This is a list of players who will be and/or should be looked at being moved before the National Hockey League's trade deadline on March 4.
Jason Blake: $4 million against salary cap, three years remaining, age 34
Blake has been on fire since December, at more then a point per game pace. Is he finally relaxed in Toronto, in control of his personal well being, clicking well with a hard-working Moore, and comfortable about being flanked by either Poni or Hags?
Or will he fall back on old habits of the last few seasons?
In my mind, he's ready to be moved if there are any takers. He's on a high right now, so that's the right time to move him. The Leafs aren't going to be Cup contenders within the next few years, and his cap hit is better suited to pay for someone in the offseason.
Any mix of prospects or a second round pick would be fair for a team taking his salary.
Alexei Ponikarovski: $2.1 million against salary cap, one year remaining, age 28
Poni plays as well as his line plays—he works fairly well in the corners and has a hard shot. He just needs to go to the net more and finish some of his missed opportunities. I really can't see him being moved unless he's packaged with someone.
The Leafs are almost better to keep him and hope he plays even better next year, and then move him at the deadline then.
Nikolai Antropov: $2 million against salary cap, UFA this summer, age 28
It's been over two years since last Antro was seen on the sidelines for an extended period of time, which has been the biggest hurdle in his career. The second is his speed, but again, it's hard to compare that with a player that is 6'6". How much faster is a Chara or a Valabik?
Other than that, Antro has all the tools of a strong player at both ends of the ice.
If Burke can't find the salary to re-sign Antro, he must be moved. I would rather try re-signing him in the summer.
He's worth a low first-rounder or a low second-rounder and a prospect. There isn’t many with his cap hit and talent available.
Matt Stajan: $1.7 million against salary cap, one year remaining, age 24
He is still young and shows great signs of leadership. I’m still not sure where he fits though, but probably the second or third line center.
He can play both ends of the ice well and has shown signs of growth. I really don't see why Stajan should be moved, but there are rumours that he is available.
He should stay and play with more ice time in the next year, so if they feel the need to move him, he as well should be moved next year.
Jamal Mayers: $1.3 million against salary cap, one year remaining, age 33
Mayers is a leader in the dressing room, sticks up for his teammates and can be a role player as well as play on the PK.
He would be a great addition to a playoff team looking for depth. I think he could be moved, and if they aren't dealing enough players, he should be, just to make more room for youth in the upcoming season.
A prospect or a fourth rounder would be of equal value for Mayers.
Dominic Moore: $900K against salary cap, UFA this summer, age 27
Moore is still young and still has time to grow and develop, which he has shown this season. Primarily playing the last three months with Blake has improved both players. Mostly a strong third-line player with hustle, speed and very talented in making other players better around him.
I really think he should be moved at the deadline. He's on a huge high, he expects a huge raise in his salary, which I don't believe Burke will give him and is a UFA this summer.
If he's available in the summer for $1.5 million, sign him then.
Before Wednesday, trade Moore for a third round pick.
Pavel Kubina: $5 million against salary cap, one year remaining, age 31
Kubina is a great player. His salary is a bit high, but I still think he is underrated, maybe not for his salary but for what people think he’s capable of.
He’s a strong leader, plays well at both end of the ice, and his offensive abilities are some of the best, and it really shows when he can score big goals, which he’s done in the last few seasons.
In my mind, it’s either Kubina or Kaberle, not both. I'd rather the Leafs trade a Van Ryn or Finger, but they probably aren’t being sought after. There is a demand for the two players from the old Czech Republic.
Kubina should be traded for a prospect and second round pick.
Tomas Kaberle: $4.2 million against salary cap, two years remaining, age 30
There aren’t many players of his caliber, and his finesse style of play. Kaberle is a great puck-moving defenseman, he can quarterback a power play, bring the puck out of the defensive zone or position himself properly in the defensive zone and help out his team without using too much strength.
This four-time all-star has a low cap hit and still has a few more years left on his contract, which has many GMs salivating at the opportunity to have him on their roster.
I really think we should keep him, but if not, then Kubina has to stay. If an offer comes that Burke can’t refuse, then go for it. I’ll be sad to see Kabby go, though.
Kaberle for as low as a first round pick, another high pick, and a top prospect.
Ian White: $800K against salary cap, one year remaining, age 24
White has shown great strides in his growth this year. Put in a situation where there was no room for him, he fought and worked hard to get there, even playing as a forward. This puck-moving defenseman showed he is quite versatile.
After trading Coliocovo, he was moved back to defense, where he’s shown that he can still play offensive while being conservative and choosing wisely when he goes in for his chances.
He needs more work in his own zone, but is always learning. He is another player who I think should stay, but there are rumours for him being traded.
White for at least a third round pick or a physical Burke-type prospect.
Vesa Toskala: $4 million against salary cap, one year remaining, age 31
Toskala is in the midst of a really off season, and there are a few rumours that it’s his time to go. If we are rebuilding, I don’t really see any pressure for him to be moved. Maybe he’s just had one off year, maybe he really is injured or maybe we fans just need to relax.
I believe we can keep him, unless there’s an offer that blows Burke’s hair right up. We shouldn’t be trading a player when his value is low anyway, and if he isn’t playing up to par next year, he can play 50/50 with Pogge or another goalie.
Toskala for another goaltending prospect and a low pick if a trade is made.
Lee Stempniak really hasn’t shown anything worthwhile in a Leaf uniform. He's still on for another year, so there's no rush.
I don’t see him yet as a top-six player, and he doesn’t seem like a player that can be a strong role player.
Mike Van Ryn has been injured far too much to see what he’s capable of. At the beginning of the season he showed great signs of an offensive, strong passing quarterback.
If the Leafs were to keep both Kubina and Kaberle, and with the growth of White and Stralman, Van Ryn would be expendable.
Keep him on for another year, and see how he gels with the team. If not, he could be moved next season.
Jeff Finger has a high salary for a defenseman. He’s shown he can be a shutdown guy, but still has defensive lapses, and can’t be called upon to be that guy in the third period to shut the door.
He would be alright for a third defensive line pairing, but his salary is too high for that. Since we are rebuilding, no need to move him. Keep playing him for a year or two to see how he develops.
Curtis Joseph is just getting up there in age, and I can’t see the Leafs re-signing him in the offseason.
He’s shown his age on the ice—it’s not the '01-02 season anymore. If there is a taker for a goaltender backup and a leader in the dressing room, look no further.
In the run for the Cup, if anyone needs him, he would fit the role to a tee. You never know if a goalie gets injured, and Cujo could shine—he’s done it before.
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