February 19, 2011
Are the Leafs shopping Kessel?Scout says team looking for takers
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
The Tomas Kaberle Trade Watch is (mercifully) over, but that doesn’t mean Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is done.
One NHL scout said the Leafs have been testing the waters to see if there any takers for winger Phil Kessel.
“I was kind of surprised to hear his name as a possibility, but Kessel’s available,” the scout said.
A series of phone calls and e-mails from the Toronto Sun to other scouts and industry insiders did little to clear things up. One other NHL scout said he has also heard the Kessel talk but several others were unaware of anything of the sort.
In an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, Burke vehemently denied shopping his prized sniper.
In dealing Kris Versteeg and Kaberle, Burke has done a good job to recoup a couple of first-round picks for the 2011 entry draft after trading last year’s and this year’s first-rounders to the Boston Bruins in the Kessel deal.
The picks acquired from Philadelphia and Boston will be near the end of the first round, but at least now the Leafs scouts have something to do.
Unlike many of his comtemporaries, Burke seems to be ready to recognize when a player hasn’t worked out (Versteeg) and moves to fix the situation.
HEAR AND THERE
Don’t be surprised to see the Washington Capitals make a move soon. GM George McPhee (fondly — for now — known as GMGM in the District) has been working the phones, and scouts say he has been dangling forward Alexander Semin to improve his team ... From the “Other Shoe” Department: The Colorado Avalanche traded goalie Craig Anderson to the Ottawa Senators Friday and word is they are looking at a guy like Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings as a long-term solution in net.
With Kaberle having been dealt, another offensive defenceman who might be had is John-Michael Liles of the Avs, and he likely would command a first-round pick in return ... There has been a lot of talk around underachieving Nashville Predators forward J.P. Dumont — especially with Canadiens scouts around the Preds — but the word out of Music City is Dumont won’t waive his no-trade to go back to Quebec, or anywhere else, apparently.
The Blues playoff push didn’t get any help from the weather. The scheduled game Feb. 1 between the Blues and Colorado — postponed because of a storm — has been rescheduled for Feb. 22. That means the Blues will now play four games in five days; six in eight and seven in 10 ... The situation is turning from serious to dire in Atlanta for the Thrashers. “I don’t think there is an ability to stomach another $20 million in (annual) losses. We just can’t do it,” co-owner Michael Gearon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The reality is we need fans showing up and we need investors or a primary investor.” When you hear public comments like that, it’s no wonder the folks in Winnipeg get excited. Added Gearon: “I hope one, two or three other wealthy guys say, ‘OK, we’ll hop on this raft with you. Even though you are in choppy waters, stage four rapids, we’ll get on this.’ ” Doesn’t sound like there are life-jackets on that raft.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still has not progressed beyond some light workouts on the bike and is not symptom-free. The Penguins are 10-7 without him ... Ever wonder where all those people who used to live in Detroit went? Apparently to Tampa. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News figured three-quarters of the crowd was wearing Wings gear when they visited the other night. Even veteran Wings defenceman Nik Lidstrom was surprised at the support. “Nothing like this,” Lidstrom said. “When we scored it seemed like the home team scored. It was great to see, coming all the way down here.”
THE LAST WORD
Never heard of one like this: San Jose’s Dan Boyle took a shot the other night that wound up in the Washington net and didn’t wind up with the goal — or even an assist. The puck hit teammate Joe Pavelski, glanced off a Capital, then touched Sharks Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley before entering the net.
“A bunch of greasy forwards we’ve got,” Boyle said jokingly. “Greasy forwards all touched it, so congratulations to them.”