With the NHL’s February 26th trade deadline now just one week away, rumors and speculation continue to swirl around the league. This past weekend, there were reports out of Toronto indicating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in acquiring Luke Glendening from the Detroit Red Wings. While the transaction wouldn’t be a blockbuster by any means, it makes a lot of sense for the Leafs. The team is in need of a reliable fourth line center and Glendening has some history with Leafs head coach Mike Babcock from their time together in Detroit.
The 28-year-old Glendening is signed for four more years at a very reasonable $1.8 million per season. He has a respectable eight goals and 14 points in 46 games with the Red Wings this season.
But, in a much more intriguing rumor reported just today, the Leafs have been linked to defending the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in a multi-player deal. It’s no secret that the Leafs have been seeking blue line depth this season and it’s also no secret that Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has been actively shopping Ian Cole for much of the season. Add former Leafs blue liner Matt Hunwick to Rutherford’s trade block as well.
Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun reports that Tyler Bozak could be in play, especially given his history with Penguins superstar Phil Kessel. Would a Cole for Bozak swap make sense for both sides? If the Leafs could swing another minor deal for Glendening as well, they may not even feel the loss of Bozak at the center ice position.
Another option is for the Leafs to hold on to Bozak for the stretch drive, but acquire Hunwick for some defensive depth. He could likely be picked up for a late round pick, as he doesn’t seem to be in Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan’s regular rotation. He plays the fewest minutes of any Pens defender and with the stretch drive coming up, expect him to play even fewer minutes moving forward. A fresh start back with the Leafs could provide him with a bit of a boost.
The veteran Hunwick was asked point blank about the rumors surrounding his future and offered up an honest opinion. "That’s the first I’ve heard of it," said Hunwick who inked a three-year deal with the Penguins this past offseason.
"You kinda learn that negativity doesn’t serve you that well. It’s better to be positive, get your work in and be ready for that next opportunity. That’s how you survive, how you be a good teammate. That’s what I learned early on and what I’ve done throughout my career, and it’s part of the reason I’m still here."
On the other end of the rumor, Bozak stepped up with some positivity himself. Praising former teammate Hunwick for his leadership skills. "He’s a great leader," Bozak said. "He’s obviously a guy who can play against top players."
Whatever happens between the Penguins and the Leafs between now and 3pm on February 26th remains to be seen, but until a deal is consummated or the deadline passes, you can expect the trade rumors to continue.