Antropov ignores constant rumours

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

If Nik Antropov ended up being traded to every city he has been linked to via the rumour mill over his career, he would have 30 different NHL jerseys with his name on the back dangling in his closet.

"I lost count of how many times I've been asked about (being dealt)," said the lanky Kazakh, whose stock continues to rise after scoring the winning goal in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. "If you put all nine years together, it probably would be at least 1,000."

Antropov knows that total likely will be boosted significantly in the coming days.

With defenceman Tomas Kaberle insisting he is not going anywhere, echoing the same sentiments as the other four members of the Maple Leafs "no-trade clause" fraternity, Antropov might very well be the most legitimate candidate to be moved by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

In the prime of his career at age 28, Antropov's value never has been higher. He's managed to stickhandle his way around the injury bug for a change while reaching a career-high 21 goals, attractive traits for teams in the market for a hulking power forward.

Signed to a two-year, $4.1- million US deal last summer, Antropov is one of the few relative bargains on the Leafs and is not naive enough to think he is scott free from the prospect of being moved.

"You can't control those things," he said. "What's the point? Obviously I want to stay here but that is not my call to make."

It is quite ironic that Antropov might be a wanted man in the coming days.

For much of his career he heard boos from the home fans, who often wanted him shipped out of town. Now, in his career season, will it finally happen?

Antropov is not about to speculate about such a prospect. He is just glad that he has spent most of the season on the ice instead of the trainers room.

As for his team, Antropov said the players inside the dressing room are not throwing in the towel, even though many fans may have given up on the Leafs.

"There are no quitters here," he said after the Leafs had posted their second consecutive victory. "There is no place for that. We still have 21 games left and we still think we have a shot (at the playoffs)."


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