Before I get started, I want to take a minute to bask in the glory of the deals today by Toronto.
Sure we gave up over 1/3 of our goals for this year, but frankly, with Phaneuf now wearing blue and white, this team is now set up to have one of the top defensive corps 1 through 4 for years to come. In addition, there are three outcomes (all liveable) with Giguere, realizing that there is no possible way he ends up worse in net than Toskala was. First, he steps in and regains his playoff MVP form and steals the starting position from Gustavsson (and he will be given this change I am sure), second he plays mediocre and is bought out next year to allow him the freedom to seek out other opportunities where playing time may be more ample, or third, he plays respectable and in a back up role mentors Gustavsson into a menacing goalie for Toronto going forward.
That being said, I figured it would be interesting to evaluate the current (or remaining depending how you look at it!) Leafs on their contributions and performances so far this season and gauge whether they should be available in Burke's to-be yard sale as well as speculate what they could potentially fetch on the market from now until the trade deadline.
The format will be the same as I used last year and is as follows
Player's Name - Grade (based on performance) - Number 1-5 (1 - should definitely not be available up to 5 - should definitely be available) - Whether or not to be moved in my eyes
Tyler Bozak - B- - 1 - Not likely being traded
I in no way see him being moved unless it is part of adding a top line talent going forward to make "a push for the playoffs" (as management will lable it - reality a push to get out of the lottery!). He looks to have the upside to be an integral part of the Leafs going down the road. Flashes of brilliance sprinkled with a dash of inconsistency and rookie mistakes leave one hoping to see him stay, and with proper coaching improve to the point that his potential seems to indicate he can.
Mikhail Grabovski - C+ - 4 - Doubtful
If the right deal comes across Burke’s desk, I don't see him hesitating on moving Grabovski. That being said, the return wouldn't be significant unless bundled with some other spare parts for a team in need of depth. He hasn't played with the same edge he did last year in earning the contract extension, and with 4 forwards off the roster, Grabovski is going to be relied upon heavily to score more often than earlier in the year when he returns from injury.
Phil Kessel - B+ - 1 - Will not be traded
Along the same lines of Bozak, but with more impact, Kessel has shown streaks of dominance, but has also shown signs of being a very streaky player thus far in his tenure with the Leafs. With the exception of the cliché if Gretzky can be traded anyone can, I think it is safe to say Kessel will not be traded, unless someone overpays worse than Burke may have.
Nikolai Kulemin - A- - 2 - Not likely to be traded
Rumoured to be headed to Vancouver for Russia, Kulemin has played a solid game on most nights all year. He has developed into a reliable checking forward with a decent offensive game. What earns him the A- instead of a B is his significant improvement in his own end. Unless packaged together with someone in a larger deal, or unless someone offers a blue chip prospect, I see Burke holding on to this up and coming Leaf.
John Mitchell - D+ - 5 - Not likely to be traded
Mitchell has had very few impressive games this season. Scoring only 3 goals in 34 games is not what Leafs brass had in mind for this young player. He is also a -9 and has shown many times that he isn't very comfortable when the puck is in his own end. He is an energy player, and his ice time should be limited to that of a 3rd liner going forward, and if he has intentions of returning next year, will need to show significant improvement and refine his game to a more simple straightforward style to turn some heads in the Leafs front office. I don't see many situations where a team would pick him up.
Colton Orr - C - 1 - Not likely to be traded
Orr has done what the Leafs signed him at 1 million a year to do. He has dropped the gloves more than any other Leaf, getting in 13 tilts to date. With the youngest team in the league now around him, there seems to be the need for someone to remain with the club and protect them. The departure of Mayers seems to guarantee the enforcer will remain a Leaf (if his slightly high salary already hadn't). Unless a team asks for him specifically in a larger deal that the Leafs see of definite value going forward, expect him to be protecting the team for the duration of his contract.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - B+ - 4 - Likely being traded
Ponikarovsky is on pace to shatter his previous high of 23 goals in a season he set last year as he already is sitting with 19 this season. He also has played with more physical edge than he ever has leading the team in hits. Take that into account, along with the fact he is a UFA next year and will demand a significant raise, one would think that the Leafs will jump at a return similar to that which Antropov received last year, or a prospect with top 6 potential. I don't see him playing with the Leafs past March 3 (if that long).
