Latest speculation about the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Jets, plus updates on Keith Yandle, Zack Kassian and Chris Stewart

Should the Leafs blow up their roster and move out stars like Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak & James van Riemsdyk?

Should the Leafs blow up their roster and move out stars like Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak & James van Riemsdyk?

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports some teams have informed the Toronto Maple Leafs they’re willing to trade for Phil Kessel, though he notes the Leafs haven’t indicated that Kessel’s available. He also believes there’s interest in Dion Phaneuf…LeBrun claims the Edmonton Oilers have received inquiries about one of their “big three” kids but they aren’t ready to have that discussion…He feels the Buffalo Sabres waited too long to move Chris Stewart because he’s had a brutal year, missing a chance to trade him earlier in the season to Ottawa or Boston. As for Tyler Myers, the Sabres only seem to be toying with that idea… Darren Dreger would be surprised if Zack Kassian finishes the season with the Vancouver Canucks. Though Kassian was linked earlier this season to the Boston Bruins, Dreger doesn’t think there’s a deal to be made…Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims he’d be blown away if defenseman Jeff Petry re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

TSN.CA: Jeff O’Neill believes the Toronto Maple Leafs should trade Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, if for nothing else than to get those contracts off the books. Jamie McLellan believes the Leafs should start the process by moving players like Joffrey Lupul, and he feels goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenseman Morgan Rielly are untouchable, while O’Neill would retain James van Riemsdyk and perhaps Jake Gardiner.

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston cites TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie’s belief Leafs management could have difficulty pulling off a major move before the trade deadline owing to uncertainty over next season’s salary cap because of the free-falling Canadian dollar. Johnston’s colleague Damien Cox believes the Leafs should blow up the roster and rebuild.  Lavoie argues that, while there’s a market for Leafs stars like Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, getting back only draft picks and prospects isn’t a guarantee the club will eventually improve. Lavoie believes winger James van Riemsdyk would attract interest on the trade block but doubts the Leafs move him. Cox admits it’ll take time to move players like Kessel and Phaneuf but feels the Leafs could have an easier time finding interest in players like Franson, Tyler Bozak, Roman Polak and Joffrey Lupul.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding the Leafs, I don’t believe they’ll make any major roster moves leading up to the trade deadline, other than perhaps moving out any UFAs they can’t or won’t re-sign (like perhaps Cody Franson, Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli, depending upon their respective asking prices and if management believes they have long-term futures in Toronto) or maybe someone like James Reimer or Lupul if there’s a market for him. I think they’ll wait until the off-season, when they’ve got a new head coach in place, before considering any major moves involving their stars, as teams have more cap space and willingness to deal. It remains to be seen if stars like Kessel, Phaneuf or JVR are dealt, but those moves certainly won’t happen by the trade deadline.

Why is Pierre LeBrun “hating” on Chris Stewart? Doesn’t he know some commenters on this site believe Stewart is a great trade asset who’ll fetch a first-round pick and a top prospect? LeBrun’s right, Sabres GM Tim Murray should’ve moved Stewart earlier in the season. Stewart will likely be dealt at the trade deadline but not for Murray’s ridiculous asking price, and certainly not for what the Senators or Bruins were willing to offer up earlier in the season.

Jeff Petry’s a goner. I don’t see why he’d want to stick with an continually awful team like the Oilers when he has a great opportunity to land with a much better team via free agency. 

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough examines the factors (return, contract status) which could impact a trade of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, listing Colorado, Detroit, Minnesota and Boston as possible trade destinations…Brough also notes Vancouver Canucks winger Zack Kassian is resolved to the possibility he could be dealt. Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted some teams have inquired about Kassian but wouldn’t say if the winger is going to be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Yandle hits the trade block it’ll likely be this summer, not at the trade deadline, unless the Coyotes get a mind-blowing offer…I think Kassian will be dealt, it’s just a question of which club makes the right offer. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes the Jets should consider trading one of their top-six defensemen (Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart) if they hope to get a good return which helps the club clinch a playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of this bunch I’d say move Enstrom if you can. The Jets played well in his absence and his puck-moving skills and experience would attract interest. Ansar Khan wonders “if a package including a roster player like Jakub Kindl or Joakim Andersson, a mid-level prospect and a second-round pick land them (Detroit Red Wings) someone like Edmonton’s Jeff Petry.”