Latest on the Maple Leafs, Jets and Wild – April 9, 2012.

A look at which Leafs might not return next season, what changes need to be made for the Jets, while the pressure’s on for Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.

Has Luke Schenn played his final game as a Maple Leaf?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan looks at which players could return for the Maple Leafs next season, and which ones might not. Koshan suggests defenseman Luke Schenn could be gone if the Leafs revisit a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers involving James van Riemsdyk, as some experts believe it could still happen. Carl Gunnarson’s $1.325 million cap hit could make him attractive on the trade market. Free agents Jonas Gustavsson and Jay Rosehill aren’t expected back, while Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur shouldn’t feel safe.

TORONTO STAR: Bob Mitchell recently wondered if energetic checking forward Joey Crabb, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will return with the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs shop Schenn, they should see if they can find a healthier return than van Riemsdyk, preferably a first line center, though Schenn on his own might not be enough to land one. Gunnarson could indeed be of interest to rivals seeking affordable blueline depth. I doubt there would be much interest in Kulemin, but Bozak and MacArthur might have some trade value. Crabb could be an affordable re-signing, provided he wants to return to the Leafs.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe believes the Jets are definitely in need of change, starting with deciding which of their UFAs (goalie Chris Mason, defencemen Randy Jones and Mark Flood and forwards Jim Slater, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood and Tim Stapleton) to re-sign. Forward Eric Fehr is not expected to be re-signed. Wiebe also reports of “a theory” RFA winger Evander Kane would prefer to play in a bigger market like Los Angeles or New York, but he doesn’t buy into it and doesn’t see a trade in the offing. Wiebe doubts the Jets will be bidders for top potential UFAs like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, but wouldn’t be surprised if the club dealt for a top-six forward, like a big center or right wing. Wiebe also doubts Winnipeg’s small market and location will be a turn-off for unrestricted free agents, citing the atmosphere at the club’s home games as a possible enticement.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Ed Tait reports none of the Jets pending restricted and unrestricted free agents want to leave Winnipeg, citing as one reason the phenomenal fan support they received this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets won’t re-sign everybody, though it’s a safe bet RFAs like Kane and Ondrej Pavelec certainly will return. Of their UFAs, Wellwood,  Slater and Glass stand the best chances of returning, depending of course upon their salary demands. Kane is only 20, and has made steady improvement with each passing season. His best years have yet to come, and unless Kane demands a trade, Jets management would be foolish to move him. I also don’t believe the Jets will be getting into the bidding wars for this summer’s top UFAs, but they will make a couple of signings, likely to bolster their checking lines. It’s also possible they could make a trade for an additional scoring forward. I don’t believe management will be as modest in their moves this summer as they were last year.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports the pressure’s on this summer for Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to improve his club following another disappointing season. The development of their prospects offers some hope for next season. Russo also believes Fletcher has to lure a top player to Minnesota like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, something he’s been unable to do so far as Wild GM.

TWINCITIES.COM: Ben Goessling offers up a more optimistic view, reporting the Wild will have a “slew of prospects – most notably 2010 first-round draft pick Mikael Granlund” expected to join the roster next season, they’ll also have another lottery draft pick, plus the available cap space to bid aggressively for UFAs like Parise and Suter. Other possible UFA targets could include Alexander Semin, Dustin Penner, Matt Carle or Bryan Allen. “There’s plenty of optimism inside the team’s offices, so much so that general manager Chuck Fletcher soon could receive a short contract extension, according to a person familiar with the team’s thinking”, writes Goessling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s depth in skilled prospects was why Fletcher was unwilling to trade one or more of them – especially Granlund – this season to bolster his injury-ravaged team. The rash of injuries played a huge role in the Wild’s second-half swoon, but they need to have the depth to cover off for those situations, which Fletcher will aggressively seek this summer. The Wild are thought to have “the inside track” for Parise, who was born and raised in Minnesota, but playing for a Cup contender is also important to him, something the Wild aren’t anywhere close to being at this time. Fletcher will have his hands full trying to outbid teams like the Detroit Red Wings or NY Rangers this summer for Parise or Suter, and might have to look elsewhere for depth if he comes up short.

10 Comments

  1. Dear Lyle,

    Although this is unrelated to todays topic. I’m curious whether St.Louis or Calgary would have interest in trying to acquire either Sven Bartschi or Ty Rattie. Both have been feeding off each other all season and they lead the WHL playoff scoring race.Anyway I know its a bold move for either team, however if it were to occur I’m just wondering what you figure it would take to pry one from the other.

