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Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf remains a hot topic for trade rumors.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf remains a hot topic for trade rumors.

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston lists the Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars as five possible trade destinations for Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs trade Phaneuf it’ll be in the offseason and not near the trade deadline, as the market for a high-salaried player like him is better in the summer when teams have more cap space and willingness to spend. He also has a limited no-trade clause which affects where he could go.

Scratch the Kings from that list as they have limited cap space and must re-sign Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Justin Williams this summer and Anze Kopitar (hello there, eight-year deal worth over $10 million per season), and I doubt very much Phaneuf has included the Oilers on his list of preferred trade destinations. The Stars have far too many left-handed shots. The Ducks have the cap space to absorb Phaneuf’s contract but they also have a lot of lefties on their blueline. The Avs desperately need experienced blueline depth, and if they shed Ryan O’Reilly’s salary could have room for Phaneuf. 

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports the Leafs have spoken to Western Conference teams only regarding Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, but nothing is imminent. The Avalanche could be more interested in Phaneuf than Jake Gardiner. It’s believed interest in Kessel, a consistent 30-goal scorer, would skyrocket if the Leafs put him on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Leafs are fielding offers from Western clubs regarding Kessel and Phaneuf. Better to ship them to a different conference and time zones so you don’t have to face them four to six times a year. Still, as McGran notes, this doesn’t mean the Leafs will move them. Factors like their modified no-trade clauses, hefty contracts and trade offers will affect any efforts by the Leafs to move either guy. 

TSN: Darren Dreger discloses his initial list of potential trade bait leading up to the March trade deadline, which includes such notables as Arizona’s Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle, Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly, Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson and New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr. Dreger also examined possible moves by the seven Canadian teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Nothing really earth-shattering in Dreger’s report but it is a good compilation of possible trade candidates and an informative summary of possible moves by the Canadian clubs. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports Montreal Canadiens fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for their club to pry Nail Yakupov or Jordan Eberle away from the Edmonton Oilers by the trade deadline…He expects the Florida Panthers will try to bolster their lineup before the trade deadline…Darren Dreger claims the Boston Bruins still seek a top-nine forward…SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman thinks the Anaheim Ducks could be ready for some “imminent moves”, perhaps involving some of their “middle-salary guys”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers decide to make a move involving one of their good young players it’ll likely happen in the offseason when the market is better…The Panthers need to boost their offense, as Nick Bjugstad and Jimmy Hayes are the only Panthers to reach double digits in goals…With David Pastrnak playing well the Bruins need for a top-line right wing might be diminished. They also have limited cap space so they must be careful about taking on too much salary…The Ducks are among the NHL’s top teams this season. There’s a consensus among pundits they could “go for it” this season and try to bolster their lineup for a Stanley Cup run. 

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis believes it’s time for New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to give up on this season and get a head start on shipping out some veterans like Jaromir Jagr.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Alex Prewitt reports Capitals free agents Braden Holtby, Joel Ward and Mike Green are keen to re-sign with the Capitals.