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Aboard the Battlestar Galactica • Canada • 2009 Years Old • Male
The Leafs and Nik Antropov head into the All-star break in a pretty big slump.

Good thing? Depends on what you think of tanking, but is it a bad thing? No.

Today we are a lot closer to having a successful rebuild then we were a few short weeks into the season. A high 1st round pick in this draft is SO essential to our rebuild.

Many of us were hyped up over the Leafs overachieving, and in the back of our minds, we asked ourselves, could this team really surprise critics this season? Well the answer is clearly no.

So many factors come into play when considering this team's disappointing play as of late - namely our goaltending which has been abysmal, and now it's looks like Burke is prepared to ride off this season, as he should, and take in the rewards of a high draft pick.

Burke said it best when he said a team should be moving up rapidly or moving down rapidly, mediocrity will get you nowhere, and as it stands we're closer to moving down than up. Meaning Burke is likely selling at deadline.

Among the assets that he'll be able to move is Nik Antropov. A career Maple Leaf, who is known to be very proud to be a member of this team, might find himself being moved out by March. When he was drafted 10th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft many thought that he would be the future 1st line centre of the team - the eventual replacement for Mats Sundin. His early career was hampered with injuries, and he was having trouble putting together healthy seasons.

The 28 year old Kazakh had a breakout season last year after John Ferguson signed Antropov to a very nice 2.15, two year deal(definitely one of his more smarter decisions). To any team that wants him he could be a very valuable addition. Possessing such a large frame he \effectively uses that to his advantage, he's plays physically, and is able to play LW, C, and RW. Not only that, he's known to be a bit of a leader on the ice.

Now as we head towards July, and him still being a pending UFA, his name is starting to pop up in trade rumours. The thing is, his play of the last few months has been off and he certainly can't be helping his trade value. Antropov heads into the allstar break goalless in his last FIFTEEN games. FIFTEEN games, that's a heck of a drought. His plus/minus is also down from the comfortable plus ten he had last season, to a minus eleven.

What's changed? Well his production has taken a HUGE hit since Burke took over, maybe it's the insecurity of his future in the Blue and White, that's bothering his mind? Well either way, that's not an excuse because right now he's not impressing his new boss.

Coming into trade deadline he's arguably the best forward available. Gaborik is on IR and Kovalchuk has recently been given the captaincy of the Thrashers, so regardless of his slowdown since Burke's arrival, Antropov could attract an unexpectedly large return.

We're talking 1st round pick PLUS.

He was connected with the Columbus Bluejackets a few weeks ago, when they were supposedly looking for a new home for their (former) number one goalie Pascal LeClaire. But since then LeClaire's been put on IR, since he's having season ending Ankle surgery.

But I don't think LeClaire would have been the answer to our goaltending issues either way. He's a reasonable young age of 26, has a lot of talent, former 1st round pick, but what really concerns me are his injury concerns. He appeared to have put that injury riddled past behind him last season, when he emerged as a solid number one goalie putting up a ridiculous amount of shutouts, but just as quickly as he took that spot, he had that spot taken from him.

Twenty Year old Steve Mason has taken the NHL by storm by putting up insane numbers, shutting multiple team out, and is believed to be the leading candidate for the Calder Cup. What we need is a Steve Mason-type performance from Justin Pogge. He needs to come in and take the bull by the horns. Trading for LeClaire wouldn't have solved anything, I'd look for younger players and picks in return for Antropov instead.

Columbus could still potentially be a good place for Antropov, as Rick Nash still needs a centre. In Burke's shoes I would take just their 1st round pick for him, thinking that would be enough. A 1st from a playoff bubble team, could really do us some good, if it was around the 14th, 15th, 16th region we could come out with a good tough powerforward like Holland or Kassian. Or if Burke really does want to build from the net out we could select Simon Despres who went 1st overall in the QMJHL draft. Scouts say the 6'4, 214 pound defenseman "will be looked upon more for his shutdown ability over his offensive prowess," but he is known to be a quality puck-moving defenseman. He's a solid two-way threat, who can use his size to his advantage, and he possesses good hockey smarts. Sounds like a player that Burke would like, eh?

