State of the Toronto Maple Leafs: NHL Trade Deadline Edition

Written by Brian Huddle of LeafsProspects and can be found on twitter at @BrianHuddle.

Holding onto 8th place by one single point over Washington as I sit down and type words onto the screen, the Leafs look to a playoff berth for the first time since the NHL Lockout. However, the stretch drive doesn’t look easy for the Buds as games start to tighten up and the lack of abilities along the boards begin to shine through.

Brian Burke has always been busy since his arrival and Toronto, and with a young bubble team, fans expect much of the same.

It’s pretty easy to see what the Blue & White are after – size, size and more size. Amongst their Top Nine forwards are the likes of Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur and Mikahil Grabovski. Not exactly a group of forwards to strike fear in their opponents.

Beyond that, the goaltending has been a roller coaster of emotions for fans in Southern Ontario, as the duo of Gustavsson and Reimer continue to platoon for starts. Both boast league average numbers in the save percentage department, with Jonas Gustavsson being an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the season.

The defense has seen it’s issues defensively, but are a very deep and young group who push the attack well and can hang their hat on the fact they are one of the Top 5 in points produced thus far in the season. This can be atributed to the resurgence of Captain Dion Phaneuf, the acquisition of John-Michael Liles (who re-signed earlier in the season), the emergence of rookie Jake Gardiner and the continued development of young towering rearguard, Cody Franson.

With the depth Toronto has on the back end, comes the ability to move bodies off of it for upgrades up front. The names of Franson, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson, Keith Aulie and Korbinian Holzer seem to be the front runners in the rumour mill as Brian Burke attempts to parlay a young defender into a Top Six forward with some beef.

So who are these forwards who might be possible?

James Van Riemsdyk

Young, big and skilled, JVR has been in the rumor mill with Toronto for a while. It’s no secret that Brian Burke covets the American forward, and their have been multiple reports about discussions revolving around him and Leafs defender, Luke Schenn. Both are young, with some untapped potential, and bring a need to the respective clubs who would acquire them, however their would likely be some pieces needed to be added on either side.

Rick Nash

Surprised to see him available, but reports suggest that he’s willing to move and has named roughly five teams he’d be willing to go to with Toronto believed to be one of them. Why? He’s a hometown boy. He brings size to the wing and is a legitimate Franchise Player for the Leafs to build around. The asking price is quite possibly very high including, young roster players, top prospects and first round draft choices. But Burke gets what he wants. The question remains: is he willing to pay the price?

Jeff Carter

Reports suggest Carter is on his way out immediately. He’s owed a long contract with a roughly 5.5 Million Dollar cap hit and brings size, two-way ability and scoring down the middle for a team in need. Toronto has had a hole up top since Mats Sundin’s departure, and Carter would fill that hole as another hometown boy. Is Burke willing to take on that long contract for a troubled player? It’s been suggested that the price for Carter is much lower than you’d expect. Might be a case of buying low.

Dustin Penner

Pancake Penner is a lost cause in LA, or so they say. After failing to get anything going since the move to the Kings, LA is more than willing to move him for different help, likely in the scoring department. Would a Clarke MacArthur interest them? Probably. With Penner on an expiring contract it’s a small risk. Burke would likely try to peddle one of his contracts past this season for Dustin, in an attempt to shed some dollars for next year.

At this point it’s a wait-and-see mentality in Toronto, but if I’ve learned anything watching Brian Burke… it’s to expect the unexpected.


  1. Kiper

    February 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I have a feeling all the Leafs will do at the deadline is add Penner.

  2. Bob Dole

    February 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    heard a fun rumor a little bit ago….JVR, Bobrovsky and the 2nd round pick from the kings the Flyers have for Schenn, Franson and Reimer…. Franson being the only player in this trade thats contract is up.
    Philly gets the much needed D, Leafs get the big clutch forward and an tiny upgrade in net… it would be interesting to see but its more of an NHL 12 trade.

  3. Mark Easson

    February 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

    If I was Burke, I’d call up St. Louis to see what it would take to get Chris Stewart. Having an off year and is expected to play on their 4th line tonight.

