Maple Leafs Not Interested In Nikolai Zherdev, But Can They Still CAPITALize?

Jack PorterCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 05:  Nikolai Zherdev #13 of the New York Rangers warms up before playing against the New York Islanders on March 5, 2009 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Despite all the speculation that the Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in signing the offensively gifted Nikolai Zherdev, USA Today's Kevin Allen is reporting that Toronto GM Brian Burke has told him that he has "no interest in signing Zherdev".

Allen "tweeted" this at 8:44am on August 5th.

However, one team that has been rumoured to be interested is the Washington Capitals. The Caps are looking to make a move that would open up the necessary salary cap space to ink Zherdev.

One can see this as a very good opportunity for GM Brian Burke to convert his excess of defensemen into some picks and prospects and maybe a little offense.

Washington's primary goal is to shed salary, but you'd have to think they would love to shed salary and pick up some much needed help on the backend.

This is where Burke comes in like a knight in shining armour.

If Burke could swing a deal to send one of Jonas Frogren or Garnett Exelby to Washington, The Caps would probably be more than willing to send a package consisting of a player like Brooks Laich and a prospect or pick. Laich, 26, scored 23 goals last season with 30 assists and could help the Leafs with some much needed offense.

The Capitals in turn get a defensively responsible defenseman and about $1 million in cap space to go towards signing Zherdev. Zherdev would virtually be an upgrade from Laich so in the Caps mind they traded Laich and a pick for Frogren/Exelby and Zherdev.

Just something to chew on.

What are your thoughts? Comment below with your ideas.