Well, I have been away for a while and have just decided to rejoin the world of Hockeybuzz.com. As most of you know that know me, I am a Leaf diehard. We saw our Buds get off to a rough start this season but they have been heating it up as of late and now sit a mere 2 points from the 8th spot in the east. I thought I'd drop a few interesting tidbits that have been bouncing around my head of late as a sort of 'dip your toe in' blog after being away so long.. let the fun begin.....
So first, what will the Leafs do come deadline day? With no first round pick (alla the kessel trade) will they be looking to land one? If so how will they get it? I mean a week into the season everyone was ready to tear the team apart even further then it already had been done but now... is it maybe in the right direction after all? Let us assume Burke will be after a #1 pick via trade at the deadline. What could he possibly move to obtain that pick? Kaberle is likely the tops in value that can be expended but do you want to move him? He sits #2 in defencman points, and still has a palletable salary. The other thing is, Kaberle has a no trade and with the team looking like it will now challenge for a spot in the post season, will he want to move? Not likely. He has invested all these years losing and now that they may have a shot why would he want to bail. If he really is blue and white at heart he'll want to be along for the ride, it can only get better as the next few years go by.
So with Kaberle out of the question who else could bring in a top pick? Maybe a package deal. Toskala, Ponikarovsky and Stajan together may draw a top pick. However for a real splash, assuming the season goes along the same path it has to this point, Carolina will have he #1 pick (of course assuming Bettman pulls their heavily weighted ball). They don't need Toskala with Ward there and they likely wont want to give up the first pick for whatever the Leafs can provide either. So that leaves Burke having to look lower. First he would have to find someone that wants a goalie. St. Louis perhaps will have a decently high pick and just may be interested in Toskala and a package of players the Leafs can offer. Heck if they keep bringing in former Leafs the Blues will resemble the Leafs of past. Steen, Coliaicovo, Boyes... could you add Stajan, Poni and Toskala to this? Would you even want to? Is it worth your top 6 pick? Debatable...
Biggest Question of all leading into the second half... If you are contending for a playoff spot and have missed for 4 straight years, don't you want to ice the best team possible to make a push even if the odds of winning Lord Stanleys prize are undoubtedly impossible?
And if the answer is yes, then why trade the players who got you there. Perhaps the better idea is to resign Stajan even if it means hell be as low as the 3rd line once top prospects Kadri and Bozak come into their own. Personally I'd keep Stajan. Matty has heart and is Blue n White to the core not to mention that he is looking almost like a point a game player while matched up with Kessel on his wing. Yes as a 3rd liner he won't have Kessels gun at his disposal but don't be so quick to forget the defensive mastery Stajan has provided in the past.
So, If you take Stajan out of the equation it Leaves primarily Ponikarovsky and Toskala as trade bait. They alone wont bring in a top 6 pick however possibly a 2nd rounder. There is of course a few other names you could drop such as Hagman and Stempniak but with Hagman looking like he can be a 30+ goal guy and Stempniak now showing the work ethic he was brought in to provide, do you want to move these guys? They could deffinately be part of the future even as 2nd or 3rd liners. And as for the goalie issue, trading Toskala at the deadline would mean venturing into the playoffs with the Monster as your #1. A rookie who just may be the future but to this point Gustuvsson has shown flashes of brilliance but accompanied them with flashes of retirement due to heart issues. Who knows if that would leave you with Joey Mac as your #1 in the post season. Although he has done an admirable job when called upon, he isn't the Monster or Toskala for that matter.
One thing is for sure, this is shaping up to be one of the most interesting second halves in recent history... at least for Leaf Nation.
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