Leaf Talk: With Kovalchuk Signed, Who Are The Leafs' Top Five Devil Targets?

Brad LeClairCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2010

Travis Zajac could possibly be in a Leaf Uniform come opening night.
Travis Zajac could possibly be in a Leaf Uniform come opening night.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With the Ilya Kovalchuk contract finally behind us, the Devils now move forward in their pursuit for the Cup. Unfortunately, the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk put the Devils approximately $3.0 million dollars over the cap.

So what does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? It's pretty simple actually, to afford Kovalchuk, the Devils will need to shed at least $3 million in salary to do so, so that they fit under the salary cap. 

The Leafs who are also over the salary cap by $274,000 dollars, could benefit amazingly enough by this turn of events "at the Rock".

The Leafs right now have Jeff Fingers' $3.5 million contract still on the books, he will more than likely be sent to the AHL to cut the costs, leaving the Leafs with close to $3.2 million dollars to add to their cap.

You would also have to add in that the Leafs would probably have to give up some young talent on small contracts such as Christian Hanson, John Mitchell, and Luca Caputi. All of these players make under $850,000 a year and are prime candidates for the Devils to add to their roster.

With all that said, the Leafs could possibly add about $4 to $5 million to their roster right now with the eventual Finger demotion, and two third liners being dealt in the possible deal. They're also over their 50 contract limit, so a two for one Leaf deal could be likely.


5. Henrik Tallinder


Just recently signed with the Devils to a four-year $14 million contract, Tallinder could be trade fodder for the Leafs. His contract fits into the amount of salary the Devils need to shed from their books. Tallinder has a cap hit of $3.375 million.

Who Could Go the Other Way?

Carl Gunnarsson ($800,000 dollars)

4. David Clarkson


Clarkson is another prime candidate to leave the Devils. He will be playing third line minutes and has a fairly large contract for that job description. If he was traded to the Leafs, Clarkson comes home and could possibly see time on the top two lines with the Buds. His combination of size, skill, grit and truculence fits into the Brian Burke mold perfectly. Clarkson has a contract with a cap hit of $2.6 million. These moves won't get them out of the cap, but it will definitely help.

Who Could Go the Other Way?


Luca Caputi ($833,333 dollars) or John Mitchell ($725,000) 

3. Dainius Zubrus


Zubrus may be the most realistic option left for the Leafs, but not the best overall. Zubrus is huge coming in at 6'5" 220 plus pounds and could really bolster the Leafs' top six. He has a good awareness out there to play as the third line center as well, so he's a flexible add either way. He has a cap hit of $3.4 million.

Who Could Go the Other Way?

My best guess is a deal with Zubrus means a deal that has Bryce Salvador in it. With that said, Mikhail Grabovski and Christian Hanson could be going the other way. Of course the Leafs would probably need more incentive to do the deal such as a draft pick or prospect added to the deal.

2. Jamie Langenbrunner


Langenbrunner has a smaller deal and also has a no-trade clause, but as we speak, he could be a prime candidate for trade. A cap hit of $2.8 million means the Devils will not get under the cap with a move, however, if they added another piece to the deal such as Zubrus or Salvador, the Devils could get a good cluster of young prospects for two Devil players.


Who Could be Going the Other Way?

My best guess is a deal would have to start with Nikolai Kulemin and Luca Caputi. I don't think there's a lot of value in Langenbrunner, with him being 36 years old next year, but I have a feeling that's what the Devils would be asking for

1. Travis Zajac


With a cap hit of $3,887,500, Travis Zajac may be the right person for the wrong job. Essentially the Devils would have to lose Zajac for far less than market value. He is a first line center for the Devils and has experience playing with dynamic wingers such as Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. He could easily be the best fit next to Phil Kessel.

Who Could be Going the Other Way?

This deal would have to include a roster player and a few prospects, my best guess is Christian Hanson, Keith Aulie, and Jerry D'Amigo going the other way, but don't quote me on that. I'm just trying to find pieces that fit into the needs of both teams. There are probably better deals out there, and if you have one, feel free to share.

So who should the Leafs go after? Feel free to leave your comments below.

My articles can also be found at SportsHaze.com