overall) for the right price, but won’t just give it away or make a deal for the sake of doing so, nor will he sacrifice the club’s future.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes Cheveldayoff will face his first real test as general manager this summer, as he’ll be expected to do more than just make minor moves as he did last summer and this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only way I see the Jets trading their first round pick is if they get a young, top-six forward in return. Otherwise, they’ll retain it. I do expect Cheveldayoff will look at adding a top-six forward this summer, but otherwise won’t make any huge signings or trades. I could see him pursuing P.A Parenteau, Jiri Hudler, Andrei Kostitsyn or David Jones if they hit the open market.
TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger wonders how Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke will land a legitimate NHL starting goalie, especially if he’s unwilling to trade his first round pick (fifth overall) as part of a deal. Zeisberger noted Jonathan Bernier of the Kings and Anders Lindback of the Predators keep being mentioned, but pointed out they lack starter experience at the NHL level. He wondered if the St. Louis Blues could be convinced to part with Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott, and doubted the Vancouver Canucks would deal with the Leafs because of the current testy relationship between the management of both teams.
Steve Buffery believes Burke has little to use as trade bait to address his team’s needs. If Burke keeps Phil Kessel, he won’t trade linemate Joffrey Lupul. Defenseman Jake Gardiner is the club’s best commodity going forward, Burke still highly values Dion Phaneuf, and won’t trade his first round pick. Buffery finds rumors of Burke pursuing Columbus winger Rick Nash laughable, as the asking price would involve at least two of their best players, a first round pick, and a prized prospect to get him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, the best trade chip Burke has is defenseman Luke Schenn, and on his own, he won’t land Nash, or a first line center, or a top starting goaltender. Burke is up against it this summer, and it will be the biggest test of his management skills to address the Leafs needs without gutting depth elsewhere.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the Stars are at a crossroads with team captain Brenden Morrow, who was the subject of trade rumors this season while struggling through an injury-hampered season. Kevin Sherrington meanwhile believes the Stars run the risk of Morrow’s trade value declining if they retain him, but also suggested if they do trade him, they’ll need to make a big splash via free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrow is now 33, and was hampered by neck and back injuries this season, which could adversely affect his trade value this summer. He also has one year remaining on his current contract at $4.1 million, and holds a “no-trade” clause. Still, Morrow remains well-respected around the league, and if the Stars asking price wasn’t expensive, it’s possible there could be interest in him from teams seeking leadership and depth at forward, provided he’s willing to accept a trade.