Either way a single 1st round pick for Antropov would leave Brian Burke with plenty of choices. That 1st round pick would come at the cost of our "only top six forward" but these are the hard decisions that have to be made by a Manager that's rebuilding. Whether we takes a powerforward, or a two way defenseman, trading Antropov would mean a huge step forward for this team.

It might seem like we're getting ahead of ourselves but that's what's fun about it, exciting times to be a Leafs fan. In the end, considering Antropov's trade value and his disappointing play since Burke's arrival I think he will be wearing a different jersey come March.
Filed Under:   Burke   Kassian   Despres   Leafs   Antropov   tml35  
January 24, 2009 10:21 PM ET | Delete
Great read, excellent ideas. I agree with your opinions, and I think Burke has to really look closely at finding a suitor for Antropov, which wont be too hard. He should be able to command, IMO, anywhere from a 2nd RD Pick Prospect to 1st RD Pick Prospect, depending if a bidding war can break out. We'll probably be looking at the Bruins, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Canucks, really inquiring about his services. Now there is always the option of trading the guy, then lucking out and seeing him test the FA market, where we could sign him again (long term or short term). But, there is another possible option that could come from this, and that is resigning Antropov long term, and reaping the benefit of having an established veteran who can not only be a leader on the ice with his stats, but a leader off the ice, because of his ability to speak Russian. He could be a valuable tool in making some other Russian speaking prospects in our system much more comfortable. Namely, Kulemin, Stefanovich, and Grabovski. It's a tough option, but if we can reap the benefits of a trade, and then have the opportunity to resign him, then that would be the best way to go. LOL. But, if a great trade comes across Burke's desk, there should be no hesitation. 1st RD Plus More, would make me pull the trigger, almost instantly.
January 25, 2009 12:31 AM ET | Delete
Antro needs a new home, a winning team and a coach who knows how to get the best out of him. How about the Sharks? Alexei Semenov could add size and smarts to the Toronto D.
January 25, 2009 2:52 AM ET | Delete
I disagree. Getting a first round pick for Nik means he goes to a contender, thus a poor pick. While not the unstopable force we hoped for years ago, in the right situation he's 20 to 30 points better than on the Leafs. Even if he weren't, a late first rounder is likely to be 1 to 3 years away from helping...so where do the Leafs replace the goals Antropov brings now? A player with his size and good hands does not come along very often, and Burke appreciates both qualities. I suspect Nik has heard the trade rumors and tried to pull back a little rather than attract offers before the trade deadline - he's said before he'd like to stay in Toronto. Of course the big Free Agent pay-day likely has him worrying about his health too. With his injury history, he's likely trying to stay healthy and balancing that with keeping his production up...a tough act to attempt for him I bet.
January 25, 2009 9:29 AM ET | Delete
A 1st rounder for Antropov? Not sure that's what teams would be willing to surrender.
January 25, 2009 12:54 PM ET | Delete
Great read man. Doktordave i've been saying the same thing for a while. If you trade antropov for a 1st rounder from a playoff bound team the best case scenario is that you're probably only going to get a player like him who won't be NHL ready for another 3-4 years. I don't see the point in doing something like that when you need players like him now to help lead the young roster being assembled.Jsaquella, understand the concept of drafting. A draft pick is a chance to pick up the rights to an 18 year old kid who has never had NHL action. This kid still has the right to never even play for he team (see Blake Wheeler). When weighing legit 1st and 2nd line NHL developed players like Antropov against a 1st round pick (even in this year's super draft as tank nation heralds it) any GM of a playoff capable team would pull the trigger in a heartbeat. Its not that we can't get a 1st rounder for Captain Khazak, its that Burke is cleverly holding out for a 1st rounder prospect which is very likely once bidding wars start up this march. On an unrelated thought... how amazing would it be to deal Antropov out as a rental player and get him back at the end of the year?
