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NHL prospects John Tavares, Matt Duchene and Brayden Schenn watch the Detroit Red Wings practice before Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup final. (SHAUN BEST)
NHL prospects John Tavares, Matt Duchene and Brayden Schenn watch the Detroit Red Wings practice before Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup final. (SHAUN BEST)

Leafs, Thrashers talking Add to ...

Perhaps Brian Burke has a trading partner before the NHL entry draft, after all.

Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell admitted Wednesday he is listening to tenders for the fourth overall selection at the draft Friday evening, and he revealed he has swapped trade ideas with his Toronto Maple Leafs counterpart.

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"We're certainly going to look at the trade market, but we've had no serious offers," said Waddell, who was asked if he has been contacted by Burke. "We have talked to everyone. He has a better chance of getting to No.1 if he already has the [No.]."

Burke publicly disclosed his quest to land top prospect John Tavares of the London Knights more than two months ago.

But if neither the New York Islanders nor Tampa Bay Lightning - the teams drafting first and second, respectively - are willing to trade their selections to Burke, the Leafs GM has a back-up plan to go after Brandon Wheat Kings rugged forward Brayden Schenn, the younger brother of Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn.

The Los Angeles Kings are expected to take the younger Schenn with the fifth overall pick, so Burke would have to make a deal with the Thrashers if he wants to get his alternative man.

Burke did not feel that a deal was close, but wasn't giving up hope.

"Right now zero," said Burke, when queried as to the chance of pulling off a deal before the draft commences. "I will tell you quite candidly that I haven't gotten anywhere on this. But I don't get discouraged easily and in hockey terms it's still early.

"We will keep throwing some things at other teams and we have further meetings scheduled for [last night]"

If Burke fails in his attempts to land either Tavares or Schenn, he said that he's fine with holding onto the seventh overall selection and drafting another prospect.

"If we're not successful, we're going to pick and that's fine," Burke said. "Until they call out a couple of names we will keep trying to get the players we want."

If the Leafs do hang onto the seventh pick, the Leafs might take Spokane Chiefs 6-foot-5 defenceman Jared Cowen if he's available.

Burke would not comment on whether his team has interest in signing soon-to-be unrestricted free-agent defenceman Jay Bouwmeester because he is still property of the Florida Panthers until July 1.

The Panthers have been shopping the rights to negotiate with Bouwmeester before July 1 in exchange for a draft pick. Florida also would take a conditional second-round pick if the team is successful in signing Bouwmeester.

It is unlikely the Leafs will take a run at acquiring Bouwmeester because the defenceman is believed to be interested in continuing his career with a U.S.-based team.

Meanwhile, Islanders general manager Garth Snow continued to be coy as to whether he will call the name of Tavares or Victor Hedman when it is time to make the first overall selection. If recent draft history is an indicator, Snow will take Tavares. In the four drafts since the 2004-05 lockout, the first overall pick was a forward three times. In the past 25 drafts, 18 forwards were drafted first, five defencemen and two goalies.

In Tavares, the Islanders would add a talented sniper who would instantly boost their sagging offence that scored just 201 goals last year, the second lowest in the league behind the Colorado Avalanche's 199. In Hedman, a 6-foot-6 defenceman from Sweden, the Islanders would obtain a coveted player who has the combination of size, toughness and offensive skill.

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