Four teams reportedly seriously interested in Tomas Kaberle

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tomaskaberle3.jpgBrian Burke’s platter is going to be full today. With today being the last day he’s got to try and trade defenseman Tomas Kaberle, it’s looking like he’ll be going down to the wire at midnight tonight to try and send Kaberle packing elsewhere and free the Maple Leafs of his $4.25 million salary this year. As it turns out, Brian Burke had a lot to sleep on overnight as Lance Hornby of the Ottawa Sun tells us.

“I’d say there are three or four legitimate offers we needed to discuss,” Burke told QMI Agency. “There’s nothing worth taking – yet. If we end up with Kaberle (whose no-trade clause expires at midnight) that’s fine with me.”

Well, not exactly, given the preparations Toronto made to move on from Kaberle and get tougher on defence at the risk of losing his points.

Everyone, Kaberle included, expects a trade. Burke gave the process a huge push this week, letting it be known he’s adjusted – many would use to the term lowered – his sights to take a deal for a draft pick and/or a prospect, rather than the top-six forward he wanted to spur playoff chances.

It’d be fun to hear who these four teams are. Of course, if speculation is to be believed, Burke’s potential list of teams has gotten a healthy cut down as just a week ago there were supposedly seven teams in hunt for Kaberle. The big question is: Will he be traded? I’m going out on a limb and saying he will be traded.

Prime defensemen are a rarity and while many folks are going to judge Tomas Kaberle based on the numbers he’s put up in Toronto on very poor Maple Leafs teams it still doesn’t take away from him being one of the better ones you can have on your team. He’s an instant asset for a team looking for a power play quarterback and he’s proven he can score.

Ideally, Burke wants a scorer he can plug in right away in return, but if he gets a package of picks or a useful prospect I think he bites the bullet and goes for it because getting something in return for a guy that’s bound to leave via free agency will ultimately be more important. While he could wait things out until the trade deadline, who knows what the market will be then and who will have needs to be addressed.

Today could be interesting though. Stick around here and we’ll keep you up to date on everything.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.