Leafs prepare for trade deadline

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:53 PM ET

TORONTO - The Maple Leafs wrapped up a couple of days of pro scouting meetings in Tampa Bay this week with an eye to the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline.

“I remind our guys that anything can happen,” vice-president of hockey operation Dave Poulin said.

“Zdeno Chara has won a Norris Trophy in Boston, but he has also been traded once and signed as a free agent once. The same with a guy such as Marian Hossa.

“In some cases, when a name comes up on our screen, we’ve been watching the player since he was 16. We have a curve and a full ratings scale on them.”

Poulin was joined by senior VP David Nonis, assistant GM Claude Loiselle and pro scouts Mike Penny, Steve Kasper and Rob Cowie. GM Brian Burke dropped by on the last day. Penny and Cowie usually cover NHL and minor pro games in the Western time zones, Poulin and the others in the East.

“By now everybody has seen everybody,” Poulin said. “I saw about 180 games last year, but that’s amateur games as well (those scouting meetings were last week). We’re gathering and deciphering info all the time. If you look at the afternoon Marlie games in Toronto, you’ll see many team scouts there (who then go to watch the Leafs).”

Though all NHL games and some in the AHL are on the tube, Poulin says there is no substitute for scouting a game live.

“The TV camera will only show you what’s happening around the puck,” he reminded. “Most of us will go to a game and sit on the side of the rink that faces the benches. You want to see how the player does away from the puck, what his interactions are with the coach and others.

“Being there also gives our team a presence. A guy like Mike Penny has worked at every level and knows the equipment guys up to the GMs. Steve has been a player, a coach and an agent. Cowie knows so many people in the game.”

UPHILL BATTLE

When the Leafs get back in action next week, there will be 33 games remaining on their schedule. In order to reach at least 90 points, generally considered the minimum to make the playoffs, Toronto will need to win at least 24 or make up the 47 points through some combination of regular season and overtime results — and hope for a lot of help from Western Conference teams or those below them in the East. The Leafs are 14 points out with four teams to pass, including the current eighth-place residents, the Atlanta Thrashers.

REIMER ROCKIN’

As impressive as James Reimer’s .933 save percentage is, don’t be looking for the rookie Leaf to appear among the National Hockey League leaders just yet.

While he technically ranks second to Tim Thomas of the Bruins (a .945 mark), as of Tuesday, Reimer needed to have played in at least 17 games to qualify for the top of the class.

The 22-year-old Reimer has appeared in just eight games, but a steady stream of work after the all-star break might change the picture. Among NHL rookies who have played at least eight games, Reimer is definitely on top, while Sergei Bobrovsky of the Flyers is .920 after 32 appearances.


Videos

Photos