Check out the latest on the Leafs, Senators, Rangers, Sabres and Sharks. And if you missed it, check out last night’s rumor update. Enjoy!

 The latest Leafs rumors.

Could the Islanders pursue Phil Kessel?

Could the Islanders pursue Phil Kessel?

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Stephen Lorenzo reports of a rumor suggesting the New York Islanders should pursue Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel to replace currently-sidelined winger Kyle Okposo. Lorenzo doesn’t put much stock into this, citing Kessel’s $8 million per season contract through 2022, his offensive streakiness and conditioning issues.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports the Detroit Red Wings have liked Leafs blueliner Cody Franson since his days in Nashville. While acknowledging Franson would be a good fit with the Wings, Khan notes the Wings won’t overpay for a potential rental player. He also wonder if the Leafs are willing to deal with a division rival.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel to the Islanders is simply too big a move to contemplate during this season. Indeed, I doubt the Isles have serious interest in Kessel. Franson could be a perfect fit with the Wings, provided the asking price isn’t too high and if they feel they have a decent shot of re-signing him. 

Update on the Senators.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes the Senators are sellers this season, though it remains to be seen how many players could be on the move. There’s plenty of interest in Chris Neil but it remains to be seen if GM Bryan Murray wants to move him. David Legwand could be available but he’s got another season at $3 million left on his contract, meaning it might be easier to move him in the offseason. Garrioch suspects Marc Methot will be dealt for a second-round pick if the Senators fail to re-sign him before the March 2 trade deadline. Long-time defenseman Chris Phillips is sidelined and has told Murray he wants to stay. The Senators must decide if they’ll trade or re-sign Erik Condra, and would like to move Colin Greening’s contract.  A buyout of Greening this summer is possible if he’s not dealt by the deadline or the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two guys I see most likely to move are Methot and Legwand. Neil could be dealt but I get the sense Murray wants to keep him. I don’t see a market for Phillips, Condra or Greening. 

Salary cap hampers Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers limited cap space is making it difficult to address their roster needs. They can get cap relief by placing sidelined goalie Henrik Lundqvist on LTIR to add another player, but must free up salary when Lundqvist returns to the lineup at some point next month. The Rangers have no interest in trading Mats Zuccarello, and while placing Lee Stempniak on waivers or demoting him could free up some room, it also weakens their depth at forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have been linked to Arizona’s Antoine Vermette or Martin Hanzal (both earn over $3 million this season), but unless they shed salary I can’t see either guy in a Rangers jersey come deadline day. It’s believed they’re very interested in Leafs forward Mike Santorelli, who has a more affordable salary ($1.5 million), but it could still be tight adding him without shedding some salary. 

Hodgson facing an uncertain future.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason reports Sabres center Cody Hodgson is in limbo with the Sabres. He’s been a frequent healthy scratch of late as his performance has declined this season. The Sabres could trade Hodgson, though it could be difficult finding takers for the remaining four years on his $25.5 million contract. They could also buy him out this summer, though it would be at one-third the cost as he’s under-26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gleason considers Hodgson no better than a second-line center on a bad team and a third- or fourth-liner on a contender. It’s possible, however, he could regain his 20-goal, 40-point form of last season with a change of scenery. He’s not going to be a first liner anywhere, but his performance could improve on a better club. The Sabres are linked to the Jets and Evander Kane, so perhaps there’s a fit there with Hodgson in a package offer for Kane?

No big deadline deal for the Sharks?

CSNBAYAREA.COM: Kevin Kurz doesn’t expect the San Jose Sharks to make a big splash by the trade deadline, though they could do so in the offseason, perhaps by landing a notable UFA or swinging a trade with a cap-strapped club. Pending free-agent winger Tyler Kennedy seems the most likely to be dealt. Goalie Antti Niemi is unlikely to be dealt now as Alex Stalock isn’t ready yet to take over as their starting goalie. They could also ship out pending UFAs Andrew Desjardins, Matt Irwin and Scott Hannan, or pending RFAs James Sheppard and Tye McGinn. Kurz doubts GM Doug Wilson will make a move for a rental player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to GJ Berg for the link. The Sharks are a decent team which should make the playoffs but lack the depth to be a legitimate Cup contender. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren’t going anywhere until either guy agrees to waive their no-trade clauses, which might never happen. So, don’t expect a major move by the trade deadline.