OFF-SEASON CHANGES IN STORE FOR LEAFS?
ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside recently wrote tonight's Toronto-Montreal game could be Mats Sundin's last as a Leaf if the club fails to make the playoffs. Although Sundin has frequently expressed his desire to finish his career as a Leaf and the club has made the right noises about retaining him, Burnside suggests parting ways with Sundin "provides one of the only real clear paths to improvement" for the team.
Spector's Note: Burnside is suggesting that the money the Leafs would spend to retain an aging Sundin might be better spent pursuing a younger centre in his prime, like Daniel Briere or Chris Drury. Logically, it makes sense, but the Leafs will look at this from a marketing standpoint and since Sundin remains the face of the franchise, they'll likely retain him.
TORONTO SUN: Mike Zeisberger reports changes could be in the offing for the Leafs should they be eliminated from the playoffs. "A loss means a second-consecutive non-playoff season, opening the door to all kinds of scrutiny," writes Zeisberger. "Will the Leafs fire general manager John Ferguson or open talks for an extension? Will Sundin be back? How about Jeff O'Neill and Michael Peca?"
Spector's Note: Even if the Leafs making the playoffs puts these questions on the backburner as Zeisberger suggests, I'll be bold enough to predict the future of those four. "JFJ" and Sundin will be back, win or lose. O'Neill and Peca won't. Discuss amongst yourselves, Leafs fans.
ZHERDEV PLAYING HIMSELF OUT OF COLUMBUS?
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline reports forward Nikolai Zherdev remains an enigma to Blue Jackets management, coaching staff and players. "Zherdev's attitude and his spotty work ethic seem to have worn thin only 2½ years into his NHL career. He has been described by those who know him best thusly: stubborn, a malcontent and an enigma. "A diva," one fellow Blue Jacket said." Zherdev however appears unconcerned, saying "I can't help it". His stats dropped noticeably over last season's career year, he has few friends on the team and his teammates resent his attitude. "When coaches confront Zherdev, often he stares back at them blankly. Sometimes he smirks. When the anger and frustration fade, they wonder whether he'll ever get the message. Why?" Portzline also reports Zherdev compares himself to Montreal's Sergei Samsonov, and given the fact Samsonov's played on three teams over the past two seasons "that may send a chill down the Blue Jackets' collective spine."
Spector's Note: Porztline's article is a rather lengthy one so I posted only key extracts. One you've read the entire thing, you can't help but feel that Zherdev could not only be playing his way out of Columbus but potentially out of the NHL as well. Under the old CBA there's always be a team willing to take on a player like him either via trade or free agency in hopes a change of scenery would improve his game, but in today's cap world fewer teams would be willing to take that chance. If he tanks it again next season the Jackets will either try to trade him or failing that, buy out the final year of his contract following next season. With his well-documented poor work ethic and attitude, he'd have a very tough time signing with another NHL team. That probably wouldn't concern Zherdev, however, as he'd likely land on his feet either in Russia or with a top European club.
TENKRAT HOPES TO RETURN WITH BRUINS.
BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports forward Petr Tenkrat is eligible for UFA status this summer but hopes to return with the Bruins next season. He has 13 points in 63 games this season.
No one else has any? Or doesnt want to discuss these?