So another trade deadline has come and gone, and Leaf fans have come to expect the outcome under Nonis' watch, which this time was predictably trading off pending ufa's and standing pat with the rest of the group. One entirely amazing, unpredictable, smart move that has shocked many in the hockey world has seen David Clarkson shipped to a money conscious Columbus Blue Jackets in return for cap relief in the sad story that has become Nathan Horton. Many have seen this one trade as important as trading off any key player, as it gives the Leafs an automatic kickstart to the rebuild. Having to drag Clarkson through the mud for the next 5 seasons would have been unfair to the player and the fans alike, and now everyone can move on, thank god.
This gives the Leafs a ton of options now when deciding how/when to trade the rest of this core that has come up short and sadly will be dismantled over the next few seasons (or hopefully sooner) as it has given the team the cap relief and, just as important, a sigh of relief.rnrnI for one, believe it is imperative that the player with the C should be gone when talking about a full rebuild. Simply stripping Dion of the captaincy would make things worse in that dressing room, just as the ever shifting San Jose Sharks have shown by making those types of rash decisions with that of Thornton and Marleau. Nothing against Dion, it is my opinion that his skating ability (particularly backwards skating) has always been the thorn that has kept him from truly becoming that elite defenseman that everyone was hoping for. His intense demeanour on and off the ice has been an easy target from his NHL peers to poke fun at, making it hard for anyone to take him seriously. Nevertheless, teams will be calling for him in the offseason and he will fetch some sort of positive return. What that return is will remain to be seen, but I personally am glad that they did not do what was being proposed at the deadline (Weiss, Kindl +??).
There is no rush with this sort of thing as the management staff has been given the green light to take the time needed to do this rebuild right. rnrnSo after Dion, the obvious trade that fans would like to see would be for Lupul. If he could fetch any sort of return that would be a plus, and would rid the team of an oft injured, same old story waste of cap space. rnrnBut things start to get a little more complicated after that. Trading other key players like Bozak and Kessel could come with major scrutiny if not done right, the more important of the two being Phil. The last thing fans want to see is a Seguin type trade where the Bruins added to their depth, but lost a top points player and didn't get a real significant piece in return. In order to avoid this unfortunate circumstance, the trade will have to come at the draft, where Toronto thinks they will get a real significant player with high potential that is yet to be proven at the NHL level. Will they be able to fetch a lottery player? My guess is no, especially since all the teams drafting in those positions are obviously in a rebuild of their own. But is there potential at the 5-15 positions to get a potential player like Phil? In a draft as deep as this, and depending on where players are picked, my guess is that there is potential to do so this year. Even if Toronto had to add a late pick or decent prospect to grab someone in this vicinity, I think they do it.
By getting just one or two players instead of four or five that have occurred in the past with deals like Seguin and Nash, the potential to "win" the trade is higher. If Phil goes on to play for a better team and has unforgettable success, fans will look back and say what did we trade him for? If none of those players ever turn into significant top line defines or forward help for the team, it will be yet another arrow to deflect by Leafs management and more hardships for its fans. rnrnSo saying the Leafs go into the 2015 draft and nobody bites on Phil in that area of the draft. Should they stand pat? Could they hold out for potentially another year, or until the trade deadline next season to try and fetch something reasonable for a 30 + goal scorer? Or could their depth be gained and their chemistry be found in the coming season, making Phil an asset worth holding onto? The Arizona Coyotes have been rumoured of trying to trade Keith Yandle for the past 2-3 seasons, and every year came and went with nothing tangible happening.
They held out for a team to bite on their high price, and they eventually scored big time (or so it looks) with the trade that happened last week. Now the management look like geniuses and the team is shining with potential for the future. In the event that the team suddenly picks up slack next year and gels, with the first line back producing big time points, would that be a bad thing to hold onto? rnrnrnLets consider the Leafs holding onto Phil for a little while longer. Phil may take some flack for being out of shape and lazy, but he is a likeable player. When the team is doing well, nobody has a problem with Phil. He has been the funnest player to watch since Wendel was in his prime and his scoring prowess is something to be admired. He can create plays all by his lonesome and most of his goals are highlight real material. No crashing and banging around the net garbage goals which is how much of the league scores these days, Phil can come in on the rush with either a beautiful one timer pass or a deadly wrester from the top of the circle. If the Leafs only get that Rick Nash/ Tyler Seguin type of trade, I for one will be disappointed. rnrnHere's to hoping for a bright spot in the tenure of the Maple Leafs, as I am going on 25 years as a fan and really don't want to see 50 years with no success as I know many of you out there have suffered through. Good luck Nonis (if you are still around by the draft)!!!