And hear we are, just over a week after the 5-1 loss to the Coyotes. A week ago we had newspapers and radio shows picking out who was going to be the new GM of the Leafs as everyone had assumed his days were done. Since then the Leafs have picked up 5 out of a possible 6 points and for the time being it seems as though that is all but a distant memory……For now. The parade has been re-booked for Younge St and everything is back on track. Well not exactly, that was a bit of an exaggeration but its funny how a week changes so much. There isn’t much to talk about at this point in time in Leaf land so we all know that that means trade talk must be going on. Let’s face it; it can’t be hockey season without some sort of Leaf drama even if it is speculation. I realize when the Leafs aren’t riding high, it seems that every name is on the list to be traded out of town but there are three names that are flying around above all. Pavel Kubina, Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin seem to be the names that are making there way around the rumor mill the most so I’m going to look at all three.
First off Kubina. Now I know there is some sort of no trade clause worked into his massive contract, Ferguson wouldn’t do a large expensive contract without one but of the big three defensemen on the team I would say Kubina is the guy that would most likely waive his. Kubina doesn’t have a real tight link to the city and I get the impression that if management came to him with a trade to a contending team and he was still going to be paid his too much money I don’t think he would have a problem with leaving. Kubina before getting hurt was playing well for the Leafs, finding the scoring touch that he seemed to have lost last year and playing a good defensive game. Every team that has a shot at the cup or a playoff spot for that matter would love to have a guy like this (if he continues his good play) for a playoff drive. A guy like Kubina could probably net the Leafs a first rounder to a defensive desperate team or at least a solid prospect and a mid round pick but most importantly it would be about 5 million off the books for whoever the Leafs GM is to work with.
Next Darcy Tucker, Tucker is a guy that everyone who is going into playoff battle would love to have. He signed an extension with the Leafs last season which has its good and bad for any potential trade partner. Good in that he won’t just be a rent a player so whatever you give up will net you someone that is going to be there for a while. Bad in that it’s just over 3 million in salary that would have to be paid out for the next little while, with that being said that team that I keep hearing linked to Tucker is Calgary. Calgary has cap space available so the Leafs wouldn’t have to eat any salary from the Flames and they have picks available and a prospect Mikael Backlund who they took in the first round last year. Stay tuned!
Last but not least…..Mats Sundin. To be realistic Mats isn’t going anywhere unless the Leafs are well out of the playoffs and it’s the last minute of the trade deadline, but based on what the Blues got for Keith Tkchuk, the Flyers got for Peter Forsberg at 80% and the Oilers got for Ryan Smyth last year at the deadline the Leafs would be foolish not to look at what would be offered. As of this moment the teams that I’ve heard about as possible destinations are Vancouver (although not recently) and there was a report that Detroit would be interested. Really I think any team that is looking for that extra edge would be interested in Mats for the playoffs if he was to become available which would work in the Leafs favor as a bidding war could begin. Mats is another Leaf with a no trade clause attached to his contract, but Mats is a smart guy and I’m sure he realizes that the door to win a cup is quickly closing and the chances of doing it in Toronto at this point are slim to none at all. With that being said if the right situation presented itself I’m not sure he would be completely against waiving the clause for the chance at a ring. Mats also is a free agent at the end of the year after signing for only one year so the door isn’t closed to him coming back in the summer, perhaps with a Stanley cup ring in his pocket.
I know that the idea of a re-building process is something that Leaf ownership doesn’t even want to consider but let’s face it this team has some attractive parts that other teams can use and if done correctly this doesn’t have to take 5 to 10 years to happen……See this years Flyers! I have been a Leaf fan since I knew what hockey was and have not seen a cup winner in my 20 years of watching hockey, if a serious re-building plan and I stress the words serious and plan are put in place I can deal with 2 or 3 years of building towards something that could be special.