    Thanks

  2. While one shouldn’t rule anything out, I don’t think there’s a desire by either club to make such a move.

  3. @Bosky

    I was thinking that earlier, then I remembered that they’re older guys playing the WHL; so God knows if they’ll be able to do that.

    You guys remember the Lombardi-Nash line from team Canada (the players who don’t go to the playoffs or get kicked first round)
    Always wondered why they didn’t get those two together earlier (when Lombo wasn’t overpaid and rated).

  4. @ Lyle and MioKid

    Thanks for your insight Lyle. Also for your input MioKid. I forgot about Nash and Lombardi. Though that was sometime ago. Not that I would expect immediate success if Rattie and Bartschi were playing together in the NHL someday,still the notion is an interesting one.

  5. Have to love wishful thinking.

    Schenn for 1st line center. I like how you noted it’ll probably take more. It WILL take more.

    It’s funny that every Toronto rumour has them making these deals that are very heavily TO favoured… instead the last time they got a decent name it cost them Tyler Seguin (1st), Jared Knight (2nd) & Dougie Hamilton (1st).

    Minny is strong coming into the near future. They had how many captains at last years world jrs? Only probably in Minny, there are few players that would rather go there than elsewhere.

    Jets are in good condition. This year was suppose to be a full rebuilding year, and they still managed 84 points, the 4th best Canadian team, they still have much more to go, but still, this was an amazing first step. That fan support is legendary… I think it goes to show, the Canadian economy is in better condition than that of the US through any fluctuation, and it really comes down to, if you can add more Canadian, and remove from wastelands in the US… you should!

  6. Only 5 responsed to a Leafs post? That has to be a new record low.

    I myself have been expecting Fletcher to be fired for a while now. So I’m very little surprised he’s engineering another re-build, he obviously has little proficiency in doing such a task.

  7. I won’t let you down ACR…Chris must be on vacation..

    Kulemin had a horrible season, but it could be a one off. But because patience is growing really thin, he could be part of a deal that brings Dustin Brown to the Leafs, or, and I know this is a stretch, so just let me dream out loud, part of a package that brings Staal from the Penguins.
    Bozak stays unless something better comes along at number one, because he is a natural # 2 Centre, and we already have one in Grabo.Imagine if Leafs had traded Bozak when they signed Connolly? Yes, it could all have been much worse (LOL). I think McArthur could stay, but if he would help land a better goalie or number one centre I would part with him. Burke will do all he can ( read..overpay) to keep Joey Crabb. He is one of the few Leafs that fit Burke’s initial criteria, and Carlyle likes him too. I see a big departure of the softies (Connolly, Lombardi), save for the extremely skilled (Kessel, Lupul) now that Carlyle is coach. And here is a prediction for everyone. George Parros in a Leafs uniform this fall. Toronto is renamed “stachville” after Mike Brown and George Parros. Remember, you heard it here first.

  8. Thinking back didn’t Grabo and Kulimen take some time off because of that Russian plane that crashed. Maybe that had something to do with the bad season they had and other Russians. At least in the first half of the season. Maybe Kulimen will bounce back. Schenn I wouldn’t trade him away. Not after you put all those years in. Remember defence takes longer to develope. Take the best centre you can or if the last name ends with berg.

  9. Murph….. as a Kings fan I am interested in hearing what YOU think will get you Brown from us? FYI Kulemin would barely get Lombardi to answer the phone, and we don’t need goaltending or defence. Also keep in mind that Brown is our captain and is always in the top 5 in league leaders for hits, while is a capable 30 goal scorer.

  10. Canadian King….I know it would take more than Kulemin obviously, I am just not sure who and how many. There are other issues behind the scenes. First, Kulemin is a great player, he has had a lousy year ( Russian plane crash, or who knows what else. ) The leafs will only keep a few “soft” highly skilled players up front, which makes him one of the odd men out. The bigger story at least as it appears to me is that Brown could be on his way out of LA. With Richards, and now Carter on the scene, it looks like they are going for an identity change, and Brown and Richards could soon be butting heads, Captain or not. Brown is a player Burke, Carlyle and Leaf fans would covet. To answer your question, probably add a high level prospect or pick.