Essentially I see a lot of comments that talk about Leafs fans overvaluing players... and for the most part thats true... if you were to pick up the public sentiment two years ago, you'd think that Darcy Tucker was on the path to a Rocket Richard trophy before he got injured later in the campaign... if you think that's rough... you should have been in Toronto when Domi was still around to listen to Leafschat after games... apparently Domi was carrying those Pat Quinn teams all those years... but I digress: the point of this blog isn't to criticize Leafs Nation (as I am a card-carrying member) but instead to lay down what I believe some of the Leafs trading chips are and what roles they can fill to potential buyers... if fans want to offer trades, I'm more than willing to talk trade. Without further adieu:
Tomas Kaberle - Defense
Cap Hit: 4.25 until 2012
Key Stats: 23gp, 15pts, -6
Kaberle is the Leafs most valuable trading chip and will likely remain so barring injury. He is a top pairing defenseman, and is capable of logging large minutes and contributing in all situations. He is having an off-year by his own standards, which does not show up statistically and sometimes struggles in his own end with bigger forwards, despite being a pretty strong defender.
I'm going with last year's Jeff Carter and a first as an indicator (not the Jeff Carter that is tearing it up now but last year's version)... I'm looking at a first rounder with either a young roster player with upside or a couple very good prospects. I was looking at a Vancouver blog earlier and thought that Bieksa, Grabner and a 1st for Kaberle was in the ballpark... maybe with the Leafs throwing in something else. Kaberle is under contract for 2 more years after this season and is at a bargain basement price.
Nik Antropov - Forward
Cap Hit: 2.05 until 2009 (UFA)
Key Stats: 23gp, 9goals, 18pts, +3
He is versatile as he has lined up at all three forward positions with the Leafs throughout his career... I think he's better as a winger where his lack of footspeed isn't nearly as important... there are few players who are bigger or have longer reach and he continues to use his size to good advantage... for a player without any semblance of wheels, he actually is a pretty strong two-way guy who would be in the top six on any team (Detroit withstanding)
I'm looking at the going rate for top-six guys near trade deadline as a 1st rounder and a good prospect. I think that the Leafs may want to keep him, but I'd rather not see them overpay when his greatest value may be in a trade to a contender. Ideally, he would be a second line wing on a very good team...
Vesa Toskala - Goaltender
Cap Hit: 4 until 2010
Key Stats: 8-6-5, 3.13, .886
No longer the Leafs best asset due to inconsistent play thus far. However, the same was said last year until he started to get hot and took the reigns the rest of the way. If he continues to play where he should, he is a very good goalie and could be a big acquisition for a team with goaltending issues (New Jersey). Sometimes he just looks unbeatable (ask the Flyers) and he is definitely a number one goalie somewhere. Only way he gets dealt is if Burke doesn't think he can cut it as a Stanley Cup caliber goalie. The jury is still out on his durability as he tends to look taxed after 60-65gp...
If he keeps playing well, then his value will continue to rise... as of right now, its much lower than last year but the Leafs wouldn't surrender Toskala as they are without a viable option in net unless they got an offer they couldn't refuse... Likely similar or greater than what the Leafs gave up to acquire him (three draft picks).
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Winger
Cap Hit: 2.11 until 2010
Key Stats: 23gp, 6g, 16pts, +5
Skates very well for a big man, and has a defensive conscience. Has enough offensive upside that he's been able to play a top-six role in Toronto but ideally is a very good third line winger. As such, he becomes expendable with Toronto's new management as he is not a pugilist, nor is he overtly physical. He is pretty consistent and good for 35-45pts with 20g but he'll incite you to throw things at the TV with some of the chances he fails to convert. Could be an important member of someone's third line on the road to the Cup.
On the trade deadline, I'd say a draft pick (2nd, 3rd, 4th) and a good but not highly touted prospect... the rest of the year the Leafs would be happy with the prospect or the 2nd rounder.
Jason Blake - Winger
Cap Hit: 4 until 2012
Key Stats: 19gp, 3g, 10pts, -2
Is a tenacious forechecker and has a huge amount of speed to burn, brings energy and versatility to the rink. Never really fit in in Toronto, takes a lot of low percentage shots, and seems to have lost a lot of the edge to his game that made him successful pre-Leafs. Whines to the media a lot about how he's treated and has made it known that he'd prefer to be elsewhere. The fact that the only player he's shown prolonged offensive ability while playing with is Alexei Yashin should scare just about anyone away.
nil... I'd be stoked if the Leafs could get a late round pick for him... surely someone looking for a shift disturber and some speed on the bottom six would take him... but not now, likely in 2011 when his cap hit isn't so onerous... a likely buyout candidate whose inclusion on the list of trade values is a pipe dream.
