Interesting piece over on TSN.ca from Darren Dreger on Nik Antropov:
There's a new sheriff in town and Leafs general manager Brian Burke has publicly made it clear the immunity Toronto Maple Leafs players have been protected by in the past no longer exists.
This week Nik Antropov is his target, to the point we shouldn't be surprised if Antropov soon becomes a healthy scratch in an effort to get him motivated, get him playing better and get him out of Toronto.
So, why now?
Why is Antropov, deemed at the start of the season by Cliff Fletcher to be Toronto's only top 6 forward, now considered by Burke unworthy of a contract extension?
Brian Burke is trying to get Nik Antropov going so he can ship him out.
The trade deadline is three weeks away and at the moment Burke has little or no outside interest in Antropov, once believed to be a player who could command a first or high second draft round pick via trade.
It would be foolish for Burke to criticize a player he deemed valuable, so instead he's publicly calling Antropov out in hopes the veteran forward finds his game; a game where goal scoring disappeared for 16 straight this season and glaringly shows Antropov was -10 in December and -5 in January.
Rival gm's haven't reached the panic stage yet and Burke is positioning for that moment to arrive.
When it does, on March 4th, or perhaps earlier, Burke wants to make sure Nik Antropov is a player teams are willing to pay for.
So, it appears that we have at least tacit confirmation that Antropov is indeed on the block. Also interesting to hear that there has been "little or no outside interest". The heat is starting to be turned up!