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Leafs face multiple storm fronts

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie skates with the puck away from Ottawa Senators center Colin White in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie skates with the puck away from Ottawa Senators center Colin White in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre.

What could be the main concern of the Maple Leafs on Saturday, a Hurricane watch or the dark clouds of the NHL trade deadline?

The team tried to prepare for both in the morning, with emphasis on the game, but at least defenceman Tyson Barrie had the right attitude about his name being mentioned so frequently ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. finishing line for teams to deal.

“I skyrocketed to No. 5 on (TSN’s) Trade Bait,” noted Barrie, who could be in play with the Leafs unsure if they’ll re-sign him next season. “But it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before. It’s an unpredictable business. We’re focused here as a group on making the playoffs.

“I love it here, love the guys, we want to be a team that does something special. I’d like to be around for that. (A trade) is out of my control, but a big win tonight would help.”

Meanwhile, Mathew Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Erik Gustafsson and even pending UFA Zach Bogosian are defencemen being shopped around the league and possibly being sought by the Leafs.

Jason Spezza’s NHL career predates the 2005 salary cap to an era when trade deadline “was like the Wild West.”

“The deadline’s always been an anxious day,” the 36-year-old said. “There’s more activity leading up to the deadline now because everyone wants their cap numbers to line up, but it’s definitely a day that as a player, you like to see pass.”

Coach Sheldon Keefe tried to keep it business as usual after an optional skate, with no lineup changes planned from their emotion-charged win over Pittsburgh on Thursday.

“We’re not talking about the deadline, but we know it’s out there,” Keefe said. “We have a lot of pros in the room who’ve been through it. We just have to keep the focus on what we need to do on the ice.”

As a fringe forward of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early 2000s, Keefe said he never sweated deadline day too much.

“I have memories that no one ever wanted me,” he joked.

The Hurricanes played and lost Friday at home to the Rangers, but are expected to turn to ex-Leaf James Reimer in goal, with a record of 6-0-2 as this month unfolded to keep the Canes in the wildcard race. Frederik Andersen, coming off a shutout, will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in almost a month.

The Leafs, down to 18 games after Saturday, could be out of both third place in the Atlantic and a wildcard spot by early Sunday if they lose in regulation or extra time and Florida beats Vegas in regulation.

Winger William Nylander will be playing in his 300th NHL game against Carolina. Not far behind that milestone are teammates Zach Hyman, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.

“It’s been a special journey (for all the young Leafs) and with Zach from the minors,” said Nylander. “It’s been a lot of fun – and it’s just getting started.”

lhornby@postmedia.com

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