It appears as though Brian Burke is once again combing through the NHL for a trade partner, or two, as he looks for ways to bolster his roster. It's been widely reported that the Leafs would like to move forward Jason Blake, and goalie Vesa Toskala at some point this season, while various rumors have also linked Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, and Jeff Finger to the trade block. Burke is believed to be looking for a gritty top-six forward to play alongside Phil Kessel, and according to at least one published report, the Leafs are interested in Florida Panthers forward Nathan Horton.
Horton, who has apparently caught the interest of the Maple Leafs, has picked up his game of late, picking up nine points in his last seven games with four goals, and seven assists through 15 games this season. The 24 year old has been unhappy playing in Florida for some time now, and The Ottawa Sun is reporting that the Panthers would have to take Jason Blake, and his $4 million cap hit back as part of a deal.
Horton has four years remaining on his contract, with a 4 million per season cap hit.
Jason Blake's game has improved immensely as of late, making the 6 million he is owed over the next two seasons more reasonable. At 36 years of age, the former 40 goal scorer does not fit into the Leafs rebuilding phase, and could excel in Florida with prior linemate Dominic Moore. Nathan Horton has stated he wants out of Florida, which could facilitate a trade, and Blake paired with a younger player/prospect such as Tlusty, or Stajan, may be enough to get Horton in a Leafs jersey.
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