January 25, 2009 12:56 PM ET | Delete
edit: 1st rounder prospect
January 25, 2009 12:56 PM ET | Delete
RE: Edit.... the plus sign isn't working. supposed to be 1st rounder PLUS prospect lol
January 25, 2009 1:10 PM ET | Delete
Dealing Antropov as a rental then resigning him would be the best thing possible. His big bod, and excellent ability in front of the net, will make him a Holmstrom type player for a playoff team looking for net presence on the powerplay. He is arguably the bets forward available, which is saying alot, considering how far he has come. It's like the Leafs are the proud parents of their kid who is finally about to move out, and your proud to see him go, but your still going to miss him. Hopefully he comes back to visit. :P
January 25, 2009 1:11 PM ET | Delete
edit: body* best*
January 25, 2009 1:28 PM ET | Delete
No team will give up a 1st for Antro without a sign and trade. Is he what gets a team to the cup finals; no. I'm sure he help but 3 months of service is not a first round pick. That's the kind of thing the Leafs were doing in the Quinn era and look what happened.
January 25, 2009 1:48 PM ET | Delete
"I'm sure he help but 3 months of service is not a first round pick." ~ bcoopI believe Keith Tkachuk did that same thing. To ATL for Glen Metropolit, a 1st round pick in 2007, a 3rd round pick in 2007 and a 2nd round pick in 2008. Then the Blues reacquired his rights, and signed him. All ATL got was 3 months of service and a conditional 4th round pick. It's possible, and if a team thinks Antropov can bring them Cup Success, it will be done.
January 25, 2009 2:34 PM ET | Delete
It's all about perception if a GM believes that antopov is the best player available to help his team then a 1st rounder is not out of the question if say 4 or 5 GMs believe this then a 1st rounder plus is not out of the question, it all depends on the market what we can get for him the greater the demand the greater the return
January 25, 2009 4:09 PM ET | Delete
Cody Hodgson was the 10th overall pick in 2008 not Nik Antropov. Im assuming that was a typo.
January 25, 2009 4:16 PM ET | Delete
Bergfors, Zajak for Antropov?????????????????????????bergfors an zajak are both first rounders
January 25, 2009 4:17 PM ET | Delete
NJromano, it was wishful thinking trying to suggest a Antropov for Hodgson deal...lol I wish! I think Antropov should net a first rounder but a first plus not too sure about that. If we get the right teams bidding anything can happen, here is hoping that it can be pulled off.
January 25, 2009 4:19 PM ET | Delete
would you do Zajak for Antro??????
January 25, 2009 4:20 PM ET | Delete
i also think Kulemin is gonna be a great player next year... kid has a ton of skill even tho he isnt putting up crazy numbers. Did he go back to the AHL??????????
January 25, 2009 4:41 PM ET | Delete
yea NJRomano, Burke sent him and Stralman down to the Marlies, so they could get some playing time during the all-star break. He's probably gonna call them back up once the break is over, and yea my bad, it was typo 1998 entry draft not 2008, lol
January 25, 2009 4:51 PM ET | Delete
And I agree with you guys, it would be AMAZING if we could trade Antropov and resign him. And I agree with all your points on Antropov Schenn-sational...definitely a very useful asset to us(like Holmstrom is to Detroit)...I too would expect a 1st and prospect back for him...as there's likely going to be a bidding war for his services...
January 25, 2009 5:28 PM ET | Delete
Nice Blog! Antropov can definately fetch us a good return this year... What about Antropov, Stempniak and a late pick, 7th?? For O'Sullivan and Quick from LA? Or am I just dreaming? :p
