| Mikael Renberg can play with anyone.
Graig Abel Photography
by John McCauley
TORONTO - It was assumed that when Mikael Renberg returned to the lineup he would be on the right side of Mats Sundin, but not so fast.
Renberg, who had been sidelined for four games with a hamstring problem, found himself playing with Robert Reichel and Travis Green instead of the Leafs' captain in Saturday night's tie with the Dallas Stars. Gary Roberts and Jonas Hoglund were given the assignment of assisting Sundin.
The line of Sundin, Renberg and Hoglund has remained intact for the majority of the season. Head Coach Pat Quinn has dedicated himself to finding combinations that provide scoring and defensive balance throughout the lineup (see last year's version of the New Jersey Devils).
Renberg had no qualms with the move and performed well, recording an assist.
"Robert Reichel is a pretty easy to play with and Travis Green is playing great for us right now," Renberg said. "I think it's a great opportunity to play with their line."
Playing with Sundin has been an issue within the team at times. Roberts wanted the assignment earlier in the year and was vocal with the opinion, which caused a little stir. Many theorize that Hoglund should be move off the line because his lack of production along side the superstar.
Quinn has held his ground though and his strategy will probably garner five 20-goal scorers so it's tough to argue with those results. Notes:
Corey Schwab will start between the pipes for Tuesday's game vs. the Islanders but he will not have one of his regular defencemen in front of him. Aki Berg is not expected to dress for the contest due to the flu. ALL TALK NO ACTION
With the trade deadline less than 24 hours away many NHL players will be holding their cell phones close, real close.
But this year's shopping period is shaping up to be a yawner. Too many teams still in the hunt and not enough good players available on the teams that are out of the playoff picture. Even unrestricted free agents appear to be staying put.
"We've seen a couple of little changes, but not what you'd call significant," Quinn said. "With the names being played out there, a lot of teams are using the new language and saying, 'We'll rent our own player,' instead of trading them."
"You need to have these guys (unrestricted free agents). You might not get anything for them at the end of the season, but it allows you to stay competitive. This year, just getting to the dance gives you a chance to go a long way."
Toronto's only move so far has been the acquisition of Tom Barrasso but Jyrki Lumme knows anything could happen.
"There are lots of rumours and you know something is going to happen but you don't know what," Lumme said. "You just try to take a wait-and-see (attitude)."
The Leafs would like to add a defenceman, especially considering the health of Dmitry Yushkevich, but their hands are a little tied as far as bargaining chips go. Prospects are few right now and a roster-for-roster deal isn't likely.
"The `90s were not real kind to the Leafs in terms of developing our own talent. We're trying to get out of being in a `buying' situation all the time. We're trying to get into a Colorado situation. If you keep giving up your future, you almost always stay in the buying position," said Quinn.