The latest on the Leafs, Blues, Ducks, Canadiens, Penguins, Canucks and more. 

Leafs to undergo “scorched earth policy.”

Is this the final season in Toronto for Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel?

Is this the final season in Toronto for Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel?

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Cathal Kelly reports two sources claim  MLSE have given Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and his associates “a broad mandate from ownership to scorch as much earth as they see fit in order to return the Leafs to contention.” Kelly expects it’ll be a “controlled demolition” beginning with pending UFAs like Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik at the trade deadline. He anticipates Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf will be moved in the off-season. Kelly cites the risks of such a roster teardown, noting it hasn’t worked for the Edmonton Oilers, while the Chicago Blackhawks suffered for several seasons before becoming a Cup contender.

NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough noted the above article and wonders if we’re seeing the last of Phil Kessel in Toronto. He advocates trading Kessel to a contender now for draft picks and prospects, even if it means offsetting his $8 million per season contract by taking back a bad contract or two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe we see a big move involving Kessel at the trade deadline, but I still think the likely moves is shipping out the pending UFAs like Winnik, Santorelli and Cody Franson on deadline day, perhaps even Tyler Bozak, and the big trades (Kessel and Phaneuf) happen in the offseason. One way or another, regardless of when the deals take place, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a significantly different team when they hit the ice in 2015-16.

Rumblings from Pierre LeBrun.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports the Pittsburgh Penguins want to add a forward and defenseman. They’re keeping an eye on Toronto’s Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli. If they can swing it, they’d also like to add a blueliner and have Toronto’s Cody Franson, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry, San Jose’s Scott Hannan and Colorado’s Jan Hejda on their radar…The Winnipeg Jets remain in the market for a top-six or top-nine forward…If other Minnesota Wild forwards fail to step up and replace sidelined Matt Cooke, Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter, GM Chuck Fletcher could be working the phones by the trade deadline…The Montreal Canadiens would like to add a forward and a defenseman before the trade deadline…The St. Louis Blues would, if possible, like to add an affordable, physical depth defenseman, though they’re happy with their blueline depth even with Kevin Shattenkirk currently sidelined by an abdominal injury. They have $5.9 million in cap space to spend if they need it this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While there’s been talk of the Penguins going after bigger-name forwards, they have to keep their salary cap constraints in mind. I think they go for the affordable rental players. Perron seems to be their biggest acquisition for this season… The Jets aren’t done dealing and I could see them having interest in Winnik or Santorelli…The Wild will have some cap relief with Cooke and Zucker on LTIR but they cannot take on much salary beyond this season…Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t afraid to make a significant deal at the deadline, but he won’t make one just for the sake of doing so. It has to help his team. He’s believed very interested in Antoine Vermette of the Coyotes…The Blues have the luxury of making a move if they wish, but it’ll be a rental player if they do. They need cap space for Vladimir Tarasenko’s big raise after this season. 

Latest Canucks options.

SPORTSNET: Damien Cox believes the Vancouver Canucks face four options at the trade deadline. They can either stand pat, seek immediate help (Cox suggests Toronto’s Tyler Bozak or Arizona’s Antoine Vermette to add depth at center though it could prove costly, plus they could use a replacement for the sidelined Kevin Bieksa), or start dumping veterans to load up with more youth for the future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Canucks are in playoff contention I expect GM Jim Benning will try to find a deal to help his club now without sacrificing his future. He was interested in Evander Kane before the Jets dealt him to the Sabres, but wouldn’t part with Bo Horvat or Jake Virtanen. 

Ducks seeking “D”.

NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites a report in the Los Angeles Times in which Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler said his club is still seeking blueline depth. Halford speculates they could be in on Ottawa’s Marc Methot, Toronto’s Cody Franson or Washington’s Mike Green.