January 25, 2009 5:41 PM ET | Delete
NJormano I would be all over a zajac for antropov straight up deal
January 25, 2009 6:08 PM ET | Delete
Yea and a Bergfors, AND Zajac deal would be a reallyyy gooood deal for us.. :)
January 26, 2009 2:08 PM ET | Delete
i want antro on the devils, i think he is gonna be a 70 pt scorer as soon as he finds the right team
January 26, 2009 2:09 PM ET | Delete
any chance of zajak and bergfors for antro an kulemin??????????i want our team to get big an antro is a great addition
January 26, 2009 2:51 PM ET | Delete
I wouldn't give up Kulemin, it wouldn't really make much sense for us, he has a really good future ahead of him(i know your a fan of him NJ) but Antropov could very likely turn into a 70 point guy on a better team. With a very good centre, like Crosby, I wouldn't be surprised to see him put up 35ish goals. I think Pittsburgh is going to inquire about his services this March.
January 26, 2009 3:08 PM ET | Delete
i love how everyone is taking ovechkin over crosby... makes me happy as everyone thought crosby is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. and now ovechkin an malkin are both better players
January 26, 2009 3:08 PM ET | Delete
Message Posted
January 26, 2009 3:14 PM ET | Delete
I think it's kinda the NHL's fault that there a lot of people that don't like him. Ever since he was drafted he was shoved down our throats, and so many people are sick of hearing about him. He's not an interesting person by any means, and his weird on ice antics don't help it. Ovechkin has a great personality, plays a crazy brand of hockey, and is the most lethal player in the world. Crosby's the guy I love to hate. It's pretty funny that arguably two of the top three forwards in the world are Russian, considering how many Canadians there are in the game..
January 26, 2009 3:40 PM ET | Delete
no doubt antropov is going to be traded but he sucks if you ask me. He's a waste of space and I hope to hell the devils don't get him Njromano what are you thinking? Zajac is twice the player Antro is. It wouldn't matter what team he went to he'd still be a metiocre player............
January 26, 2009 3:53 PM ET | Delete
LOL, he's not a mediocre player. Have you seen him play? And I didn't know a 20 scorer was a waste of space, if you don't want him that's fine. And it's not like Zajac's stats have proven that he's "twice the player that Antropov is" Till now they have put up very similar stats, and they are both big Centres, but Antropov can play LW, C, and RW.
January 26, 2009 4:03 PM ET | Delete
What about... To New Jersey: Tomas Kaberle, Nik Antropov and Nik Kulemin, 7th. In return we get Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford and a 1st?.... Still dreaming i guess... Zajac and Staffard are the types of players we need during this rebuild.
January 26, 2009 5:13 PM ET | Delete
stafford plays for buffalo not NJ
January 26, 2009 6:05 PM ET | Delete
yea, but would NJ want Kaberle? Did they find someone to replace Rafalski? I know they thought Vishnevski could be that guy...but I would have to ask for Tedenby and a 1st, if we were dealing with Kaberle..
January 27, 2009 11:31 AM ET | Delete
Antro with Z and Dubinsky thats a serious line with size .
January 31, 2009 4:55 AM ET | Delete
Antropov is not worthy of a 1st rd pick.....this talk is irrelevant bc I am guranteeing that Chris Neil could fetch more than Antropov on the market!
January 31, 2009 11:15 AM ET | Delete
CHamby, Antropov will sell high at the deadline... He's one of the most valueable tradable players at this year's deadline. Maybe Antropov Tlusty For 2010 1st and a decent Prospect?
January 31, 2009 10:33 PM ET | Delete
I definitely wouldn't do that. The 2010 draft isn't as deep as this years is, and that 1st would probably 15thish range. Tlusty former 13th overall pick, who captained his team in the WJ's still has a lot of talent..he's only 20. And if we got a 1st back for Antropov, and we likely will, I would INSIST that it's a 2009 1st. And Antro is offensively A LOT better than Neil.
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