According to Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail, the Leafs and Carolina are discussing a trade that involves John Michael Liles. Earlier in the week, Darren Dreger reported the Leafs and Carolina were talking a Liles trade, but nothing was imminent.
Rumors have been surrounding Liles for weeks now, and these Hurricane rumors seem to be picking up steam with numerous sources picking up the story. As I like to say, where there's smoke, there's fire—or in this case, where there's clouds, there's a storm right behind it.
Liles carries with him a $3.875 million dollar cap hit, which will likely mean the Leafs will have to pickup a portion of his salary for a deal to be consummated.
Moving that contract may involve the Leafs getting creative when trying to move him though, such as including another roster player or prospects to get something in return.
What kind of assets do the Hurricanes possess is the greater question though. Who should the Leafs go after? What kind of deal can be made?
Top Three Hurricane Targets:
Defenceman Tim Gleason
Gleason has never been an offensive dynamo, however, he's a physical defenceman who can make a decent first pass. He's got a mean streak and has some international experience playing in a World Championship or two in his time.
With over 600 NHL games played, Gleason has 127 points and 583 penalty minutes. His price tag is $4 million, so the deal can be made straight up as both the Leafs and Hurricanes can afford to take on both players. The Leafs could end up not having to absorb Liles' contract either.
The most valuable asset he has is his physicality. If the Leafs acquire him, he'll likely play on the bottom defensive pairing or you may see him play with Cody Franson on the second pair, with Jake Gardiner moving to the bottom pair with Mark Fraser. Paul Ranger assumes the seventh defenceman, while Morgan Rielly is sent back to Moose Jaw, where he can help lead the
: Liles for Gleason
Defenceman Jay Harrison
A former Leaf who plays a very physical game. His type of presence on the back end would help the penalty kill out and would give the Leafs some much needed sandpaper on their defensive core.
Harrison has played in 268 games with only 54 points and 270 penalty minutes. He's obviously not an offensive star, but his physicality would be a welcomed asset on the Leafs defence.
Harrison carries a $1.5 million cap hit, so the Leafs would likely need to absorb some of Liles' contract for the deal to go through.
Liles for Harrison and a 4th Round Pick. Leafs absorb some salary.
Center/Left Wing Tuomu Ruutu
Speaking of players who'd fit in wonderfully in Toronto's system, Tuomu Ruutu's name has also been mentioned as a possible target.
Ruutu, despite injury concerns, plays a good two-way game that features an ability to get under the oppositions skin by hitting hard, forechecking, and of course, trash talking.
Ruutu has some offensive upside, however this season has been a season to forget for Ruutu who has only 2 measly assists in 15 games this year and is a -8 this year. The Leafs could end up getting him on a discount.
Ruutu carries with him a $4.750 million cap hit for this season and the following two seasons. With the likes of Nazem Kadri, Dave Bolland, Cody Franson, and Dion Phaneuf needing new deals, the Leafs would be wise to not take on extra salary if they don't have to.
Nikolai Kulemin and Liles for Ruutu and Harrison