Trade Deadline Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: 27-7-8, 62 pts, 10th in East, 4th in Northeast

Status: Active Buyer/Seller

It’s a crazy time to be a Leaf fan these days, as the team has suddenly come alive in the wake of GM Brian Burke’s latest rash of trades. The Leafs got an early jump on the trade deadline, making several huge trades and setting some pretty steep market prices for the trades that will follow. Forward Kris Versteeg was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers for a first and third round pick in the 2011 Draft, helping to re-stock the Leafs’ supply of missing draft picks. Defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle were dealt as well, as the Leafs picked up both draft picks and some impressive young talent in return.

Forward Joffrey Lupul, defenseman Jake Gardiner and a conditional 2013 pick were sent to Toronto from Anaheim in exchange for Beauchemin, while Kaberle was sent to Boston for hulking young center Joe Colborn, the Bruins’ first round pick in 2011 and a conditional 2nd rounder. Despite these three significant moves, Burke has said he’s not done making moves yet.

At the top of his list of priorities is adding a defenseman to help replace some of the minutes lost with Kaberle and Beauchemin’s departures, while he would certainly be interested in acquiring another top-six forward, specifically a number one center. Florida pivot Stephen Weiss is an attractive option for the Leafs, given his low cap hit and the fact that he’s a Toronto native. However, if the asking price is too steep, Burke has proven he can walk away if he is pushed beyond his limits.

Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles has been rumored in connection with Toronto, and while his talents could certainly be used in the Leafs’ current push for the playoffs, his acquisition would make little sense, as his cap hit is almost exactly as large as Tomas Kaberle’s was, and he’s signed through 2011-12. Plus, he’s 30 years old, and Burke has yet to bring in a skater over the age of 30 during his tenure as Leafs GM.

Dustin Penner is another name that Burke has been rumored to have interest in, given that he acquired the big winger when he was managing the Anaheim Ducks, only to have him spirited away via offer sheet by the Edmonton Oilers. His cap hit is less than friendly, but the Leafs have plenty of space to work with, and could certainly use a proven power forward like Penner. If Penner could be had for one of the first round draft picks that the Leafs picked up from Boston or Philly, don’t be surprised to see Burke pull the trigger. Clarke MacArthur>

While there haven’t been many Leafs that have been considered untouchable through this season so far, one Leaf that has been great for the team is Clarke MacArthur, who leads the team in points. Mac has found some great chemistry with linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin and the three have been one of the most effective units in the NHL this season. MacArthur was signed to a one year deal this summer, and will be expecting a significant pay raise. There have already been offers made for the winger, but Burke has said he would prefer to re-sign him. In an interview last night on Hockey Night In Canada, Burke explained that it wasn’t so much a “sign him by the deadline or trade him”-scenario, as it was a case of listening to the offers made for him and trading him if there was an offer that was too good to pass up, provided that MacArthur and his agent can’t come to an agreement with the Leafs.

Len robinson
Sports Pundit member

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