February 28 2014 05:35PM
In case you didn't know, the NHL Trade Deadline is this Wednesday, March 5th, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are not expected to do anything of significance. But that's because the dudes running the Toronto Maple Leafs are silly, and let me tell you, the TLN staff would do a much better job. Here's what we'd do come Wednesday:
For me the trade deadline begins and ends with trying to move Joffrey Lupul for an inflated return. There are bound to be teams that have chased Martin St. Louis, and Thomas Vanek and still find themselves in the market for a scoring winger. Some which will appreciate the fact that he's under contract and will acknowledge that they'd spend the same amount on free agency for a similar player. I'd hope for possibly a rental player (ideally a defenseman) and a pick or prospect in return. I wouldn't hold my breath on that.
Similar to Lupul I'd see what I can get for Raymond and Bolland. Both should be worthwhile rentals to some team, and their absence allows D'Amigo, Holland, and Ashton a bit more time with the Leafs. Getting out from under Lupul's deal and walking away from UFAs Bolland and Raymond makes a nice flexible summer where Nonis can potentially blank cheque Stastny.
I'm pleased with the amount of depth on the Marlies and trust in the abilities there to fill in as injuries arise more than I trust the scraps from the Sabres, Oilers, and Panthers, so there isn't much point in adding anyone. I'm also taking the best offer out there for Clarkson if such a thing exists, though with the Ryan Callahan sweepstakes in full effect there's no reason to assume there wouldn't be some interest in Clarkson.
Of course, this is if I was Dave Nonis, my prediction is that actual Dave Nonis will make a couple of Marlies moves and add a questionable depth defenseman for a 4th round pick. The Leafs have already made a number of trades this season and it seems likely that he'll view himself as having been proactive.
I think the Leafs, as they are, will scrape into the playoffs and likely get knocked out in the first round by the Bruins again. If Nonis is fine with that, he should just leave the roster as is and hope for 10 wins down the stretch, then take a look at what's available to him in the offseason. While I don't think he can make a move between now and Wednesday that magically turns the team into a contender, he might be able to tidy up the center situation by unloading Bolland and/or McClement to make some room for Holland.
Other than that the obvious answer is a top four defenceman who can play toughs, like Robidas. But even then, is that enough of an upgrade over a guy like Gleason or Gunnarsson to warrant unloading assets at this point? I think the Leafs' weaknesses are a result of coaching that it's difficult to make a fair assessment of who should stay or go. I'd probably just stand pat and rake in 2 games of playoff revenue.
If I'm Dave Nonis the number one thing I want to accomplish before the deadline is to find out what is the true market for James Reimer. Reimer is a RFA after this year and he has been forced to sit and watch as Jonathan Bernier took over the reins as the number one goalie on the Leafs.
While all of this is happening Drew MacIntyre has put up good numbers with the Marlies this year. If there is enough of a market for Reimer out there Nonis can deal him and ride Bernier the rest of the way with MacIntyre backing him up. At $1.8 million dollars pro-rated taking on Reimer in a trade would be a minor cap hit for any team that makes that deal.
Currently the Leafs are going into the 2014 NHL entry draft with-out a pick in the second and the fourth round respectively because of previous deals. A good way to try and recoup some of those lost picks might lie in dealing Reimer.
It would be nice if the Leafs were to trade for a player who will still be in the NHL next year (ie: not Ryan O'Byrne) but I'm ready for the worst and fully expecting a trade for Andrew MacDonald. If the Ryan Kesler reports out of Vancouver are true, the only thing to me holding Nonis back from sending some ridiculous package for him is that Nonis and Mike Gillis don't like each other, and that's probably a good thing for Toronto since Vancouver's lineup is lined with toxic assets.
Also, would not be surprised to see Nik Kulemin go, though I would love to see him re-sign, he just doesn't fit in the lineup (despite being superior to David Clarkson in almost every way) and probably has some value on the trade market. Against the Islanders Thursday, he played his 400th game as a Maple Leaf. Not a whole lot of recent Leafs have made it to 400: Matt Stajan is the only one who played most of his Leafs career post-Lockout II.
The best thing Nonis can do is sit tight. He's gotten a lot out of this roster already, doesn't have what it takes to give up for a key player without creating a Cody Franson-sized hole in the lineup, and I don't think this team goes from "okay" to "ready to compete with Pittsburgh, Boston and Tampa Bay" with the addition of a minor piece or two.