Wayne Primeau - C- - 3 - Not likely being traded
Has not had much effect on the team in a scoring fashion, or a liability fashion. He has only 6 points, but is also only a -2 on a team that has struggled to keep the puck out of the net. He has been one of the penalty killers, albeit a dismal unit at best and has shown that he can be relied upon in a checking role against players with more offensive skill than he has. He has also brought energy on quite a few shifts in crucial moments. I think Burke will keep his options open, and while I doubt there is much of a market for his services, if a team wants to offer a mid to late draft pick for him, I'm sure Burke would gladly accept.
Lee Stempniak - B- - 5 - Possibly being traded
There is a definite market for right handed shooters who have the ability to score and although he is only on pace for under 20 goals, in the right environment, he has the upside to reach 25. He is a UFA after this year, so carries minimal risk for a team looking for some forward depth or offensive flexibility. If I had to make a call one way or the other, I would probably say he wont be traded, however, if the list of buyers increases closer to the deadline, that could change in a heartbeat.
Rickard Wallin - F - 5 - Will not be traded
In a perfect world, Wallin would be shipped out for a bag to carry pucks with. That's right, not a bag of pucks, the bag to carry them with! He has been utterly useless this year and the only potential of him landing somewhere else would be if Burke insists he goes somewhere as part of a cap dump for another team.
Francois Beauchemin - C - 3 - Not likely being traded
Beauchemin basically played himself off of Canada's Olympic roster after having a tremendous camp before the season started. His -10 indicates he has been somewhat of a liability, however, in large part, that is a product of inconsistent goaltending. He hasn't hesitated to fire the puck on the power play, and has managed 22 points this season, but I don't see many teams liking Beauchemin enough to swallow his contract. If the return was appropriate, I wouldn't hesitate to trade him, but with Burke's obvious loyalties, and the addition of former teammate Giggy, I don't see him going anywhere.
Garnet Exelby - C - 5 - Will almost certainly be traded
All that needs to be said is that Exelby hasn't done much of anything offensively, and has demonstrated why he is at the NHL level by hitting players and being mostly reliable in his own end this season. He asked for his agent to seek out a trade, and will almost certainly get his ticket out of Toronto stamped before the deadline.
Jeff Finger - C- 4 - Not likely to be traded
Although Finger has definite value, his -12 deters from it immensely. Once again, I feel that is more a result of the goaltending than his play, but the stat definitely indicates he needs to work on his in zone coverage. He has continued his hitting of past season with reasonable consistency and limited ice time. If the price tag on his contract wasn't as high as it is, there is little doubt there would be suitors available for Burke to sort through, however, unless it is part of a salary dump, he will remain as a 5th or 6th defenseman past the deadline, unless his contract he is sent through waivers.
Carl Gunnarsson - A - 1 - Not likely to be traded
Gunnarson has been one of the Leafs most consistent defenseman, and will get every shot to prove he can remain one of them going forward. Not as physical as some of the big bodied bruising defenseman on the roster, he still has shown that he will not shy away from physicality being relied heavily upon to kill penalties. His 7 points in a mere 17 games as a defender give him definite value with his potential offensive upside, but I don't see him being included unless a legitimate forward is coming in return.
Tomas Kaberle - A- - 5 - Not likely being traded
Kaberle's offensive stats speak for themselves, as does his -10, (likely a product of Swiss cheese like goaltending). Kaberle is rightfully viewed as an offensive puck moving defender with some flaws in his defensive game. His value is undeniably the highest of any one player on the roster, but I am taking Burke for his word in that he will not ask Kaberle to waive his NTC. So unless Kaberle presents a list of teams he is willing to go to (which I doubt he will), he will be a Leaf past the deadline.
Mike Komisarek - D - 5 - Not likely being traded
Despite the obvious value to the franchise freeing up his cap space would obviously present, I don't see many teams wishing to take on a contract like his unless there is a deal in which dollar for dollar is swapped. He, like Wallin, has 0 goals this season, but has 85 hits in just 34 games to make up for it. His physical nature cannot be underestimated, and has been one of the best Leafs at punishing opposing teams in the Leafs end. To be blunt, I don't see him being traded.
Luke Schenn - C+ - 1 - Will not be traded
Even with the step backwards Schenn took for the better part of the season, he will not be traded. Plain and simple, he still has monstrous upside and dreams of him and newly acquired Dion Phaneuf reaching their potential and protecting the blue line together for years to come is enough to make any GM jealous. Unless there is a serious package involving many players, picks and prospects, or an elite player, Schenn isn't going anywhere.
Giguere and Gustavsson seem to be safe unless something happens where a team is desperate for depth, or the Leafs manage to snag a legitimate starting goaltender.
Looking forward to your thoughts