TORONTO — Cap space is king.
The Calgary Flames were sitting on trade offers from multiple teams for disgruntled defenceman Nikita Zadorov, but only one of those trade partners — the Vancouver Canucks — had cleared enough money to push the deal over the finish line.
Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the teams who had made Flames GM Craig Conroy an offer for Zadorov, sources tell Sportsnet, but cap-tight Toronto had requested that Calgary retain a portion of the rugged D-man’s $3.75-million salary.
By shrewdly dealing Anthony Beauviller ($4.15-million cap hit) earlier this week to Chicago in the wake of Corey Perry’s contract termination, Vancouver was able to flip the Blackhawks’ 2024 fifth-round pick and its own 2026 third-rounder to acquire the coveted Zadorov and take on his full salary for the final season of his contract.
The Maple Leafs are caught in cap limbo as the injured John Klingberg ($4.15 million) debates whether to undergo season-ending surgery on his hip(s). He was seeing specialists in New York this week.
Coach Sheldon Keefe said Thursday morning that there is no update on Klingberg’s status, while GM Brad Treliving said he was hopeful to have an answer on next steps for Klingberg by week’s end.
Toronto is playing without three of its top six defencemen — Klingberg, Timothy Liljegren (high ankle sprain), and Mark Giordano (broken finger) — and Treliving has made it clear that he is working the phones in search of outside help.
The Flames are still dressing potential trade options in pending UFAs Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, though the trade price for those players is believed to be higher than Zadorov’s.
Complicating matters is the fact that the Flames — winners of five of their past eight — are trying to claw back into a playoff position.