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McKenzie: Maple Leafs could add veteran in net under right circumstances

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Bob McKenzie
3/29/2013 11:38:37 PM
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With each passing day, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking more and more like a playoff team, and with each passing hour towards Wednesday's 3pm et/Noon pt trade deadline, the Leafs look like a team that would, under the right circumstances, like to add a veteran goaltender with playoff experience.

The key phrase there is "under the right circumstances."

Toronto general manager Dave Nonis' preference likely leans more towards Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff than Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, though there have been recent discussions on both.

The Leafs are trying to find out from Calgary whether Kiprusoff leaving the Flames is a realistic scenario. His situation is well documented. He and his wife had recently had a baby and the last thing the veteran Finn wants to do is to pick up stakes and be a trade deadline mercenary for the balance of this season, especially if, as the story goes, he may be retiring at season's end.

There were reports Kiprusoff told the Flames he'll refuse to report if traded but while he's not keen on moving, Kiprusoff's agent simply told Calgary that they should consult with the goalie before making a deal and treat it on a case-by-case basis.

If he's willing to move, and that's what Toronto is currently waiting to find out, Kiprusoff could probably be had for a draft pick. Nonis might favour that price over the live body or bodies that would be required to get Luongo, who has nine years and more than $40 million owing on his contract. But if Kiprusoff isn't moving, then Luongo is being looked at.

The Canucks feel there's a Luongo deal to be made with Toronto. Toronto and Vancouver lieutenants Cliff Fletcher and Laurence Gilman met last week in Phoenix and had Luongo dialogue, leading Canuck GM Mike Gillis, for the first time, to talk directly to Leaf GM Nonis in the last few days.

Vancouver's asking price hasn't really dropped all that dramatically. Of course it no longer includes the emerging Nazem Kadri as it did in the summer, but the Canucks are still looking for a centre, Tyler Bozak obviously, a prospect now not named Kadri and a pick.

The Leafs are in the process of deciding what they need more - a vet goalie like Luongo or to hold onto Bozak, even though he's unrestricted at the end of the year and likely asking for a lot more money than Toronto is willing to pay.

This recent Toronto-Vancouver dialogue certainly suggests there's at least some chance Luongo could be moved before the deadline but there are no guarantees either, as the Kiprusoff option and/or holding onto Bozak could still win out for the Leafs.

But there's no denying that, under the right circumstances, the Leafs are looking at adding a veteran presence in net to work alongside James Reimer.

Luongo and Kiprusoff (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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