October 06 2011 10:34AM
Might circumstance and necessity make the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs trade partners? Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox fuelled speculation today it might be so, citing "persistent chatter" the Maple Leafs are interested in Sam Gagner.
The Oilers are deep at forward and light on defensemen, while the Maple Leafs are relatively deep on the blue line but are looking to improve down the middle, which prompted Cox to mention via Twitter that this "persistent chatter" -- no word on who is actually doing the talking -- makes some sense.
Might there be common ground for a deal there?
DOES IT ADD UP?
Often-injured Tim Connolly, who was supposed to play centre on Toronto's the top line alongside Phil Kessel, is out with a bad shoulder and not expected to play in the Maple Leafs first two games, including the season-opener against Montreal.
Gagner, meanwhile, has been nursing a sprained ankle, so there's no guarantee he'd be ready any sooner than Connolly. In the longer term, however, GM Brian Burke might be looking for somebody like Gagner to bolster his top nine. Burke just added face-off specialist David Steckel, but he's a fourth-liner.
The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Anton Lander and Gagner, when he's healthy, as centres. They also have Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O'Marra on the AHL farm.
While there are questions about Edmonton's blue line depth, especially with Ryan Whitney coming off ankle surgery and Ladislav Smid out with a separated shoulder, the Maple Leafs are heavy on the back end.
They have Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, John-Michael Liles, Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and rookie Jake Gardiner in their top six, with Cody Franson, Keith Aulie and Matt Lashoff, just sent to the minors, waiting in the wings.
Even if the Maple Leafs are interested in Gagner, as Cox says, it doesn't mean a thing unless Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini sees somebody in that group as a useful part on his blue line.
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