Let me first premise my analysis on a Leafs-Nash trade by saying that it would take a lot of work on the Leafs part and a whole lot of luck.
That being said I believe that Brian Burke is not interested in making it to the playoffs and losing in the first round, second round or even the conference finals. It is all about winning a Stanley Cup in Toronto and thus if the Leafs make the playoffs this year the outcome will be only incidental to their eventual goal. I think that Burkie knows that the Leafs are not going to win the cup this year because they are not talented enough, they aren’t far enough along in their development and they don’t have consistent goaltending. I like the Leafs and I am a fan but we need to face facts and that is with the team as it stands, and with hopefully no high first round picks in the near future (unless acquired via trade), being a cup contender is not an eventuality for the Leafs.
So my proposition is that the Leafs blow up the team to a certain extent to acquire A+ talent and work on redeveloping the farm in the next couple of years. I propose we do this by acquiring Ryan Suter and Anders Lindback from the Preds to start off and then acquiring Nash and perhaps Mason from the Jackets. Jeff Carter is also an interesting option that could be pursued if Burke knows something about the new CBA that the rest of us don’t but otherwise the contract is just too long.
I would hope that the Leafs could acquire Suter and Lindback from the preds for Komisarek, Holzer or Aulie, Grabovski and Gustavsson. Some of these parts could be interchangeable as Schenn would be in play as a substitute for the Holzer-Aulie spot and Blacker could be thrown in there if the Preds would take him as such. Komisarek would be a contract dump which Nashville could afford but if they don’t want him he could be waived or pawned onto another team hopefully. Also I would like to keep Grabo and thus would prefer to get rid of Macarthur, Connolly, Lombardi or Armstrong instead but I think it would take Grabo and is expendable as a second line center with Colbourne and Kadri presenting cheaper options. The Leafs could also throw in up to a second rounder as well. So in summary the dream deal is Suter and Lindback from the Preds for Komisarek, Holzer, Grabovski and Gustavsson from the Leafs with a Tim Connolly throw in. The most the Leafs should pay for Suter and Lindback is Aulie, Grabovski, Macarthur and 2nd round pick.
Why this deal makes sense: For the preds they address some of their needs upfront for these playoffs, which they are clearly thinking about, and with Komisarek and Holzer would actually increase their depth at D while sacrificing some talent at the top end of their defense. It doesn’t look like they will be able to re-sign Suter and with this trade would acquire some future talent with a low price tag in Holzer . They would only have to suffer through Komisarek’s deal for one year (keeping in mind the Preds have cap space for Komisarek and he only has a cost of $3.5 million in real dollars next year). As for Lindback, they don’t need a high potential backup goalie with Rinne being on his ridiculous deal and will probably want more money they want to pay this offseason and Gustavsson could be cheaper.
For the Leafs this deal makes sense because you free up some cap space, get a solid goaltending prospect and get a Norris trophy candidate with the hopes of re-signing him for years to come. This deal is worth it simply for the rights to talk contract extension with Ryan Suter but the other two gains would be more important towards acquiring Rick Nash.
So without further ado I give you my Rick Nash trade Proposal: From the Jackets obviously they would give up Nash and possibly Steve Mason and from the Leafs, know take a deep breath, a combination of Macarthur, one of our Goalies whichever the Jackets want keeping in mind at this point we should have Lindback, a 1st round pick and two of either Schenn, Gunnarsson, Holzer (if he is still around), Aulie, Blacker or Franson. So essentially the Leafs trade away quantity with some upside for a superstar forward that’s calibre has never been traded before at the deadline (Thornton acknowledge but he is not/ was not as good as Nash).
Some conditions that might apply are that if the Jackets want Lindback we want Mason back in the deal. Also if the Jackets want Connolly, Lombardi or someone like that as a throw in as the Leafs you make it happen and if the jackets want either Schenn or Franson you insist that they take Blacker or Holzer as the other D-man in the deal.
Again this deal or combination of deals would be huge and certainly labour intensive, not to mention would require a pretty good sell on Burke’s part. And at the end of the day if this happened the Leafs maybe make the playoffs this year, or maybe not.If they do, then they might win one series, but probably not much more due to the fact that the team’s chemistry has been upset. This would mean that Burke would take some heat in the off season and would definitely take even more if he didn’t re-sign Suter. But if he does re-sign Suter after these deals the line-up would have a core of Lupul, Kessel and Nash upfront with Colbourne, Kadri and Bozak being cheap young options down the middle. The Leafs would have defensive core of Suter , Phaneuf, Gardiner and 3 of the following defenseman; Schenn, Franson, Gunnarsson, Aulie, Holzer or Blacker. In goal the Leafs would have either Lindback or Mason along with probably Reimer.
The upgrades of Nash, Suter and a goalie prospect beyond Reimer while maintaining the core of this year’s team would vault them from playoff contenders to Stanley Cup contenders in 2012. These deals would decimate all of Brian Burke’s hard work over the past few years building depth in the Leafs organization but would make them a cup contender next year which is Burke and the Leafs ultimate goal and he can go back to work building depth knowing that a strong core is in place for years to come.
One final note is that these deals are perhaps a midwinter night Leafs dream and should not be referred to in any other way than this.