Deal, or no deal, for Sturm?

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:47 PM ET

Decades from now, when former Boston Bruin Andrew Raycroft has grey hair, creaky knees and is collecting his NHL pension, he will still be shaking his head at the deal that ran his buddy Joe Thornton out of New England.

"In 20 years. I might say: 'I was in the room when the worst trade in hockey history went down," Raycroft said yesterday. "I mean, I can't imagine there being a worse swap ever in hockey than that one.

"The guys in charge dropped the ball a little bit."

HOCKEY SHOCKER

Back on Nov. 30, 2005, Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell shocked the hockey world by shipping Thornton, the team's franchise player, to the San Jose Sharks for forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenceman Brad Stuart.

Fifteen months later, Stuart and Primeau have been sent to the Calgary Flames, leaving Sturm, 28, as the only piece of that historic trade who is still decked out and Bruins black-and-gold.

And he, in fact, may be living on borrowed time in Beantown, too.

Reports the past week suggest Sturm could be on the trade block, with Raycroft's Maple Leafs among his potential destinations.

Of course, if Raycroft hoped to be reunited with Sturm, he and his teammates needed a better showing last night.

By chasing Raycroft from the game after 40 minutes en route to a 3-0 victory over the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, the Bruins posted their third consecutive win and pulled to within four points of Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings.

And as long as Bruins management feels the team remains in the playoff hunt, it will be less likely to clean house.

In Sturm's case, there is a contract issue. The Bruins would like to re-sign the pending unrestricted free agent, but haven't been able to lock him up.

"We're back talking again, but there has been nothing serious as of yet," said Sturm, whose salary this season is $2.1 million US.

"If we keep winning, the chances are better (of me staying). But nothing is for sure."

Asked how he would feel if he was acquired by the Leafs, the German-born winger broke into a wide grin.

"I don't know if they need a forward," he said. "But if it was Toronto, it would be very exciting."

If Sturm, who is a 19-goal scorer this season, comes off the market, there will be one less option available to Leafs GM John Ferguson.

It's been known for weeks that Ferguson would like to add some scoring depth up front. And the fact that Michael Peca is on the long-term injury list gives him some wiggle room under the salary cap.

But heading into the final six days before the deadline, there are more questions than answers swirling around the Leafs.

Will Sturm even be available?

Is prying Bill Guerin out of St. Louis a pipe dream, considering prospect-rich teams such as the Detroit Red Wings might be willing to pay a hefty price for the veteran forward in order to keep up with Nashville's recent pickup of Peter Forsberg?

Does Ferguson make a strong pitch to outbid the Ottawa Senators for Gary Roberts, who wants a contract extension through next year in order to waive his no-trade clause with the Florida Panthers?

In any event, the Leafs would be ill-advised to part with youngsters such as 2006 draft picks Nikolai Kulemin and Jiri Tlusty, who are the future of a franchise that has lacked such skilled forward prospects in recent years.

After all, who knows what the future "worst trade ever" might be?


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