Heading into the so-called “off-season” (the Leafs have been in it for many weeks already…), it’s clear that Burke wants to do what he can to one or both of a) grab an elite skill top-six forward and also b) a pure front-line center.
Those two priorities may be one and the same player, I realize. But I’m sure he wants to get two big-time forwards between now and the playoffs next April. (We’d all like lots of things, I’m sure, and we often don’t get what we want. But ideally, yes, they want two elite guys in place, I’m thinking.)
The draft won’t deliver one of the above, at least not for the next two to three years. And as they, arguably, have no one right now “in the system” who fits the above need on a short-term basis (perhaps Kadri, Colborne down the road?), my sense is Burke knows he needs to either make a trade or grab a free-agent on July 1.
We all know the available free agent and RFA names and Leafland was aflutter this past weekend with the mere notion of Brad Richards being available in a few weeks. (I’ve posted in the past that Richards has not a lot of appeal for me. A fine player—elite, really. But now in his early 30s, he has played a lot of hard hockey over the years, and between that and injuries and his likely need/demand for a long-term deal, well, to me it’s not the best solution.)
But I won’t cry if he signs here (I think he’s going to the Rangers), because he can play and make people around him better, something the Leafs need. (Now, if we could get a Brad Richards from five years ago, there you have something that excites me…)
But my question for the day is this: The Leafs have those two late first-round round draft picks in a couple of weeks. They can be flipped for either a higher pick, or a player who can help right now, from a team who, say, needs to shed salary.
But what if that’s not enough to get what Burke wants or needs? Who do the Leafs have to deal?
The name that jumps out for me is Kadri.
I can’t help but think that, as unfair (and I’ve written about this in the past) as fans and management have been in their public expectations of him over the past 24 months, I wonder if the bottom line is that the Leafs are ready to move him?
Not that they don’t like Kadri. He’s getting better, playing with more of an edge, and showed shown skill, which everyone knows he has, in his second stint with the big team.
But at this point, perhaps he’s an asset, a proverbial round hole that can be moved for a square peg on a team that needs more square pegs—as opposed to being a centerpiece guy for the future.
My question for you is: do the Leafs keep and build around Kadri and his skills (just last summer Wilson sounded like the guy could be his number-one center; suddenly we were being told he needed to get bigger and stronger back in the minors, which is presumably what he spent last summer working on…).
Late in the season Kadri was a winger, and
opined that he may be a better fit there. On a team dying for talented centers? Wilson
So is he in play, or is he an untouchable cornerstone?
Would you move him as part of a bigger package (with, say, those first-round picks) to get someone head-turning right now?
What’s the move?