NHL Trade Rumors: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke Eyes Dustin Penner

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIIFebruary 23, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 05: Dustin Penner #27 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on February 5, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With all the talk around where Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers is going to go, it seems that a lot of people have forgotten that his teammate, Dustin Penner, is still on the block as the NHL trade deadline approaches.

It came out a couple days ago that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has had his eye on Penner, after speculation of that fact came from Darren Dreger of TSN.

This doesn't mean that Penner is going to be on the move. Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini has said himself that he is under no pressure to move Penner, since his contract doesn't end until the end of next season.

In 59 games this season, Penner has 20 goals and 17 assists for a total of 37 points. That ups his career total to 125 goals and 111 assists for 236 points in 402 games.

One thing to consider if Penner were to come to Toronto: Burke would be reacquiring a player he lost to Edmonton when he was the general manger of the Anaheim Ducks.

Burke carried a lot of animosity towards then-Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe for signing Penner to an offer sheet that the Ducks couldn't match with their salary cap issues that offseason.

Tambellini has said that the starting point for a deal involving Penner is a first-round draft pick or a top prospect. Toronto has two first-round picks now and could give up one of them.

If Burke wants to keep those picks so he can move up in the draft, then I believe the Leafs might have to part with Nazem Kadri. With the recent acquisition of Joe Colborne, Kadri might have just been knocked down the depth chart.

So, let's assume that Kadri heads to Edmonton. What else would the Oilers need?

As I said yesterday in my article about John-Michael Liles, Clarke MacArthur could be added if he doesn't sign a new deal before Monday. Although, if the Maple Leafs are sending both Kadri and MacArthur out, I would expect a fourth or fifth-round pick in this year's draft in return.

At 6'4", Penner would add size to a forward core where the only regular player over 6'0" is Colby Armstrong. It would also give Toronto a top six of Penner, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski.

If you add in the possibility of the Leafs signing Brad Richards in the offseason, then Toronto's top six is nothing to sneeze at.

While this might not happen, Penner would be a great addition to the Leafs. If they were to acquire him, it would definitely help their playoff chances.