Plenty of trade-talk fodder

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

In case you thought the Toronto Maple Leafs were the only team with a quality player to dangle in trade talks ahead of the NHL draft congress -- or that the Jaroslav Halak deal stole everyone's thunder -- there is intrigue throughout the league.

New general managers such as Dale Tallon in Florida and Rick Dudley in Atlanta are in change mode, the revived Los Angeles Kings have some money to absorb contracts and clubs such as Carolina -- with a league high 11 draft picks for next weekend -- are all expected to be proactive in Los Angeles and up to July 1.

One league exec believes Tallon is going to conduct a kind of fire sale with Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Rostislav Olesz and just about every one of their top 10 scorers.

Horton's agent Paul Krepelka told the South Florida Sun Sentinel "it would not surprise me at all if he's dealt by the draft."

Horton would not be too much of a drain on another club's finances, with three years to go on a six-year, $24 million deal, with a no-trade clause that is triggered July 1.

He had 57 points last year, overcoming a broken leg.

One club thought to be interested are the Buffalo Sabres (Horton is from just across the water in Welland), with Derek Roy and Tim Connolly possible candidates to be Panthers -- but Tallon is believed to want bigger centres in return.

Others think Tallon will deal with the team he is most familiar with, his old Chicago Blackhawks, who will have a mean Cup hangover in the form of cap issues if they're not careful.

Forwards Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg will be very tempting for teams to try and scoop.

Draft day could still produce a trade involving one or both of the Oilers or Bruins as the 1-2 draft clubs jockey for either junior stars Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin.

SLIM PICKINGS

Not only are the Leafs without a first- or second-round pick and not at the podium until 62nd overall, they only have six picks to work with for now.

Seventeen of the 30 teams have seven or more picks, up to Carolina's 11, including seven in the first four rounds.

Two other rebuilding teams, the Oilers and New York Islanders, have 10 selections.

San Jose has just four, but retains its first rounder at 28th overall.

Boston, which holds the Leafs' first and second choices, will be up four times in the first 45 selections, while Toronto has a third, fourth, two fifths and two sevenths.

Maple Leafs General manager Brian Burke has been sensitive to speculation that he's trying to use Kaberle as bait solely to get a higher pick to silence critics of the Phil Kessel trade, but says his prime motive is to get his idle scouts back into the game in L.A.

The Maple Leafs continue to field calls for their high-scoring defenceman as his summer trade window nears -- but it's possible no team will put a solid offer down right away in case Burke's intends to use it as a comparable to drive up Kaberle's price.

ICE CHIPS

Joe Sakic could be the next 1990s-era star to turn to management. A year after retiring, he tells the Denver Post he is looking at new options and will be talking to Avs GM Greg Sherman after the draft ... Ex-Red Wing Sergei Fedorov could lose two Detroit-area homes, worth about $2.1 million US, because of defaulted loans. Fedorov in turn has been trying to collect a $60-million judgment from a Michigan man he claims swindled him. Fedorov now plays in the KHL ... Forward Jerry D'Amigo, the late-round '09 Leaf draft pick who surprised many at the 2010 world junior tourney for Team USA, is invited back to the country's summer evaluation camp with 44 others to get ready for 2011 in Buffalo.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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