OTTAWA - All eyes are on Brian Burke.
Maybe that’s because he’s one of the few GMs who will actually be in Ottawa for this weekend’s NHL all-star festivities, but with the trade deadline only 31 days away, everybody is waiting for Burke to make a move.
“He’s trying. He’s trying hard. He definitely wants to get bigger,” a league executive said Thursday.
In a battle for one of the final two or three playoff spots with as many as six or seven teams in the Eastern Conference, the Maple Leafs want to get stronger.
Burke would like Toronto to be more hard-nosed, especially up front.
A guy on the Leafs’ radar could be San Jose W Ryane Clowe. He has a cap hit of $3.625 million through next season, but the word is he might be someone the Sharks are willing to part with before the deadline.
Before anybody in San Jose picks up the phone to get GM Doug Wilson’s denial he’ll move Clowe, the belief is it would take more than the Leafs might be willing to offer to make that deal happen, so going after a potential unrestricted free agent is more realistic.
The Leafs would certainly have an interest in Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu. The Hurricanes have held talks with his camp, but it’s believed Ruutu wants too much on a long-term deal, which means he’ll likely be moved.
THIS ’N’ THAT
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford has been silent on the trade front. That’s partially because Carolina has played better of late, but it also has something to do with his outrageous asking prices for players. League sources said the Hurricanes are asking for either two No. 1 picks or an ‘A’ prospect and a No. 1 pick in exchange for one of pending UFA Ds Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen or Jaroslav Spacek. The price will come down before the deadline ... The Blue Jackets wouldn’t mind moving C Antoine Vermette. The market is thin because he has been available most of the season.
AROUND THE BOARDS
The Senators haven’t had any serious contract discussions with D Erik Karlsson’s camp and don’t be surprised if they wait until the end of the season. The way Karlsson has been playing, it would be no surprise if his advisers aren’t in any hurry, either ... Making his return to Ottawa, St. Louis G Brian Elliott was met a throng of autograph seekers at the MacDonald-Cartier Airport. The ex-Senator is happy to be back to play in the all-star game. “I wasn’t expecting this coming off the plane, so it’s already been a good experience,” said Elliott. “I can’t wait to see the guys I played with and the guys at the rink. I hope they didn’t have any hard feelings. It was tough in Colorado, but I’m back to feeling good on the winning side.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini could be busy. Sure, we’ve all heard the Oilers are trying to deal W Ales Hemsky, but there’s also interest in Ds Theo Peckham and Andy Sutton. The veteran Sutton is a UFA at the end of the season, while Peckham could be valuable because he’s an RFA. There are a lot of teams looking for blue-line help ... Keep an eye on Buffalo G Ryan Miller. He isn’t being shopped, but the Sabres will have to decide in the next two weeks if they’re in the playoff picture or not. The Ducks, Blackhawks and Lightning could all go looking for goaltending help. They would all have interest in Miller if GM Darcy Regier decides to make that move. Don’t rule out a Miller for Jonas Hiller swap. That should get the ball rolling.
Enjoy all-star weekend.