Trade talk heats up for blue-line help

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

TAMPA -- Alexander Khavanov has a simple way of telling exactly when he'll be able to return to the Maple Leafs lineup.

"When my foot is able to fit back into my skate, I'll be ready to go," the injured defenceman, still hobbled after being nailed by a shot against the Florida Panthers, said yesterday.

Judging by the fact that he was limping around the Leafs dressing room with a soft cast on his left foot last night, it could be a while before he can squeeze into a skate boot.

Khavanov received a number of different reports concerning his foot yesterday, including one suggesting there is a slight fracture and another stating it is broken.

"There is no displacement but there could be a crack," coach Pat Quinn said. "It's right on the ball. The (photos) were fuzzy, but there was enough there that we want to take another look."

Another day, another Leafs defenceman down.

While Quinn welcomed Bryan McCabe back into the Toronto lineup last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he also had no choice but to ice an inexperienced defence that featured three rookies an Kronwall, Andy Wozniewski and Jay Harrison -- for the third consecutive game.

Sidelined defencemen include Khavanov, Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) and Aki Berg (ribs).

General manager John Ferguson continues to scour the market for potential deals but is shackled by both the salary cap and the growing demand for defencemen around the league.

"If there is a transaction out there that makes sense and furthers our goals, we'll make it," Ferguson said.

Add the Vancouver Canucks to the list of teams hunting for blue-line help. With Ed Jovanovski facing abdominal surgery, the acquisition of a defenceman or two is said to be a priority for general manager Dave Nonis.

Washington Capitals defenceman Brendan Witt, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, was linked to the Leafs months ago, but the Caps will demand a significant return. Witt, who represents himself in negotiations, recently told the Washington Post that he was unaware of any imminent deals.

Anaheim's Keith Carney has been a popular name during previous trade deadlines, but the uncertainty involving Scott Niedermayer's knee could make him an even more valuable commodity for the Mighty Ducks.

A report out of Pittsburgh suggested former Maple Leaf Ric Jackman might like to be dealt, but Toronto might be an unlikely destination when you consider it was Ferguson who traded him to the Penguins in the first place two years ago.

The Leafs, looking for defensive help in return, continue to kick tires to see if there are any takers for Jason Allison.


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