McKenzie: Canadiens buying, Senators selling, Leafs both

Bob McKenzie

2/1/2011 10:06:32 AM

The Montreal Canadiens are buyers, the Ottawa Senators are sellers and the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn't mind doing a little of both.

The Canadiens, though, have a limited budget in terms of cap room.

They have two needs and it will be interesting to see which ends up being the priority. With Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov out, they certainly need another defenceman, especially with Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik slated to go to unrestricted free agency this summer. But they could also use a top-six forward to punch up the offence, perhaps an improvement on Andrei Kostitsyn.

In Ottawa, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson are the only untouchables.

At this time, Jason Spezza's contract is unmovable and the same is probably true of Sergei Gonchar's and Filip Kuba's. Teams calling on any others, including Mike Fisher and Chris Neil, are being told, make us an offer.

Ottawa isn't eager to unload Fisher or Neil, but for the right price it could happen. The Senators most coveted asset is soon to be unrestricted free agent defenceman Chris Phillips, who could perhaps fetch a second-round pick. Other impending free agents Alexei Kovalev and Jarko Ruuttu won't yield much but there's been some calls on them and they could move.

Toronto, meanwhile, would like to parlay a defenceman into a potential top-six or top-nine forward. Most of the calls the Leafs get are on Francois Beauchemin and while the Leafs will move the veteran, they have to get a substantial return because of the minutes he logs.

The last thing Tomas Kaberle wants is yet another dog-and-pony show on will he or won't he waive his no-trade clause, but sometime between now and the deadline, Kaberle will let Burke know whether he'll consider a move or just play it out to unrestricted free agency.

I would be wary of trade rumours involving Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur. There are no untouchables up front in Toronto, but those guys are young and affordable and they're producing, qualities that are not in abundant supply in the Leaf lineup.