Report: Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers Agree on Deal For Bryan McCabe

Josh LewisSenior Analyst IAugust 14, 2008

According to TSN, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers have agreed on a trade that would send beleaguered defenseman Bryan McCabe to Miami.

McCabe has reportedly waived his no-movement clause and is willing to move to the Panthers. It's believed that is largely because his wife's parents live in Florida.

Sources close to the Leafs say the only thing holding the deal up is a $2 million bonus owed to McCabe on Sept. 1. The Cats are unwilling to foot the bill, so Toronto will pay McCabe the bonus before the trade is completed.

There is no word on what Toronto will receive in return for the 33-year-old blueliner, but the name being thrown around by bloggers is 28-year-old defenseman Mike Van Ryn, who missed the last 60 games of the season with a serious wrist injury and carries a $3 million price tag for each of the next two years.

Various reports have the Leafs sending another roster player along with McCabe, while others say the Panthers will add a young forward like David Booth or Stephen Weiss and perhaps a draft pick.

Let's have a little fun and try to guess what this trade will look like.

If the Leafs are sending another player with McCabe, it's almost guaranteed to be Alexei Ponikarovsky or Ian White. Both are casualties of the numbers game and neither one has been mentioned by Fletcher or Ron Wilson all summer, which leads me to believe neither is in the plans.

Boyd Devereaux is another possibility. Some might believe it to be Mark Bell, but that's unlikely because the Panthers wouldn't want to take on two bloated contracts.

Let's go with Ponikarovsky. The Panthers certainly don't need two defensemen, but they could use another forward.

As for players who might be coming the other way, Van Ryn is almost a lock. He's been bumped down the depth chart by the acquisition of Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and has an inflated contract. There are also grave concerns about his ability to put up points with the injury he's sustained.

Of course, the Leafs don't have room for him either, but to get rid of a guy like McCabe you need to make some sacrifices. Van Ryn would likely wind up as the seventh defenseman, which would be a shame because it would deny Staffan Kronwall yet another shot at regular ice time.

There's also the possibility that Van Ryn's injury is bad enough to place him on long-term injury—which would relieve the Leafs of his cap hit, but I'd never wish that predicament on anyone.

Another defenseman whose name has gotten some play is Karlis Skrastins, a very underrated shot-blocking defenseman from Latvia. He would do a lot to tighten up the Leafs' play in their own end, but he'd virtually make Jeff Finger unnecessary, and it's doubtful the Panthers would give him up.

A few forwards have also been mentioned, one being the 23-year-old Booth. He notched 22 goals and 40 points last season, but is not seen as a legitimate top six forward. He is more likely to wind up as a two-way checking player. Problem is, the Leafs have quite a few players who fit that description, including free agent signing Niklas Hagman.

Weiss is another name that has been thrown out there. The fourth overall pick in 2001, he has never lived up to expectations. Despite being given lots of opportunity on a struggling Panthers squad, he has never broken the 50-point barrier and took a step backward last season with 42 points.

At this point, it's tough to see Weiss becoming a second line centre. He could be for the Leafs, but that's not exactly difficult. Acquiring Weiss would make the trade for Mikhail Grabovski pointless. It would be wise to let this underachiever stay in Florida.

Bloggers have also mentioned draft picks, and while it would be mind-boggling to see the Panthers give up a high first round pick in a deep draft for McCabe, they might move a second rounder.

The view from here says it will be McCabe and Ponikarovsky for Van Ryn and a 2009 second round pick.

It's hard to know at this point who the principals will be, but we do know with relative certainty that Bryan McCabe will be a Florida Panther come September.

Once that happens, Cliff Fletcher will have completed all of his major objectives heading into the off-season. He got rid of big contracts and dead weight, he made the team considerably younger, faster and grittier, and the team had an excellent draft.

Congratulations on passing your first test with flying colours, Cliff. I don't know why we ever doubted you.


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