One week before the NHL trade deadline, Joffrey Lupul is actively being shopped by the Toronto Maple Leafs, reports Sportsnet 590 The Fan host Andrew Walker.
But the talented yet injury-prone winger is no rental.
Lupul, 31, has three more seasons after this one on a contract that carries an average annual value of $5.25 million.
The Alberta native returned to the Maple Leafs lineup for Saturday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets and likely impressed the baker’s dozen of anonymous scouts in attendance at Air Canada Canada Centre.
The playoff-bound Montreal Canadiens, who rank 23rd overall in offence, are one club that has been linked to Lupul in trade speculation.
“Especially when your team’s not going to the playoffs, there’s going to be rumours,” Lupul told me after Saturday’s victory. “When you lose 21 out of 25 games, everyone’s probably susceptible to being traded if the right offer comes along.”
Despite dealing with a nagging lower-body injury, the forward skated alongside Daniel Winnik and Nazem Kadri on the Leafs’ most consistent line Saturday and posted a plus-2.
The five-time 20-goal scorer has nine goals and 10 assists in 33 games played this season.
“It’s not like there’s any untouchable right now. So it makes it a little bit uneasy, but it’s part of the game,” Lupul said of the deadline stress. “If we had played more games like we did tonight, we would’ve been in a better situation.”
The Maple Leafs already dealt two of their better performers this season, Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, to the first-place Nashville Predators for a first-round draft pick, prospect Brendan Leipsic and centre Olli Jokinen. General manager Dave Nonis has said to expect more deals by March 2.
“I had a year back in Edmonton a long time ago where we lost 20 of 22 games, and it was kinda the same [feeling],” said Lupul, thinking back to a miserable 2006-07 campaign. “They were shipping out a lot of guys.”
Edmonton waited until summer to trade Lupul and captain Jason Smith to the Philadelphia Flyers for Joni Pitkänen, Geoff Sanderson and a third-round draft pick.
“It’s not a good thing. You have good friendships, and you never want to see players shipped out of town, especially when it’s building for the future and getting draft picks,” Lupul said. “It’s not an ideal situation.”
The Leafs’ next game goes Thursday, when Toronto hosts the Flyers.