What moves could the Maple Leafs make at center? Are the Panthers planning any significant moves? Could the Senators shop a defenseman? 

If the Oilers won't shop Nail Yakupov, should they instead shop Sam Gagner?

If the Oilers won’t shop Nail Yakupov, should they instead shop Sam Gagner?

SPORTSNET.CA: Jeff Marek and Chris Johnston believe the Maple Leafs will make do with what they have in the short term to deal with the absence of Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak to injuries.  Marek suggests if the losses pile up Nonis should give the Calgary Flames a call and inquire about former Leaf Matt Stajan, though he’d be difficult to fit into the Leafs limited cap space…Mark Spector believes the Oilers shouldn’t panic but advocates quietly working on “acquiring a top-pairing D-man, some size in the second pairing, and changing the mix upfront.” Marek points out it takes quality to get quality, believing they must move one of their young players to show the others how serious their situation is. He suggests Nail Yakupov or Sam Gagner would fetch good returns. He also suggested shopping their first and second round picks for next season….The Carolina Hurricanes early struggles could put coach Kirk Muller on the hot seat. Johnston doesn’t believe the Staal brothers could be shopped, but pointed out Jeff Skinner’s name was floating around the trade market before his upper body injury…Spector claims ten GMs are keeping tabs on Calgary Flames winger Mike Cammalleri.  He believes the Flames could move pending UFAs Cammalleri and Matt Stajan, but believes Dennis Wideman and his $5.25 million per season contract is unmoveable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stajan’s $3.5 million cap hit would be a tight squeeze for the Leafs, plus he has a modified no-trade clause and might not be keen to return to Toronto.  Some Leafs fans will suggest offering up John-Michael Liles ($3.875 million per) to the Flames for Stajan, but the latter’s salary would still be a tight fit for the Leafs, especially when Bozak and Bolland return later in the season. Not saying it’s impossible, just difficult to fit within their cap space.

I still believe Yakupov is the best trade bait the Oilers have. Ales Hemsky won’t land what they need.  I understand the Oilers reluctance to move Yakupov, but he’s the only guy they can afford to move. Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner are all under long-term contracts, while Yakupov is in the second year of his entry-level deal.  Trading Gagner isn’t a solution as it weakens them at center. Package Yakupov with a first round pick and see if it can land a top-two defenseman. It takes quality to get quality. Otherwise, the Oilers are going to be in contention for the first overall pick again, which is cold comfort to their fans, who are growing impatient waiting for any sign of real improvement by this team.

If the Hurricanes try to shake things up, they won’t move either of the Staals to do it.  Skinner has considerable talent but also a growing injury history…I believe Cammalleri will be moved by the trade deadline. Stajan and perhaps Lee Stempniak could also be moved.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER):  Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon appeared on Prime Time Sports to talk about his club’s disappointing performance thus far. Tallon acknowledged his roster still needs work, but said it’ll take time to get those via development from within, free agency next summer or via “astute trades”. He also pointed out limited cap space among a number of teams around the league is affecting the trade market. Tallon also admitted the inquiries he’s currently getting are from clubs trying to pry away his good young players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon’s not going to panic, but at the same time, this team needs help. It sounds as though he’s willing to take the hit now and look for improvement in the off-season. I daresay if the Panthers are out of playoff contention near the March 5 trade deadline, a fire sale of veterans will begin.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators, currently carrying eight defensemen, could move one of those blueliners. He cited a league executive claiming “eight-to-10 teams” are seeking defensemen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Right off the bat, forget about the Senators moving Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Chris Phillips or Marc Methot. That leaves Patrick Wiercioch, Joe Corvo, Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki.