The Toronto Maple Leafs appear unlikely to deal Dave Bolland prior to the NHL’s Mar. 5 trade deadline – or make a big-splash of any kind for that matter.
“Right now there’s not a whole lot going on,” Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis told Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday. “We’re not close to anything, that’s for sure.”
Nonis said he has no interest in sacrificing first-round draft picks for rental players, which could include the likes of Ryan Callahan, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller and Mike Cammalleri.
The teams in sell mode, of which Nonis said there are very few, include the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.
“The asking prices are crazy,” said Nonis, who would like to upgrade his roster at centre and defence. “If we can add a piece that makes sense to us, we’ll look to do it.”
If the Leafs do swing a trade within the next seven days, Nonis said it will be a “hockey deal” for long-term assets.
“I don’t see us parting with a Jake Gardiner for an older guy that’s a [pending] UFA,” Nonis said.
Teams have inquired about Gardiner, the 23-year-old defenceman whose entry-level deal expires on July 1, when he’ll become a restricted free agent. It is expected Gardiner will be asking for a significant raise from his current $1.1 million annual salary.
“You can ask for whatever you want. We’ve all seen that,” Nonis said. “He’s done pretty well. I think his consistency has improved dramatically… I think he’s going to be a good player in this league. The cap is going up. Let’s be thankful for that.”
Bolland, another pending free agent, is reportedly seeking a seven- or eight-year contract extension in the ballpark of $5 million per season.
Nonis declined to comment on Bolland’s contract negotiations, but added he has a hard time seeing himself moving the centre before the trade deadline.
“Would we ever move him? He’s not unlike anyone else. We’d move him if a deal made sense,” Nonis said. “Unless it’s a deal that makes sense for us long-term, I can’t see us moving David Bolland.”
Bolland has played just 15 games for the Leafs this season. He is listed as day-to-day and will sit out Toronto’s first post-Olympic game Thursday versus the New York Islanders.
“It’s not quite there for him to participate in terms of strength for tomorrow night,” Nonis said.
Skeptics question whether Bolland, a second- or third-line player, is worth a significant investment. The Leafs signed another depth forward, David Clarkson, to a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million last summer. It is believed Bolland could be using Clarkson’s deal as a benchmark for his own negotiations, but Nonis insists every negotiation is different. The GM won’t compare contracts.
“I agree that right now [Clarkson] hasn’t played as well as he had hoped or as we had hoped,” said Nonis.
The GM said that the Olympic break came at a bad time for Clarkson, who has dealt with suspensions and injuries in his first season with Toronto. Clarkson, Nonis said, had shown promise during the team’s last two games in Florida.