Blake Open To Trade
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake, who was nominated as one of the finalists for the Masterson Trophy, was quoted today in the Toronto Star as saying this past season was the most frustrating of his career.
When asked if he wanted to return to the Leafs next season, Blake replied that he didn't know.
When asked later if he would put up a fuss if he were traded, he said, "Oh no, not at all."
Blake wants to go, and the Maple Leafs don't really want to keep him around. Can the team find anyone who will take on his contract? He still has four years left on the deal at $5 million a season.
Despite these obstacles, it seems the trade is the most likely route, at least from the Maple Leafs' standpoint. Interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher said he would not buy out Jason Blake, because it would cost the team too much money against the cap.
Maple Leafs Will Meet With Nonis
TSN has learned that the Toronto Maple Leafs GM hiring committee, led by Canadian lawyer Gord Kirke, will meet with former Vancouver GM Dave Nonis on Tuesday to discuss the Leafs' vacant GM position.
Nonis is apparently being courted by the Atlanta Thrashers as well. Atlanta would move Don Waddell to the team president role if it hires Nonis.
It obviously all depends on who the new GM is, but there is belief that former Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville wants to return to Toronto as head coach.
So, there may be a little more urgency in the search, because a coach as talented as Quenneville is not likely to be available for long.
Stajan Likely To Re-Sign, Wellwood Up In The Air
Toronto has four Restricted Free Agents (RFA's) to take care of this summer. Matt Stajan, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Foster, and Ben Ondrus are all RFA's as of July 1.
Of the four, Stajan is the most important for the Maple Leafs to lock up. The hometown boy had a great season last year.
Despite the fact his numbers were not a huge improvement on the year before, he took big strides towards being a leader, as well as a valuable two-way forward. Stajan made $950,000 and will likely get a new deal worth just over $1 million.
The Maple Leafs will also likely qualify Alex Foster, and perhaps Ben Ondrus.
Wellwood is a bit of a different story and is quite a wild card, actually. Wellwood made $950,000 last year as well, and to my understanding, a team that qualifies an RFA has to make him an offer at least 10 percent higher than his previous deal.
This means the Maple Leafs would have to offer the injury riddled centre a deal worth at least $1,045,000.
Despite the fact he is coming off of two surgeries, Wellwood has shown flashes of brilliance and signs that he could be a real shifty playmaker, but there are a lot of question marks surrounding the young Windsor native. He was a healthy scratch quite a bit after coming back from injury in early 2008.
Leafs Interested In Bouwmeester?
Coming from Eklund at Hockeybuzz.com (not the most concrete source, so take it for what you will), the Maple Leafs are considering trying to put a "monster" package together that would land them Jay Bouwmeester, the talented defenseman from Florida.
Like I said, I am just reporting what I heard.