OTTAWA -- As Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher worked the phones deep into the night, hoping to move up from the No. 7 position to perhaps get a better shot at one of the top four defencemen in the 2008 entry draft, one point became very clear.
Bryan McCabe will not be part of any draft-day deal tonight. Or, any trade in the immediate future, for that matter.
McCabe's agent, Ian Pulver, told Sun Media yesterday that his client is not ready to budge off the no-movement clause in his contract, despite an Internet report during the afternoon that the veteran defenceman already had agreed to waive it.
The Leafs, in fact, approached McCabe a week ago asking once again if he might consider freeing himself up for a potential move, suggesting there was interest for him on the open market.
"We continue to hear that the Leafs want to move Bryan McCabe," Pulver said in an e-mail. "Bryan has a no movement clause in his contract that was negotiated with and agreed to by the Leafs. Bryan is not inclined to waive the no-move clause.
"If the Leafs want to move forward without Bryan they should buy out the remaining years on his contract."
According to Fletcher, there will be no buying out of McCabe, who will earn an average of $5.75 million US over the next three seasons.
In other words, we have a stalemate, one which might mean that, barring a change of heart, McCabe could still be a Leaf come training camp in September.
Given Pulver's statement, even Fletcher realizes his hands are tied. "Bryan McCabe is not on the market," he admitted last night.
Fletcher made his first move last night by acquiring tough, veteran winger Jamal Mayers from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for one of their two third-round picks.
Mayers, a 33-year-old Toronto native, had 12 goals and 27 points for the Blues last season.
"Jamal has been in the past two world championships for Team Canada and brings a lot of leadership," Fletcher said. "We are going to have a young team so we feel that is an important ingredient."
BLUE LINE BONANZA
Defencemen Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo all are expected to be among the top six picks at tonight's entry draft, along with forwards Steve Stamkos, and Russian Nikita Filatov.
The Leafs would love to trade up from No. 7 to grab one of the blue liners, with one of Schenn and/or Pietrangelo likely available at No. 5, where the New York Islanders pick.
If the four defencemen are gone by the seventh spot as expected, then Filatov, if available, is a likely candidate. Fletcher is not scared off by the fact there is no transfer deal in place with Russia, believing the kid's statement that he intends to play in North America, either in the NHL or, if need be, the OHL.
Should the aforementioned six players have been selected by the time the Leafs are on the clock, as many mock drafts indicate, the likely decision will be between Boston University forward Colin Wilson and Kitchener Rangers forward Mikkel Boedker of Denmark.
Because of a caveat in the contract of defenceman Pavel Kubina, his no-trade clause is moot starting today through Aug. 15. Fletcher reaffirmed that any deal for Kubina would have to be impressive.
"The Sharks tried to get Pavel at the trade deadline when (Wilson) was in San Jose, so you know he likes him," Fletcher said.
Asked if forward Nik Antropov might be moved, Fletcher replied: "There are no untouchables on this team."
While Fletcher expects to speak with Mats Sundin on Monday, members of the Montreal media were reading between the lines when Canadiens GM Bob Gainey said yesterday that "we need an accomplished forward," indicating a need for centre.