We’ve been talking in this space the past few days about the Maple Leafs and, well, let’s call them summertime “possibilities”. You know, things the Leaf brass may consider, or may actually do, between now and early July.
It's not always the case, but sometimes there is a catalyst, a trigger, an event that shakes the decision-making tree and pushes a management team to do something. Sometimes, the team you are pulling for (in our case, the Maple Leafs) starts the chain reaction; at other times, they respond to something a competitor does.
At the annual regular-season trade deadline, we often talk in terms of GM’s making moves early (as Burke says he likes to do), whereas others wait and are perhaps more likely to react to what competitors in their Division or Conference may do to try and bolster their line-ups. But this time of year is special. All kinds of things can happen, because of the confluence of events: the trade door opens wide, the draft is this weekend and of course we are also only days away from free-agency as well.
Things are already, albeit slowly, beginning to shake out around the league. in the past few days, we’ve see a few things that may be triggers. Tim Thomas wants a year off (or at least he wants out of Boston); Detroit traded Brad Stuart back to the Sharks (at least his rights) and the Sharks have now signed him to a three-year contract at what passes for, by modern-day standards, a hometown discount. The Preds have traded Lindback to the Lightning, so that means a good young goalie is off the market, and the Lightning now have different needs than they had a couple of weeks ago.
Clearly, some big fish are out there and available: Luongo absolutely is being actively shopped. Pittsburgh's Staal is as well, I believe. Is Patrick Kane? What about Kiprusoff? Are Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan still in play? Are the Leafs really in on Schultz, the young ex-collegian drafted by the Ducks?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because that doesn’t touch the draft or free-agency. (On that note, where is Parise going—Minnesota will be offering mega-dollars, but will the young winger stay in Jersey or look to L.A. or Detroit? Could the Leafs possibly convince him to come here?)
So many questions, and the next few days will provide at least some of the answers. It’s a fun time to be a fan (maybe the best time of the year) but here's what I’m wondering: what will be the first-step that triggers action—or a reaction—from the Maple Leafs.
If the Leafs act first, what do you anticipate will be the first move Burke makes? Will it be before the draft? On the draft floor? Or will he wait until the draft is done and, after the dust settles, pull the trigger on a deal at that point? Will it be big, or something more modest? And who will be the first Leaf dealt?
Let me know what you’re thinking. It’s a wide-open field right now. But something has to give first, eh?