Allison tough to trade

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

There's no accounting for the thought processes of some National Hockey League general managers once panic starts to set in.

Because of that, there's some slight hope that the Maple Leafs will be able to unload Jason Allison.

But as long as the GMs stay rational, the Leafs will be stuck with Allison, even though they're trying to unload him.

In fact, the Leafs put together an all on-the-block line at practice yesterday when they sent out Allison with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov.

As a hard worker with some speed, Ponikarovsky has some value. But the other two are perfect examples of the type of player whose attractiveness has diminished in the new NHL.

This is now a speed league. Defenders must now rely on positioning, not interference, and if a forward has the speed to go around a defender, he becomes a valuable commodity.

But both Allison and Antropov are painfully slow. It's not really their fault. Both suffered serious knee injuries while in the NHL and more often than not, a rebuilt knee never is a match for the original.

Furthermore, Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. went over the market on both of them, and in the salary-capped NHL, even the most profligate GMs have to watch their money.

As a result, even though Ferguson is waving his arms and making offers, there are no takers.

Antropov earns "only" a little more than $1 million US, but even so, with the league being what it is, there are more productive players available for less money.

Antropov's skating is so deficient that he couldn't make the grade in the Russian league during the lockout. In the old NHL, he could compensate by using his other skills. But this is the new NHL.

In Allison's case, it's not the salary that creates the biggest problem, it's the cap space.

Because he theoretically could earn $4.5 million if he were to collect all his bonuses -- which he won't -- he takes up $4.5 million of the $39-million salary cap.

What GM would want to assume that liability? Here's a guy who has limited value in today's game because of his lack of speed, but he'd take up more than 11.5% of a team's total cap room.

Toronto being Toronto, the usual rumours have surfaced. Because the Columbus Blue Jackets have been depleted by injuries and because GM Doug MacLean has expressed a desire for a big centre, the buzz is that the Leafs are working out a deal that will send Allison to Columbus.

THROW IT ALL AWAY

The Leafs can work on it all they want. It isn't going to happen. MacLean is steadily building a decent team there -- when it's healthy. He's not going to throw it all away to help the Leafs out of a jam.

There's also the problem of Allison himself. There are very few secrets in the NHL, and everyone knows that Allison approached coach Pat Quinn about increased ice time.

They also know why Allison wasn't getting the ice time he wanted -- because Quinn doesn't feel he deserves it.

Hockey people even know what fans don't -- that Allison took it a step further and went to the GM when he didn't get the answer he wanted from Quinn.

Perhaps he'll approach Larry Tanenbaum next. Why not? He has been known to overrule the GM.

Allison is an introspective person who tends to be hard on himself -- perhaps too hard sometimes. When he's struggling, he becomes self-critical and that sometimes makes matters worse.

Again, because Allison has been around the league a long time, there are no secrets.

As a result, the Leafs can offer him around as much as they want. They'll be hard pressed to find a taker unless panic sets in. And it's a little too early for that.


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