The NHL scouting process is sometimes a bit confusing. A sighting of a team’s scout in another building can be to check out a specific player or players for a possible trade, but it also can be to compile information and evaluate an opponent for a future meeting.
Earlier this week, the Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater spotted a Maple Leafs scout in Denver at the Avalanche – Pittsburgh Penguins game.
Circumstantial evidence would indicate this sighting is trade related, since Toronto has completed their season series against the Avs and do not play the Penguins until the last weekend of the season.
Colorado is a certain seller before March 1, with everyone except Nathan MacKinnon and 2015 top pick Mikko Rantanen available for the right price.
Toronto is not likely interested in veterans Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque or Fedor Tyutin as rentals. A deal for defenseman Tyson Barrie does not add up since the Avs are asking for young defensemen in every potential trade and the Leafs do not need to add an expensive forward like Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog.
There has been talk of the Leafs looking for a depth center, which could mean interest in former Leaf John Mitchell(a pending UFA) or RFA Mikhail Grigorenko.
On Saturday, Flyers beat reporter Dave Issac reported a Toronto scout among seven team representatives at the Philadelphia – San Jose game.
The Flyers are expected to be both a buyer and seller at the deadline. They have an excess of defensemen on their NHL and AHL roster and are looking for forward depth with the injury to rookie Travis Konecny.
San Jose GM Doug Wilson and Lou Lamoriello made a pair deadline deals involving Roman Polak and James Reimer last February and the Sharks maybe looking to add a spare defenseman for a long playoff run.
Toronto plays both clubs one more time this season.
An out of the ordinary lineup change is another event that is bound to raise eyebrows.
Leafs winger Josh Leivo, who played only his third game of the season in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on Thursday, will be in the lineup on Saturday when the Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Center on Saturday.
Leivo played with energy on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Ben Smith and his being in the lineup for a second straight game may simply be a reward the effort or a sign that Soshnikov is not ready to return.
It is also possible that the 23-year-old is getting playing time now to give other team's scouts a look.
Toronto is not expected to be very busy at the deadline, but one thing they may do is put their house in order for the expansion draft this June.
Leivo is likely to be unprotected and the Leafs could have interest in making a preemptive move for a prospect or draft choice instead of losing him to Las Vegas for nothing.
Frederik Andersen will get the start for Toronto against the division rival Sabres, who are seven points in back of the Leafs.
Robin Lehner, who was pulled after allowing three goals in the second period of a 4-3 loss on January 17, will be between the pipes for Buffalo.