As training camp approaches, there will be no shortage of forwards rumoured to be heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for one of their excess defensemen. The two players currently being mentioned in the rumour mill, however, will command a little more than a spare part.
Those two players are Patrick Marleau, and Patrick Sharp.
Marleau enjoyed a comeback season in 2008-09, having perhaps his best all-around campaign in the National Hockey League. However, another abysmal display in the playoffs tarnished his accomplishments during the regular schedule, and as a result his captaincy was stripped in the off-season. While this no doubt lowers the 30-year-old’s (turns 30 in September) value, make no mistake, Marleau will not come cheap. The San Jose Sharks are well aware that without the added pressure, their former captain could return to his 80-point days.
But hey, this is Toronto. Nothing stops the center of the hockey universe from dreaming about acquiring star players. Not only do I think the Sharks would not trade one of their star players to a team in bare supply of assets, but I don’t think the Leafs are in need of a player like Marleau.
Considering the Leafs are still years away from realistically competing for the Stanley Cup, does it seem like a logical move to trade away a large portion of the Leafs’ assets for a player like Marleau? No way, Jose (sorry for that one).
Not only would Marleau be trending down by the time the Leafs are ready to compete, but Brian Burke would have to offer a significant deal in order to ply Marleau from the Sharks. Probably something like Ian White, a young scoring forward, and a draft pick. Quite simply, the Leafs are in no position to be trading for a first-line forward. If Burke is interested in acquiring a top-six player via trade, then he needs to target a second-line forward who won’t cost the farm.
In comes Patrick Sharp.
Sharp, who is just entering his prime at 27, had a 30-goal season derailed due to the injury bug in 2008-09. He’s somewhat of a late-bloomer, only finding his game during the 2007-08 campaign when he produced 36 goals and 62 points in 81 games. But offense is not the only facet of his game. Sharp can kill penalties and has proved to be a reliable two-way forward for the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, the Sharks won 36 of the 61 games Sharp played last season. They only won 10 of 21 when he was absent (kudos to TheScore Sports Forecaster for that stat).
While not a proven commodity in the NHL, Sharp has the potential to put up 40 goals someday. If not, expect him to be a 30-30 guy throughout his prime years. He may not be first-line material, but he’s the kind of player you want on your second-line.
Not only that, but Sharp wouldn’t cost the Leafs a large portion of their assets. He’s younger, and his 3.9 million dollar cap hit is much more attractive than Marleau’s 6.3 million dollar price tag.
The Blackhawks appear to be primed for a Stanley Cup run, but one of the team’s most pressing needs is a stay-at-home defender to solidify the defensive zone coverage. So it begs the question: Would Stan Bowman be interested in trading Sharp for a defenseman like Jeff Finger and other assets?
Well, the Blackhawks have approximately 3 million in cap space. Considering Finger, who led the Leafs in blocked shots with 158 last season, makes $400K less than Sharp, the Blackhawks have nothing to lose. While it would require more than just Finger to get the deal done, the Leafs also have players to spare upfront. Does this not seem like a much more logical and realistic possibility compared to Marleau?
I also happen to think Sharp would look good alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself now.
Also, I think I deserve a medal or something for that title. C’mon.