McCabe set to return amid trade talk

Maple Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe addresses the media at the ACC on Monday, April 9, 2007....

Maple Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe addresses the media at the ACC on Monday, April 9, 2007. (Toronto Sun file photo/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Will Bryan McCabe return to the Maple Leafs lineup just in time to be traded?

The healing defenceman chuckled at the notion yesterday, just hours after he was able to shoot a few pucks for the first time since fracturing three bones in his left hand on Dec. 15 in Montreal.

McCabe is a member of the Leafs No-Trade-Clause Fraternity, a group that also includes captain Mats Sundin, forward Darcy Tucker, and defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina. With each day that the Feb. 26 trade deadline creeps closer, all five can expect to be asked over and over again if they, in fact, will waive their respective clauses.

There are many things that McCabe is looking forward to when he rejoins the Leafs. Repeatedly answering that question is not one of them.

"Look, no one (from management) has approached me about (waiving it) yet," McCabe said. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

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"I've said all along I want to be a Toronto Maple Leaf. That's why I signed here."

McCabe's deal, which runs out in the 2010-11 campaign, carries an average salary of $5.75 million US per season, a hefty price that could cause teams to shy away.

McCabe, meanwhile, is focused on taking part in a full practice as early as this week after testing out the hand at the team's morning skate yesterday.

"It went good," he said. "It was the first time I tried to pass and shoot. I put some extra padding in my glove to protect the hand and was able to let a few snap shots go."

McCabe was among eight Leafs -- six regulars -- who were out of the lineup against the provincial rival Ottawa Senators last night. The list of walking wounded is so lengthy these days, Paul Maurice had to pull out a sheet of paper to update the media at his morning press conference.

According to the beleaguered Maple Leafs coach, McCabe and Alex Steen are the closest to returning. Steen's injured shoulder has healed nicely, leaving him with a shot to be back in game action some time this week.

That is not the case with forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and Darryl Boyce, whose respective shoulder injuries were called "significant" by the Leafs coach. Don't expect to see either in the lineup before March.

Mark Bell, who fractured an orbital bone during a fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Ryan Malone, is about six weeks away. John Pohl, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Carolina, could be looking at the same amount of time.

Forward Nik Antropov served the first game of his three-game suspension last night while Chad Kilger remains out due to personal reasons.


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