Five on the bubble

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

With GM Brian Burke predicting the Maple Leafs will be "busy" heading into the March 3 trade deadline, here are five candidates whose names you likely will hear in speculation over the coming days.

F Alexei Ponikarovsky

CONTRACT STATUS: 2009-10 salary of $2.5 million US ... Becomes UFA July 1.

2009-10 STATS: 19 goals, 22 assists, 41 points; plus-5.

SCUTTLEBUTT LODGE: Most likely candidate to be moved ... Penguins and Kings among teams who reportedly are interested ... Understands he's trade bait ... "I like it here and my family likes it here, but hockey is a business and trades happen," he said.

F Lee Stempniak

CONTRACT STATUS: 2009-10 salary of $3.5 million US ... Becomes UFA July 1.

2009-10 STATS: 14-15-29; minus-10.

SCUTTLEBUTT LODGE: Reports have linked him to Sabres, although nothing has been confirmed ... Can be a productive player, although $3.5 million per season is too much ... Plagued by inconsistency ... "(A trade) is completely up to management. It's totally out of my control," he said.

D Garnet Exelby

CONTRACT STATUS: 2009-10 salary of $1.725 million US ... Becomes UFA July 1.

2009-10 STATS: 0-3-3; minus-5.

SCUTTLEBUTT LODGE: Acquired last summer from Thrashers for defenceman Pavel Kubina ... Deal saved the Leafs the difference between Kubina's $5 million a year salary and Exelby's $1.725 million ... Asked agent Neil Abbott to seek a trade out of Toronto in order to get more playing time ... Expect GM Brian Burke to grant him his wish.

F Wayne Primeau

CONTRACT STATUS: 2009-10 salary of $1.4 million US ... Becomes UFA July 1.

2009-10 STATS: 2-4-6; minus-2.

SCUTTLEBUTT LODGE: Quality veteran who could add much-needed depth to a playoff contender ... Offers grit, which is a coveted commodity at playoff time ... Scarborough native is a good character guy inside the dressing room.

D Tomas Kaberle

CONTRACT STATUS: Annual salary of $4.25 million through 2010-11 season.

2009-10 STATS: 6-40-46: minus-10.

SCUTTLEBUTT LODGE: Easily would net the highest return of the five in a trade, but Burke will not approach him to waive his no-trade clause ... No-trade becomes moot from June draft through Aug. 15 if Leafs make playoffs ... If Burke sticks to his guns, Kaberle more likely to be moved over the summer than in the coming days.


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