Jamal Mayers - Forward
Cap Hit: 1.33 until 2010
Key Stats: 23gp, 1g, 4pts, -10, 42pim
A strong veteran and physical presence. Is very versatile and a very strong skater. Problem is that he has no natural offensive ability and has to use raw determination to get anything. Doubt the Leafs will move him, but some teams during their stretch run could come calling to fill out their bottom six and insert some toughness, leadership, and size into their lineup.
What the Leafs got for Chad Kilger would seem in line. A couple decent draft picks: a second and a fourth or a third and a fifth... some combination thereof that would involve two of 2,3,4,5
Mike Van Ryn - Defense
Cap Ht: 2.9 until 2010
Key Stats: 14gp, 8pts, +1
Was arguably the Leafs best defenseman when he was injured. Is still on pace for 40pts, which is damned respectable from your second or third pairing. Could hold value for teams looking for a puckmover and a powerplay option. Leafs may want to hold on to him should Kaberle be moved as he is a viable option and has played very well in Toronto.
When healthy, he's a top four guy. But he is injury prone and unless he can play health from his return from concussion until the trade deadline, I doubt there will be any suitors. I think a solid prospect and a good pick would be fair value around the trade deadline for a healthy Van Ryn, but personally, I'd keep him in Toronto and with his most recent injury, I doubt he'll be packing his bags.
Pavel Kubina - Defense
Cap Hit: 5 until 2010
Key Stats: 23gp, 11pts, -5
Is a huge physical specimen and knows what to do with it. Has some solid offensive skills including a booming shot and underrated passing ability and can log a ton of minutes. But he seems slow out there and gets victimized by quick forwards (there was a lot of forehead slapping in the Philly game)... to be honest, he seems like a guy who is great when you're up a goal but looks really exposed when you're behind... he knows what it takes to win as he's got a cup ring that will attest and I think he could be a great top four guy on a playoff team.
Top four blueliner with a heavy contract... I'd likely say about where Van Ryn is, in that Kubina's contract makes him less attractive, but his winning pedigree and ability to play long minutes makes him an important cog. I'd think that a team like Pittsburgh would be interested with the rash in injuries on the back end but considering that his contract is longer than just this season, there are cap issues to consider. If the Leafs could get a couple of: a prospect, a solid pick, or a usable roster player with lower cap number, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I wouldn't advocate giving this guy away, but if the right deal came along, I'd take him to the airport for the value it could bring.
Ian White - Defense AND Forward
Cap Hit: 850k until 2010 (RFA)
Key Stats: 12gp, 7pts, +4
Sat for the first 12 games, then dressed as a forward and found he had an aptitude for it. Was a strong forechecker and put his offensive instincts to good use as he had almost a point-per-game as a forward. As a defenseman, makes good passes and puckmoves effectively while possessing above-average wheels and very solid offensive instincts... was a very effective powerplay quarterback with Swift Current in junior (WHL) which makes you wonder if he has more to give. He lacks size, and can be pushed around by larger forwards, despite his increased bulk this year. In previous seasons, he's been prone to defensive zone mistakes, but I haven't seen him make many this time around which could be a sign of maturity.
Never been higher. Fletcher was actively shopping him early on, but teams seemed to be holding out for the waiver wire pickup. With his play since dressing though, he has really increased his value and shown he belongs. I think that his play made both Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen expendable as he was playing both positions with greater efficiency. Personally, I think he adds another dimension of versatility to the Leafs roster, and has enough upside to warrant keeping him around, especially if the Leafs are looking to trade one or more of Kaberle, Kubina and Van Ryn. Back when he was a healthy scratch, I was looking for a fifth rounder... I think his value is higher now, but the only way to cement it is through continued strong play.
Jiri Tlusty - Forward
Cap Hit: 855k until 2010 (RFA)
Key Stats: 9gp, 0pts, -2 (NHL) ; 13gp, 7pts, -3 (AHL)
Was the Leafs first pick in 2006 and is only 20 years old. Was not given adequate ice time last year with Paul Maurice and struggled to find his consistency in his game this year when given the chance... some nights early on, he looked to be Toronto's most dangerous forward, others: he was invisible. He is a good skater who is strong on his skates and he shows some intriguing creativity with the puck, but he looks lost in his own zone and has to find some measure of consistency to stick. I think the Leafs really gimped his development by keeping him with the team last year.
Only way this guy is available is should Brian Burke decide that he's not worthy of a top-six spot in the future and deal him while his upside is still relatively unknown. In my opinion, Tlusty has a future as a 2nd line winger, but could fall to 3rd if he can't find a way to get his offensive game going in the big leagues. I'm sure that he's worth a fair bit in trade as he was only drafted two years ago. In fact, whispers of Jay Bouwmeester trades involving the Leafs would almost have to include Tlusty.
Okay, I'm done. Let me know what you think.