MacArthur Expected to Stay Put
The NHL's 3 p.m. trade deadline is expected to come and go, leaving Clarke MacArthur in a Maple Leafs uniform for at least the rest of this season, and probably next, as well.
In what could be a very slow final day of dealing, NHL general managers were reporting it was "very slow" overnight and early this morning, times when in the past deals might have started cooking.
The Leafs, meanwhile, are apparently comfortable going to restricted free agency and quite possibly arbitration with MacArthur, the club's leading scorer, and have backed off their previous stance that he would be traded if a new contract could not be arranged by the trade deadline. It was almost exactly that scenario that drove Dominic Moore out of town two years ago, but the Leafs appear to have softened their stance on MacArthur.
Meanwhile, MacArthur's agent, Don Meehan of Newport Sports. told The Star from New York late Sunday that he does not believe the Leafs intend to trade his client on Monday unless they get a boffo offer out of the blue.
"My impression is they want to make a deal with Clarke," said Meehan. "They'll watch him for the balance of the year, see how he does, see how the team does, and then reflect on that. It's not something they have to do right now."
That said, the Buffalo Sabres added a winger late Sunday, acquiring Brad Boyes from St. Louis for a 2011 second round draft pick, which in theory could mean the market heats up for MacArthur. Boyes makes $4 million this year and next, and his addition suggests the Sabres are about to become a more financially aggressive club under new owner Terry Pegula.
Most analysts believe MacArthur, who had the Atlanta Thrashers walk away from a $2.4 million arbitration award last summer before signing with the Leafs for $1.1 million, stands to get an award of around $3 million on a one-year deal in August if he goes to arbitration again. He has 19 goals and 29 assists this season.
If the Leafs and MacArthur can't come up with anything more than a one-year deal, he would be an unrestricted free agent in July, 2012.
"I don't think they feel their (arbitration) exposure on this is something they can't live with," said Meehan. "I don't see this as an urgent issue. They're happy with him, and he's happy with them."
Insiders also suggest it's unlikey Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars will be moved before Monday's deadline. Richards skated on Sunday in full equipment and could be back in the Stars lineup fairly soon. To wrench him out of Dallas by tomorrow, some team would have to offer a deal along the lines of what New Jersey got from Atlanta in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk last March, and that seems unlikely.
Chris Phillips, meanwhile, signed a three-year deal with Ottawa, taking him off the rental market.
Edmonton's Ales Hemsky could be the biggest name left, along with defenceman John-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche. The Leafs, meanwhile, are still hoping to land a defenceman, someone to help the blueline after the club surrendered four one-goal margins on Saturday to Pittsburgh and a two-goal lead to Atlanta on Sunday.
Florida, losers again on Sunday, could be two pivots, Stephen Weiss and Marty Reasoner, on the market. The Leafs have some interest in Weiss, but aren't expected to be willing to give up the two first round picks they picked up in deals over the past two weeks.