Trade winds starting to blow

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

As a blowout loss to the Ottawa Senators mounted to 8-2, Hockey Night In Canada kept cutting to a grim-faced John Ferguson in the pressbox.

The Maple Leafs general manager wasn't reaching for the phone to make a trade or call-up in advance of tonight's midnight National Hockey League holiday roster freeze, but that can change.

A fourth injury, this time a suspected dislocated thumb to top-line right winger Alex Steen, and a Leafs team that has lost four of six games, is making the GM restless.

Steen seemed to hurt the thumb trying to break a face-first fall to the ice in a collision with a teammate yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena. The thumb looked badly bent as he exited the ice for the doctor's office and he's listed as day-to-day.

"This particular development may prompt a look (at a call-up)," said Ferguson, who already has forwards Eric Lindros and Tie Domi on injured reserve and Nik Antropov on the shelf, too. "We've got four games in six nights wrapped around Christmas Eve and Christmas, so it's a heavy stretch."

He was his customary evasive self when speaking of a potential trade, calling it "a fool's game" to try and project NHL deals in advance of midnight. Yet in Toronto's case, a new player arriving today would get to play four extra games between the start of the freeze and its conclusion at midnight Dec. 27.

"There's lots of discussion and if there's a mutual fit, you could see something," Ferguson said. "It's not my expectation (the Leafs will deal), but we have room on the roster with guys on the IR."

MARLIES INTACT

The decision not to pull any Marlies forward of note out of yesterday's 4-2 win against the Hamilton Bulldogs -- John Pohl is the best bet -- could signal that Steen is fine. Any Marlies regular who plays tonight for the Leafs would be winded by five games in six nights. Pohl had a team high 17 goals and was seventh in American Hockey League points with 31 before yesterday.

Lindros is still without the special brace for his right wrist, which is on order from a Texas medical supplier, but Ferguson said the brace was moot until the player's strength and mobility return. Domi has a right shoulder strain and both worked out after the main group at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday, while Antropov (knee) was with strength coach Matt Nichol.


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