Everybody loves transactions. Most of the time they’re even more entertaining than the game themselves, but for the Leafs at this time of year, they should not happen.
The Leafs are in the rare scenario of having so many damn good players with a sprinkle of some veterans. Their window to win is massive and does not just involve the next couple of years.
Seeing the Washington Capitals spend a second-round pick and a mediocre young player to get a rental defenceman like Nick Jensen is the type of moves an old team does. Their core is all over the age of 30, so why not pay a little more than expected to secure some potential impact players?
When it comes to this current Leafs team, they already made a much bigger impact move just less than a month ago. Acquiring Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings was that move that helps their defenceman group immensely.
One could, of course, argue that this is the time to spend future assets to get rental players. Having their best players underpaid massively for just this year poses an opportunity to keep this current team together and go for it even more.
But that would also force them to be without those picks or prospects that could be useful in a couple years time to replace those players that will be too expensive to keep.
If the Leafs were to completely empty the prospect pool to get a player that might have an impact in the playoffs, they might be completely stuck if they don’t win.
There are a ton of “ifs” here, but it makes the most sense overall for the Leafs to just stay put and go for it with the team that they currently have.
When it comes to the playoffs in the NHL, there are absolutely no certainties. The Capitals iced probably their worst team of the past five contending years for them, the Penguins were able to win two championships in a row on the back of two elite players and a capable blueline group. Weird things happen and the Leafs might just go all the way with Ron Hainsey playing over 20 minutes. Bad example, but that’s the point.
Considering who the Leafs are linked to, it would cost at least one of their top prospects and a high pick. That is a high price to pay when you might need those potential NHL players later on.
No prospect is a sure thing but trading away some potential for a third-line forward or second-pairing defenceman is tough to swallow.
At this time, just accept that the Leafs are one of the best teams in the East and move on. Rental or player with an extra year of term, the impact that they would bring is not worth future strife.
Nothing is certain – the Leafs could just trade away every single prospect and win two championships in a row and everyone is smiling so happy nothing could ever hurt them. But it could also go the other way.
Staying put is the most logical scenario. They are one of the most talented teams in the entire NHL and should act more like it.