Little cap room for Leafs: Take 5

HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information in the hockey world.

1. Less salary cap room for Leafs next season

The one area that must concern Toronto Maple Leafs management in making the deals for Dion Phaneuf ($6.5 million US) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere ($6 million) is that the Leafs now have more than $45 million for 14 players committed to the payroll for next season.

That doesn't leave Toronto much room to jump into the summertime free-agent market.

Of course, the Leafs could move Tomas Kaberle ($4.25 million) in the summer, when his no-trade clause has a window that allows him to be dealt if Toronto doesn't make the playoffs.

According to several reports, Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter is expected to finalize another trade on Monday that would send Olli Jokinen ($5.25 million) and Brandon Prust ($500,000) to the New York Rangers for Alex Kotalik ($3 million) and Chris Higgins ($2.25 million).

The Flames would save $500,000 in cap space, but would be stuck with the underachieving Kotalik, who has two more years left on his contract. Higgins is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer as are Jokinen and Prust.

2. Cammalleri injury a blow to Canadiens playoff chances

Montreal Canadiens leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri will find out later Monday the extent of the right leg injury that he suffered on Saturday afternoon in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Cammalleri, who has 26 goals in 56 games, was crunched into the boards by Ottawa defenceman Anton Volchenkov with seven minutes remaining in regulation time. He left the rink afterwards on crutches and with an inflatable cast around his right leg. Cammalleri will undergo an MRI exam on Monday.

3. Booth returns to Panthers lineup

After a slew of setbacks, headaches and wondering when he would recover to play again, forward David Booth returned to action for the first time since he suffered a concussion as the result of a blindside hit from Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Oct. 24.

Booth missed 45 games because of his head trauma. But the 25-year-old sniper, who checked in with 31 goals last season, managed an assist on his fifth shift of the game.

He assisted on defenceman Jordan Leopold's late first period goal. After fanning on a shot, Booth spun around to fire another attempt that hit the post. Teammate Michael Frolik grabbed the rebound and fed a pass to Leopold for the game's first goal in a 2-0 Florida victory at home against the New York Islanders, in a game the legendary Gordie Howe attended.

"It was exciting," Booth said. "It felt like October again. You just jump right back into the flow and it's a good feeling.

"All the guys have been behind me since the injury and that's carried me through this. "It's just a first step. I have to keep pushing myself to get back where I want to be."

4. No second-half collapse for the Coyotes

Last season, the Phoenix Coyotes were on their way to ending a playoff drought that has existed since they were dropped out after the first round in 2002. But a decent start, which had the Coyotes five games over .500 on Jan. 20, was wiped out by a 12-20-4 finish.

This time around, the Coyotes have kept up their early-season pace. They have won seven of the past nine games and captain Shane Doan has been playing some inspired hockey. Since he was left off the Canadian Olympic team roster on Dec. 30, Doan has scored seven goals, including two game winners, and 17 points in 15 games.

5. European invasion

It's been no secret for a while now that the San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild will open the 2010-11 NHL season in Europe.

But what has become clear is the Sharks and Blue Jackets will begin in Stockholm. The Bruins and Coyotes will meet in Prague. The Wild and Hurricanes will clash in Helsinki.

The league is expected to make it official prior to the Olympics.