Five possible Kaberle destinations

The Sharks, Stars, Lightning, Blue Jackets and Kings are all viable destinations for Tomas Kaberle...

The Sharks, Stars, Lightning, Blue Jackets and Kings are all viable destinations for Tomas Kaberle if he's to be dealt from the Maple Leafs by Sunday. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

Who will be first to make a deal? Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke or Vancouver Canucks counterpart Mike Gillis?

Both are dangling veteran defencemen and are desperate to make moves.

It might be mid-August, but trade talk is finally alive and well. Discussions between GMs are heating up again with training camps only a month away.

While Sunday could be D-Day for Leaf Tomas Kaberle with the trade window in his contract closing at midnight, sources say Gillis has been working harder than Burke trying to move Kevin Bieksa.

Yes, somebody should call Gillis to get his usual denial, but there's a good chance Bieksa could be dealt before camp. He might even go before Burke completes his year-long pursuit of unloading Kaberle.

Bieksa became expendable when the Canucks acquired Keith Ballard ($4.2-million cap hit) from the Florida Panthers and signed former Nashville Predator Dan Hamhuis ($4.5 million) off the free-agent market. The club has nine blueliners under contract, so Bieksa figures to be on the way out.

Plenty of teams are looking for defence:

- The San Jose Sharks are looking for help. But Kaberle, 32, who carries a $4.25-million hit, wants to stay in the East. That hasn't stopped talk of Sharks GM Doug Wilson offering prospect D Derek Joslin and a first-round pick. Bieksa and his $3.75-million hit might make more sense. Not sure what to make of whispers that San Jose is willing to trade LW Jamie McGinn or C Logan Couture for Bieksa, but the talk is out there.

- Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk is looking to add a veteran blueliner. He's going to have to do better than C Mike Ribeiro for Kaberle. That just isn't going to work. Ribeiro has been offered to every team in the league.

- The Lightning has been mentioned as a possibility for Kaberle, but Tampa doesn't want to deal LW Ryan Malone. That's likely what Burke would demand in return as he needs an impact player.

- The Columbus Blue Jackets and Kings also want blue-line help.

The next 24 hours could be very interesting.

RUMOURS 'HURT' SAVARD: Boston C Marc Savard told the Ottawa Sun all the trade talk surrounding his name hasn't been easy to deal with after he signed a seven-year, $28-million extension last December. "They hurt me a little bit just because I went to Boston and I helped to build that team back up," Savard said in an interview Friday -- his first public comments since the rumours surfaced. "Since I've been there, I've really tried to work hard with the young guys and being a core player. I was really focused on staying there for the rest of my career. To hear all this stuff this summer bothered me inside more than anything else." Savard expects to return to Boston. "Right now I'm a Bruin and that's the way it is," he said. "(But) it's been tough." It doesn't look like Savard will be headed to Toronto for Kaberle.

THIS N' THAT: Talk is the Kings are back in the hunt for LW Ilya Kovalchuk after an arbitrator rejected his 17-year, $102-milliion contract with the New Jersey Devils. Kovalchuk will have to accept a significantly shorter deal to play in the NHL next season. The Devils are trying to renegotiate a contract that will pass the smell test ... G Antti Niemi, an unrestricted free agent after the cap-strapped Chicago Blackhawks walked away from a $2.75-million arbitration award, is getting interest and is expected to sign before camp. It's believed the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, Philadlephia Flyers and Sharks have interest.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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