The latest on the Maple Leafs, Flames and Penguins, plus updates on Daniel Briere and Jonathan Bernier.
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports “rumors persist in Toronto” the Maple Leafs might shop winger Phil Kessel before the trade deadline, as he’s has convinced many up there that he’s neither a leader nor core performer.”
SPORTSNET.CA: cited a report by Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com claiming Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek “gave #Leafs a list of 12 teams he’d accept a trade to but I’m told he’d pretty much accept a trade anywhere.” Komisarek has been a healthy scratch since February 2, and has one year at $4.5 million remaining on his contract. Strickland doubts the Leafs would find many takers if they agreed to pick up part of his salary, suggesting Komisarek could become a compliance (amnesty) buyout this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kessel trade rumors have died down over the past month, coinciding with the Maple Leafs winning six of their last ten games, and Kessel collecting 12 points in 15 games in February. As long as the Maple Leafs remain in playoff contention this season, I don’t believe they’ll try to move Kessel.
As for Komisarek, there’s been nothing further about this in the usually Leafs-mad Toronto media, where a player can’t fart without it becoming front page news. Hopefully we’ll find out more about Komisarek’s reported trade request soon, but I’d be shocked if the Leafs could find any takers for him now. He seems bound for a buyout.
CALGARY SUN: Randy Sportak examined the Flames goaltending options within their system if Miikka Kiprusoff moves on via trade this season or next, or free agency next year.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman wondered if the Calgary Flames might soon get an offer which might make them ask Jay Bouwmeester to waive his no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames were to move Kiprusoff at the trade deadline, they could also take a dip into this summers’ UFA pool for either a starter or an affordable backup. As for Bouwmeester, well, your guess is as good as theirs. The Flames have stubbornly resisted moving their stars to rebuild. They’ll have to fall well out of the playoff race over the next month before management finally wakes up to reality, and even then, that’s not a certainty.
ESPN.COM: cited Sportsnet’s Brian Lawton suggesting the Nashville Predators or Phoenix Coyotes could be very interested in acquiring Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere doesn’t appear keen to waive his movement clause. As long as he doesn’t feel pressured by Flyers management to accept a trade, I don’t believe it matters which clubs have interest in him. If Briere has a say, he won’t be going anywhere.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason suggests the Sabres should check the asking price for LA Kings backup Jonathan Bernier.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gleason observed, the Kings aren’t in any hurry to move Bernier. While the Kings could use some defensive depth, I still believe they’d prefer to keep Bernier around this season should starter Jonathan Quick get hurt or struggle. The Sabres should consider making inquiries this summer, as that’s when I believe the Kings will feel comfortable about moving Bernier.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dave Molinari reports Penguins GM Ray Shero said he’s got nothing imminent brewing on the trade front. Molinari speculates a top-six winger could end up on Shero’s shopping list, or some veteran muscle for their defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if Shero does make a move before the trade deadline, but he’s obviously under no rush or pressure to make a move now.