As expected it looks like Leafs’ GM Brian Burke will be a busy man at this year’s NHL trade deadline. Not only is puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle strongly rumored to be on the trading block, but TSN is reporting that both Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore will be sitting out Toronto’s game against the New Jersey Devils tonight to avoid possible injury. Moore, who is having a breakout season with 41 points in 63 games is looking to capitalize on his success and is reportedly seeking a contract that is at least $500,000 higher than the Leafs are willing to pay. Brian Burke is unlikely to cave on this issue – he proved with Dustin Penner that he doesn’t believe in giving a player a big contract until they’ve had more than one good season under their belt. As a result Moore is likely on his way out of town.
Nik Antropov, on the other hand, has been the subject of annual trade rumors pretty much since the day he joined the Leafs. However, in this case there is significantly more smoke than in years past. Burke criticized Antropov in the media, and the big Russian doesn’t seem to fit into the mold of a hockey player that Burke typically likes. Getting rid of Antropov will just be the first step of Burke really starting to put his stamp on this team, and you can expect whoever he gets back will have a bit more sandpaper than Antropov does.
Look for the Leafs to be one of the busier teams during tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline. They, unlike teams like Florida, St. Louis, and Anaheim, are clearly out of the playoff race, and are free to wheel and deal without worrying about negative consequences down the stretch of the NHL season.