It’s still over three months until the trade deadline, so why does it seem like trade talk is picking up? Well it’s in anticipation of the holiday roster freeze. You know that thing that always gets built up as something that could lead to roster moves but consistently yields underwhelming results. With Thursday’s blockbuster of Malcolm Subban going from Chicago to Buffalo for future considerations I guess we can’t say December will be completely quiet though.
As for the idea of the Leafs needing to upgrade, it’s a hard concept to wrap our heads around during a 15 wins in 17 games stretch, and other than maybe knowing that Leafs fans have fallen out of love with Justin Holl and Nick Ritchie, even their underwhelming seasons don’t create dire gaps in the Leafs lineup. Still good teams don’t stand pat for the playoffs. The Leafs might be looking great at the moment, but it’s still early December and the regular season drags on until May, there will be highs and lows, and injuries will be inevitable as well. The same 20-25 guys we’ve seen so far are not necessarily going to be the guys playing in Game one of round one.
So, with all of the obvious things stated, the question I’ve asked of the TLN Contributors is…
What is the biggest need on the Leafs roster right now and how do you fix it?
They need their Marc Gasol. A strong, smart player who will come in at center and take the shutdown duties. For the Leafs, this could relieve David Kampf to be the 4th line center he’s probably meant to be, or move him to the wing and allow Engvall to move down to the 4th line or the press box.
I’d say their biggest need right now is another top 4 defenseman to play alongside Muzzin. Holl’s played a bit better lately, but he still feels like the weakest link on an otherwise deep team, and since they don’t seem to want to put any of Dermott, Sandin, or Liljegren in that role, it’s probably going to need to be addressed via trade. Even then, it’s not a pressing issue, so it shouldn’t be something they overpay to do, but it’s probably their biggest weakness at this point.
The team needs focus. They need to be aware that this winning streak isn’t enough and everything they’ve accomplished so far will be forgotten if they fail out of the playoffs again.Thankfully it seems Sheldon Keefe is already a step ahead of this, not letting the team get complacent and even stating that he didn’t think they dominated the game following the 8-3 win over Colorado. This team needs to remember that this is the NHL and taking their foot off the gas for even a moment is all it takes to get left behind.There’s always room for improvement, and while the Leafs may be able to tinker with the roster a bit before the trade deadline this group has shown they can beat the league’s best. The real challenge is focusing on the end goal and showing they can do so when it matters most.