I've been an Alexander Steen supporter even since he debuted with the Leafs back in the 2005-06 campaign. Since that time, Steen has made no progress offensively, posting 35-45 points a season in his short NHL career thus far.
That has to change. No ifs, ands or buts. Steen has been radiating top-six forward potential every season, and then he falls into a coma once more. While he'll never be regarded as a playmaker or goal scorer, Steen could be an all-around force, balancing his game in all facets.
What's frustrating is Steen could easily land himself in a top-six role if he were able to battle his worst demon of all -- consistency. As I said above, he tends to score his points
in bunches, and it's landed him the deplorable tag of a streaky player.
Is it a confidence issue? I believe so. Steen could often be seen floating around the ice, placing himself in bad scoring positions. While he's sometimes unnoticeable out there, it's not exactly a good thing like it is for rookie sensation (I just couldn't help myself) Luke Schenn.
On the flip side, Steen's defensive game has gotten better each season, which is further proving he's better suited for a third-line role. Steen is often used on the PK and in dying game moments. His speed and on-ice awareness has allowed him to flourish in his own end.
Still, that's just not good enough for a player who's capable of filling in a two-way role and scoring 60 points in the NHL.
Will his time ever come? Perhaps. But I don't see it with the Leafs. While he's scored some beauty goals to tease us with offensive possibilities, his inconsistency seems entrenched with the team.
So far this season, Steen has scored 1 goal and 3 points (with a -5 rating) in 13 games, ranking 14th overall on the team in points.
It wasn't long ago that the Philadelphia Flyers expressed interest in the Swedish forward, offering their first-round pick for his services. While his stock has diminished, Steen would sweeten the pot in a package deal. And rumours continue to swirl that Fletcher has a top-six forward in his sights.
Whether it's now or at the NHL Trade Deadline, I believe it would be in the Leafs' best interest to trade Steen, while his services are still enticing for teams looking for a young player with potential.
The departure of Steen would also give an opening to Tlusty, who I believe should be playing in the NHL (but that's another story)
What do you folks think? Should Steen be traded? Why or why not? And what kind of return do you see him getting?