The Toronto Maple Leafs are shopping for help at forward, the NY Rangers could be interested in Edmonton Oilers winger Nail Yakupov, and more.
TSN.CA: Darren Dreger reports Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis is searching for a forward “preferably a center” to fill the void left by injured centers Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak. Dreger noted while talks are increasing, the market for quality centers is “sketchy”, with the expected return usually “a young roster player, top prospect and a draft pick.” He speculates Nonis could use his blueline depth or parts with draft picks in a lesser deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Dreger noted, there’s no sense of panic from the Leafs, a luxury a 10-5-0 start gives them. If they want to land a quality center they could shop goalie James Reimer. Let’s face it, no matter how well Reimer plays, Jonathan Bernier is considered the de facto starter. There are teams (hello there, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators) who’d jump at the chance to get Reimer. I believe, however, it would take a true first-line center for Nonis to consider moving Reimer. Nonis would love to move John-Michael Liles, but he’d probably have to pick up part of his $3.875 million per season contract to make it work. Don’t be surprised if Jake Gardiner’s name resurfaces in the rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Oilers president of hockey ops Kevin Lowe, GM Craig MacTavish and special advisor Mark Messier took in the Anaheim Ducks-NY Rangers game at MSG last night. Brooks claims the Oilers are “believed accepting offers for veteran winger Ales Hemsky while “exploring the market” for sophomore winger Nail Yakupov. He also points out the Rangers would have to maneuver to get under the cap if they’re interest in Hemsky, who’s making $5 million this season. It remains to be seen if the Rangers would be willing to part with the necessary assets for Yakupov. Their interest in him could be influenced by the condition of winger Rick Nash, who remains sidelined by a concussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Yakupov’s name first appeared in the rumor mill midway through last month most insiders claimed the Oilers would be patient with him. That’s before the Oilers sunk to 3-10-2 in their first 15 games, putting them on the verge of falling completely out of playoff contention by the end of November. I think the Rangers have more interest in Yakupov than Hemsky, who has his own injury history, but of the two, the Oilers are more willing to part with Hemsky. Still, if the Rangers were to offer up Dan Girardi or Marc Staal for Yakupov, the Oilers (in need of an experienced top-pairing defenseman) could be seriously tempted.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis wonders if the Oilers could put in a claim for winger Rostislav Olesz, who was placed on waivers yesterday by the New Jersey Devils. Willis notes the Oilers need help on their checking lines.