Various reports over the past few days suggested the Leafs were “in play” for former Flyers captain Mike Richards.
I’m sure that was the case. Not because I have any inside knowledge. It just makes sense that Burke, looking for elite forwards—especially one who can play with a chip on his shoulder—would want in on the Richards deal.
Who did the Leafs offer? Too many sources have mentioned Kadri and Kulemin for me to believe that is not accurate. In the end, the Kings “won” (if you believe that giving up a lot of emerging young talent for a first-line guy with issues in Philly is a win) the Richards sweepstakes, by giving the Flyers a good two-way forward in Simmonds and young Brayden Schenn (who the Leafs also wanted, but had no way of getting).
What other pieces (draft choices going to Philly) may or may not have been involved, I don’t know. But I don’t doubt for a moment the Leafs wanted to make this deal.
As it is, they came away from the draft with Liles, a nice offensive defenseman to replace Kaberle but not someone who will be a strong defensive addition, by all accounts and draft choices who may excite the fan base (or not) several years down the road.
In truth, it was not exactly the kind of impact fans hope for from Burke, who talks a big game and plays the media to get his messages out leading up to the trade deadline, the draft (every year we hear he plans to “move up” significantly and three years in a row it hasn’t happened) and free agency. But what else could he do? He has limited resources to trade, and had already traded away what would have been lottery picks for Kessel. Most fans seem to like the Kessel deal (and the Kaberle trade and what we got from the Bruins) so we can’t really complain.
I believe that Kadri is available for the right price. I sensed this was the case before the draft (click to see the earlier post) and I still feel that way now. He is a talented young player but I just wonder if, fair or not, the Leafs are as pleased with his progress as they had hoped they would be by now. To me, he is still a very young player who loves being a Maple Leaf, so it would be a shame to give up on him so soon. But when you keep hearing things (just as we heard that the Flyers were willing to move Carter for so long) you just know there is probably something to it.
As for Kulemin, he is a guy I’ve loved seeing develop here the past three seasons. He is just on the precipice of being a really fine all-around winger. I would be sad, as a fan, if he was moved—just as he is reaching his prime years.
Your thoughts? Would you be OK with moving Kadri to get better, quicker? And what about Kulemin—should he be a keeper or is he, too, someone you might have to give up to improve the team?