A look at possible off-season trade candidates for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus the latest on San Jose Sharks’ center Joe Thornton.
Which Leafs could be on the trade block?
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: With the Toronto Maple Leafs officially eliminated from playoff contention this season, James Mirtle lists the players who could be dealt and those worth building around. He speculates the Leafs could try shipping out Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul, which could $16.5 million from their books, minus whatever contract they take back in return. Mirtle also suggests moving Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Jonathan Bernier for the right price. His suggested list of new core players to build around includes “Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, Richard Panik, Peter Holland, William Nylander and the 2015 first-round pick(s).” The veteran presence (for now) would consist of Roman Polak, Leo Komarov, James Reimer and Stephane Robidas. Mirtle also suggests David Booth and Troy Brodie could be affordable re-signings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize some of my readers are getting tired of seeing so much speculation about the Maple Leafs. Fact is, they’re going to be the dominant topic of media and blogger rumor chatter for months, so we should all hunker down and accept the inevitable bombardment.
Thornton and Wilson downplay their recent spat.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson insists his recent drama with Joe Thornton, claiming his former captain isn’t going anywhere. Following Wilson’s remarks to a group of season-ticket holders regarding why Thornton was stripped of the captaincy, Thornton told a reporter Wilson needed to stop lying and shut his mouth. Wilson claims he spoke with Thornton soon afterward and the issue was resolved claiming it was a simple misunderstanding. The Sharks GM praised Thornton and added he wouldn’t ask the center to waive his no-movement clause.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: David Pollak reports Thornton was unwilling to talk about the situation.
ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside believes the public rift between Thornton and Wilson means ownership could be forced to cut ties with one of them, especially with the Sharks on the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03. Burnside notes there was talk last summer Sharks management wanted Thornton and Patrick Marleau to waive their no-movement clauses but the duo refused. Given the toxic atmosphere between the two, Burnside doesn’t see how the club can improve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Leafs, expect the Sharks to figure prominently in this summer’s rumor mill. Wilson and Thornton can downplay this all they want, but it won’t stop speculation over their respective futures with the Sharks. If they miss the playoffs the calls for change from San Jose fans and media will grow. As I noted in a recent THN.com column, something’s gotta give.