The Toronto Maple Leafs could be a very different team before the NHL trade deadline expires on April 3.
They're far from the only team looking to move some parts this season. With the shortened season, general managers aren't afforded the same kind of time to see if their teams need to shake things up. Waiting until April may be too late.
Rumors are really starting to heat up, considering there's now a month before the deadline is up, and will only continue to increase.
Here's the latest news on three names who could be traded this season.
Phil Kessel has been one of the biggest names floating on the market. With a player of his caliber, you're going to see quite a few teams try and make a move should the 25-year-old winger become available.
It just doesn't look like it's going to work out for Kessel in Toronto, as he hasn't shown the kind of leadership you'd expect from somebody with his talent.
As a result, Kessel might be plying his trade in another city by April 3. As Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe writes:
Meanwhile, rumors persist in Toronto that general manager Dave Nonis may unload Kessel (4-12—16 in his first 22 games) prior to the April 3 trade deadline. In three-plus seasons, the ex-Bruin has convinced many up there that he’s neither a leader nor core performer. Add him to a deep lineup with a coach who emphasizes offense (say, the Blackhawks, or maybe Canucks or Ducks), and he could be that 60-, 70-, or even 80-point guy who helps deliver a Stanley Cup.
The Maple Leafs gave up two first-round picks and a second-round pick to acquire Kessel in 2009. He's shown flashes of immense talent which have only helped to turn fans against him, as he has been far from consistent despite his steady numbers.
Both sides might be better off by parting ways.
One Maple Leaf who almost certainly looks to be off is Mike Komisarek. Rather than with Kessel, it's not a matter of if but rather when. Andy Strickland of TrueHockey tweeted that Komisarek is ready to leave Toronto:
Andy Strickland @andystrickland
Mike Komisarek gave #Leafs a list of 12 teams he'd accept a trade to but I'm told he'd pretty much accept a trade anywhere. Wants to play2013-3-2 17:15:04
The 31-year-old defenseman has been hit by injuries since signing with Toronto prior to the 2009-10 season. Komisarek appeared in 34 games that season, 45 in 2011-12 and just four this year. When you combine that with the $4.5 million cap hit he brings, demand in Komisarek might be a little diminished.
He was a very productive player with the Montreal Canadiens, but his career has gone downhill since the move to the Maple Leafs. If Komisarek can stay healthy and reach the level he did in Montreal, a team could be getting a bit of a bargain before the trade deadline.
Should this come to fruition, it would likely cause quite a stir in the league. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that the New York Rangers may be looking to move Marian Gaborik:
The talk amongst NHL executives is the Rangers have floated the idea of moving RW Marian Gaborik. He has a cap hit of $7.5 million through 2013-15 and will be a UFA at the end. It's believed the Rangers are sniffing around to see what kind of value he has on the market.
The likelihood of the Rangers actually dealing Gaborik is extremely low.
His deal doesn't expire this season, so there's no real urgency to make a move now. In addition, he's been a points machine since making the move to New York. In his four seasons with the team, Gaborik has scored 112 goals and added 110 assists. He's proven himself and been a dependable player for over a decade.
The Rangers would be foolish to trade him at this point. They wouldn't be able to get anything near fair value and would likely have to gamble on younger players rather than established stars.