Big Swede, big interest

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

BOSTON -- Leaving the Maple Leafs might not mean leaving the land of the maple leaf for Mats Sundin.

Amid a fresh set of rumours that a managerial change within the Leafs could see Sundin convinced to change his mind about becoming a rental player in the spring, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames each had two scouts in Toronto on Tuesday for the Leafs' game against Carolina. The Canucks were not in TD Banknorth Gardens last night, but Flames general manager Darryl Sutter was assigned a press box seat.

Vancouver's stepped-up presence is the more intriguing of the two. The Canucks have a number of picks and prospects, they've been looking for a way to re-ignite one of their own Swedish stars in Markus Naslund and they need to show players such as all-star Roberto Luongo that they're serious about a Stanley Cup drive. With the Sedin twins on the first line with Taylor Pyatt, Naslund has been playing with the likes of Alex Burrows.

Two big "ifs" are holding back any Sundin deal: His reluctance thus far to waive his no-trade contract, and the price-tag that teams are willing to pay the Leafs for his short-term service. It's believed clubs such as the Canucks would be more open to a trade if Sundin committed to play for his new team beyond the spring and at least through 2008-09.

Toronto, looking to fast-track rebuilding as the Philadelphia Flyers did, would be very interested in Vancouver prospects, former first-rounders such as goalie Cory Schneider and big defenceman Luc Bourdon. The Canucks also have their first-round pick.

Sundin would be insurance in case Brendan Morrison's wrist surgery hurts his effectiveness.

Calgary is more of a crapshoot, depending on if the Flames want to re-sign Kristian Huselius and/or Daymond Langkow. Alex Tanguay has a no-trade contract, while centre Matthew Lombardi is another interesting name.

One of the names being mentioned in a possible deal with the Flames is left winger Dustin Boyd, who has four goals and six points in 24 games this season.

The NHL trade deadline is still six weeks away, though talk is heating up. Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke said he sympathized with Toronto counterpart John Ferguson, who is getting inundated with calls about an expected Leafs fire sale.

"All the other GMs are throwing garbage at you for deals because they know you're in your last year," Burke told TSN.


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