With Kyle Wellwood and Darcy Tucker disposed and Andrew Raycroft's future with the Toronto Maple Leafs heavily in question, who becomes Cliff Fletcher's next target?
Answer: Bryan McCabe, but it may take the rest of the summer for this move to play out.
Sources tell TSN the Maple Leafs approached McCabe's agent, Ian Pulver before the NHL Entry Draft hoping to encourage the veteran defenceman to waive his no-movement clause to open the door for a trade.
However, this time, whether intended or not, Toronto turned up the heat and according to sources, hinted McCabe may be asked to stay home, rather than join his teammates for training camp if he wasn't willing to change his mind.
Those close to McCabe say he will not be strong-armed and if attempts are made to force him out, a grievance will be filed with the NHL Players' Association.
Maple Leafs assistant general manager Jeff Jackson contends there have been no threats. "Neither Cliff nor I have threatened anything," Jackson told TSN. "We've had discussions with Ian Pulver about Bryan's future in Toronto."
Jackson added that practical considerations have been discussed with Pulver as well, but refused to go into the specifics.
The Maple Leafs would love to rid themselves of McCabe's contract which has three years remaining, paying $6.15 million for 2008-2009 and $4.15 million in each of the final two years of the deal.
Pulver has told Leafs management if the team doesn't want McCabe, or no longer values his playing ability then the solution is to buy him out.
Cliff Fletcher has made it clear that a buyout doesn't make good business sense as in addition to paying two-thirds of his remaining salary, Toronto would also be on the hook for a $ 2 million dollar signing bonus which must be paid in full by September 15.
If the Leafs have little interest in playing McCabe under the guidance of head coach Ron Wilson, then a trade appears to be the Leafs' only palatable option.
The Atlanta Thrashers, New York Rangers and New York Islanders all expressed interest in the 33-year-old at varying points last year and the belief is Toronto could find McCabe a new home relatively quickly if he softens on his contract.
At this point, McCabe's position remains the same and he has no interest in knowing which teams could be in the mix.