Hockey

Leafs may have a shot at Tavares, says report

Pierre LeBrun of Hockey Night in Canada says the New York Islanders may be leaning toward choosing Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman with the first pick in the NHL amateur draft in Montreal on June 26-27.

New York Islanders could have an interest in Victor Hedman rather than the London star

That John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs story may have legs after all.

Pierre LeBrun of Hockey Night in Canada says the New York Islanders may be leaning toward choosing Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman with the first pick in the NHL amateur draft in Montreal on June 26-27.

If that happened, LeBrun said on Saturday night's Hot Stove segment, the Tampa Bay Lightning, holders of the second pick, might be interested in either trading their choice outright or choosing Tavares and then flipping the London Knights' star.

Enter Toronto general manager Brian Burke, who has already said he's aggressively going after Tavares.

"In the last couple of weeks there have been rumblings coming out of Long Island … and suddenly it's not a sure bet, according to these rumbling, that [GM] Garth Snow will take John Tavares as we've been led to believe all along," LeBrun said.

If that were to happen, he continued, "I'm told the Lightning would immediately go to Toronto's table and say 'Alright, Brian, we're open for business. We want [veteran defenceman Tomas] Kaberle and Luke Schenn."

LeBrun said he ran the idea by someone in Toronto on Friday "and there was laughter at the other end of the phone. But, who knows?"

Burke boldly announced in early April he wanted Tavares, despite having only the seventh pick in the draft.

"We'll immediately attempt to move up," Burke said. "We're going to talk to everyone between us and the first pick and see what the landscape is.

"We're going to see what it costs."

Burke also believes it isn't carved in stone that Tavares will go first, despite being named the most valuable player at this year's world junior championships, and winning the Ontario Hockey League's scoring title.

Hedman, already 220 pounds, was the Swedish Elite League's rookie of the year this season and made his debut with his country's senior national team at just 17 years of age. Snow, whose Islanders' club won only 26 games this past regular season, would not tip his hand when questioned at the draft lottery on April 14.

"We're going to have a great player for this team," he said. "With Hedman, you have a 6-6 defenceman who skates like the wind.

"With John Tavares, you have a forward who can obviously put up huge numbers offensively."

Snow admitted he already had one of the players at the top of his list, but would not identify which one.

Burke, whose own club is in a major rebuilding mode, has said that every player on his roster is available, perhaps even Schenn, last year's first-round pick.

"No player is untradeable," he said. "Wayne Gretzky got traded."

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