Leafs looking to Kubina

Pavel Kubina might have a new responsibility with the Maple Leafs if Mats Sundin does not return....

Pavel Kubina might have a new responsibility with the Maple Leafs if Mats Sundin does not return. (Sun Media/Ernest Doroszuk)

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Not only is Pavel Kubina unlikely to be traded, but Cliff Fletcher is talking him up as a possible captain if Mats Sundin departs.

With an Aug. 15 window to shop Kubina rapidly closing, the Maple Leafs' general manager yesterday listed the chance of dealing the $5-million US defenceman as "less than 50%."

"Any trade involving Pavel would have to be very advantageous for the Leafs," Fletcher said. "I thought he played well last season (after an awful start to Kubina's four-year $20-million deal) and I know (new coach) Ron Wilson liked him a lot. Plus, it's very quiet right now for trades."

Wilson was in favour of a deadline deal last February to send Kubina to his San Jose Sharks, which the defenceman vetoed with his no-trade clause, much to Fletcher's chagrin.

When the Leafs missed the playoffs, a clause in Kubina's contract gave them from June 20 to Aug. 15 for a trade. But though teams such as the Los Angeles Kings are looking for veterans on defence, the Leafs now need Kubina on a green blueline if veteran Bryan McCabe isn't returning.

"He could be a serious candidate to be our captain," said Fletcher, who could be without Sundin and two of three alternates in McCabe and the traded Darcy Tucker. "It's Aug. 6 and we have to start thinking about these things."

Tomas Kaberle is the lone remaining alternate captain.

"He is among a number of candidates, but I don't expect it will be decided until the end of training camp," Fletcher said. "And if Mats is gone, it's possible we might rotate it (month-to-month as teams such as Minnesota do)."

As far as the McCabe stalemate is concerned, there is a growing feeling that he will agree to be moved somewhere in the autumn, rather than report to camp and cause a stir.

KILGER NOT READY

GM Jacques Martin of the Florida Panthers tells the Miami Herald that he doubts ex-Leafs winger Chad Kilger will join the team, at least for the start of the season.

"He is still dealing with some personal issues and, at this point, I don't think he'll be playing," Martin said of the winger the Leafs traded to the Panthers for a third-round pick on Feb. 26.

BRIEFLY

The NHLPA officially has launched a grievance on behalf of Leafs defenceman Jonas Frogren, whose bonus-laden contract was rejected by the league, which insists he take an entry level deal because he originally was a Calgary Flames pick ... Funeral services for Pat Quinn's mother, Jean, will be held at 10 a.m., today in Hamilton at St. Eugene's church. She died Sunday at age 88 ... Forward Brayden Schenn, younger brother of Leafs' first-round pick Luke Schenn, has been named alternate captain of the Canadian under-18 team for this month's tourney in the Czech Republic and Slovakia ... The Canadiens signed free-agent defenceman Chad Anderson, 26.


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