  4. Big Dog

    February 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Every morning I wake up to see what BB has done or is up to. Pull the trigger for god’s sake. I like Jeff Carter for a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick. Nash
    would be unbeleafable if we don’t have to give away our core

  5. Conrad

    February 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Please don’t part with Jake Gardiner. He always seems to do something productive with the puck and for a rookie has way too much upside. The Leafs will live to regret it if they let him go. CMN

  6. Conrad

    February 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Please don’t part with Jake Gardiner. He always seems to do something productive with the puck and for a rookie has way too much upside. The Leafs will live to regret it if they let him go. CMN

  7. snakebite

    February 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    i wish burke would talk to st.louis and pick up halak bring finally a number one goalie to toronto to keep the gaa down. i sure hope they dont trade gardiner they would be stupid to. Get ride of komi or schenn and maybe add some one like penner and dump some salary. he has been a bum all year so he should come cheap, hes a big body and should bring his game around and if not dont resign him. get rid of macArther and armstrong and bring up kadri and frattin there cheapier and u will have extra salary to resign lupul,franson,aulie and maybe grabs if not askin to much and kuli cause hes a great two way player and will come around next year

  8. mike

    February 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    What ever it takes to get Nash, get him and sign to a long term Deal … He is the Franchise player in need

  9. chris young

    February 21, 2012 at 12:17 am

    leafs better make a move soon because time is ticking. they hold their own faith at this point. with again another loss for Washington tonight its crutial that Toronto gets a win in their next game. Carter woul be the better fit in Toronto just cause if you even get nash your just have to give up way too much for him. Carter, when healthy is a great scorer

  10. glenn murray

    February 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    1. send komisarek to the minors ( free up cap)
    2. trade schenn ( his foot speed is too slow)
    3. sign grabovski
    4. trade for nash. we would have cap room and can give up a kadri, picks, young guys.
    5. fire wilson. players dont respond to him

  11. Brian Glen

    February 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Heloo Glenn, All points are well stated BUT…. How do you know the players don’t respond to RW?? You can’t honestly think that this little losing skid they got going on says that??? Do you? Do you think they responded to him at the start of the season when they were in first? OR is it At the start of 2012 when they’ve been on a tare on the PK?? If you listened to BB’s press conference that was on TSN 1050
    Its not RW it is the players not performing up to par. The players are the reason, NOT RW.
    –done with you…

  12. Bob

    February 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Well its a good thing none of you guys are in control of the leafs or we would have an aging team with multi year contracts, a bunch of underacheiving derilects from the past with no incentive to play.
    Sound familiar?
    I spent 30 years watching the leafs like that.
    Trades are inevitable, but leave the young guys alone and let them learn, lets stop being a farm team for the NHL

  13. Brian

    February 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Well then BOB you 30 year veteran you…. what would you suggest? Let them keep losing and miss the playoffs for another year?? Come on man!! I don’t think I said trade the young guns… did I? Maybe you shouldn’t generalize.
    GO LEAFS GO!! Whatever they decide to do!!

  14. jim

    February 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    This cant be fixed with a trade we need to be sellers and gather more young talent. This is going to take a few years to turn around.

  15. Mat

    February 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

    FINALLLLLY Jim… someone actually knows hockey..

    If the leafs actually make the playoffs, do you really think we are going to beat teams like the Rangers, Bruins, Flyers, Penguins??? No.. If they make it, its gonna be in 7th or 8th place.. maybe.

    The Leafs need to build! You can look to any team that has recently won a stanley cup, they built through the draft and added talent only when the had a legitimate shot at lord stanley. The Hawks built. The Bruins built. Now they are the premier teams in the NHL. Toronto’s pressure to win consistently forces GM’s to trade away young prospects and picks for NHL roster players.

    Sign Grabo.. He plays as if he’s 6-5.
    Re-sign Franson.
    JVR for Schenn straight up if possible

    Komi, Connolly, and Army have close to 13million locked up right now.. when those contracts are moved or over, the Leafs will be able to accomplish alot more.

    Adding Penner or Nash isn’t going to make us a contender this year anyways. That’s why I believe if the Leafs are after Nash, it will be at the draft. When asking prices will be slightly decreased (if he’s available).

    If they trade gardiner.. I can no longer have faith in BB.

  16. Ted

    February 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I can see Burke making a minor move that will mean nothing. Get rid of Wilson, bring in Eakins. The teams not playing for Wilson anymore. Trade Shenn and Kadre for Dustin Brown. Call up Zigomanis.

  17. glenn

    March 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    overhaul the entire front office. its been 4 years. really? Florida goes from 3rd last to contention. Burke has no idea. his free agent signings are a disaster.