Fabian Brunnstrom, a highly touted 23 year old unrestricted free agent mere days from signing with the Vancouver Canucks prior to the firing of Dave Nonis as general manager has shifted his focus east with the Toronto Maple Leafs having a slight edge among the frontrunners.
Maple Leafs assistant GM Jeff Jackson and Brunnstrom's agent JP Barry have had discussions this week that both characterize as encouraging.
The Leafs and Detroit Red Wings were believed to be high on Brunnstrom's list before he began aggressively negotiating with Vancouver where he was promised a plum position among the Canucks top six forwards.
Detroit is still regarded as a contender, but Brunnstrom may be reluctant to sign with the Wings because of their depth up front.
Sources say Other teams in the mix include the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators with Sens general manager Bryan Murray recently reaching out in hopes of making a late impression.
Brunnstrom, a 6'1", 210 lbs forward possesses explosive speed, similar to that of Pittsburgh's Marian Hossa. He scored 9 goals and 28 assists in 54 games as a rookie with Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League.
Fabian Brunnstrom is expected to make his decision within the next two weeks and will be command an entry level contract of 2+ million per year including bonuses.