The Toronto Maple Leafs’ window of opportunity to move defenseman Tomas Kaberle without his permission slides open at the June draft and GM Brian Burke has let the other NHL teams know the blueliner is available.
Burke claimed five teams have made inquiries and he’s already received a couple of offers for the blueliner, which he described as “more than nibbles.”
The Leafs lack a first round pick in this year’s draft and speculation persists Kaberle will be used as bait to land one.
Failing that, it’s believed Burke would accept a top prospect and/or a good young player capable of contributing right away.
This isn’t the first time Burke has entertained offers for Kaberle; he nearly shipped him to Boston during last year’s draft before a disagreement over picks killed the deal. This time, however, it’s believed Burke will definitely move him.
One potential stumbling block is that Kaberle is entering the final year of his contract. But as the June 26 draft nears, teams desperate for veteran blueline depth might be willing to chance it with Kaberle, provided the Leafs allow them to speak with the defenseman’s agent about a possible contract extension first.
Leaf fans shouldn’t expect a pick in the top 10 since teams with those selections likely aren’t willing to move them, even for a talent like Kaberle.
• Contract talks between the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman James Wisniewski appear no closer to a resolution, with the Orange County Register reporting the two sides remain far apart.
Wisniewski, 26, is a restricted free agent coming off a one-year, $2.75-million contract and it’s believed he’s seeking the salary of a No. 2 defenseman, which the Ducks are reluctant to offer.
Ducks GM Bob Murray intends to qualify Wisniewski’s rights and the Register suggests Murray will let this situation play out into the summer, possibly to an arbitration hearing in mid-July.
The paper also didn’t rule out the possibility of Wisniewski being traded if contract talks remain stalled.
• Nicklas Lidstrom’s decision to return to the Detroit Red Wings for another season has many Wings followers breathing a sigh of relief.
His new one-year, $6.2-million “hometown discount” combined with a potential $2-million increase in next season’s salary cap led the Detroit News to suggest the Red Wings will have the cap flexibility to re-sign key free agents like Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves.
A heightened salary cap would certainly help, but with more than $50 million committed to 16 players for next season, the Wings have roughly $8 million remaining (if the cap increases) to re-sign those players. That makes for a tight fit and means the Wings won’t be major players in this summer’s UFA market.
• Significant roster changes may be in the offing for the Carolina Hurricanes as the club looks to make room for affordable, young talent.
Veteran center Rod Brind’Amour suggested he’d like to return and play out the final year of his contract.
Whether the Canes want Brind’Amour back in the lineup or not, they won’t be able to get any relief from his $3.6 million cap hit through a buyout or if Brind’Amour decides to retire. The veteran was more than 35 years old when he signed his current contract, meaning the full value will still count against the salary cap no matter what.
Meanwhile, the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford might consider trading or buying out veteran winger Sergei Samsonov, who has one year at just more than $2.5 million left on his contract.
Rutherford has begun contract talks with pending UFA forward Ray Whitney, while defenseman Anton Babchuk, who spent last season in the Kontinental League, recently met with Rutherford in Raleigh to discuss a potential return.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.