Latest on the Leafs and Canadiens plus more Evander Kane rumors. 

Leafs trade candidates.

Cody Franson's days as a Leaf could be numbered.

Cody Franson’s days as a Leaf could be numbered.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports trade winds are swirling about Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson and forwards Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli. Franson is considered most likely to be dealt, though he expresses his wish to remain a Leaf.  Winnik isn’t sure if he’ll be traded or not, though his UFA status will affect his future in Toronto. The New York Rangers are reportedly interested in Santorelli.

Steve Simmons reports the Leafs management is preparing to blow up the roster. He considers Morgan Rielly and James van Riemsdyk to be untouchable, while Franson, Santorelli, Winnik, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and Roman Polak are for sale. He considers Jonathan Bernier, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner as players the Leafs believe in “sort of”, while Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf likely won’t be moved until the offseason. Free agents Korbinian Holzer and David Booth might also interest other clubs near the trade deadline.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Santorelli could resolve the Rangers need for checking-line depth, but noted they don’t have a lot of cap space or much to offer up as trade bait, though they do have two second-round picks in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Franson, Winnik and Santorelli are all goners by the deadline. The Rangers seem keen on Santorelli but it’ll depend upon the Leafs asking price. A second round pick could do it. I agree with Simmons regarding the untouchables, the “kind of” likes and those who could be moved in the offseason. 

Latest Evander Kane rumors.

NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites a radio interview by Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning, in which he said he would be interested in Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford speculates it could take a package offer with promising prospect Jake Virtanen to land Kane from the Jets. Botchford notes the Canucks aren’t willing to part with Virtanen right now. Kane’s baggage could also affect the Canucks’ interest in the Jets winger.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Tom Gulitti suggests the New Jersey Devils could pursue Evander Kane. Though noting Kane’s reputation as a troublesome player, Gulitti feels he could address their lack of scoring depth at forward. He suggests parting with one of their good young defensemen and an older forward or two to help the Jets now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t going to give Kane away and can afford to wait until this summer to move him, though they will face pressure to get a return which improves their playoff chances this season. If the Canucks want Kane, the Jets could ask for Virtanen as part of the return. I still have my doubts that Lamoriello will acquire Kane, but will acknowledge anything’s possible. I doubt the Jets want another defenseman as they’re deep in that department, unless they ship one out in a separate deal to address another need. 

Could Canadiens make a big deadline splash?

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens are likely to acquire a player “that’s worth talking about” by the March 2 trade deadline. Given GM Marc Bergevin’s previous history of acquiring notable rental players like Thomas Vanek, LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if Bergevin pursued another notable player…TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie claims the Canadiens are among the suitors for Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Bergevin will try to land another forward or a defenseman, but he won’t overpay for them. Look back on his trades as Habs GM, he’s not someone who gives up too much for a short-term fix.