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GM for a day: who would you bring to Toronto?

If we’re honest, we all understand that Leaf fans have a (unfair?) reputation for wanting to trade fourth-line guys  that we don’t want in return for an elite player. That may be the way some of the fan base thinks, but by and large I don’t feel that really represents the “thinking” of long-time Leaf observers.

Those who follow the team closely and know its background understand that, generally speaking, you have to give something to get something, as the saying goes.

I guess my question today is:  if you were in Burke’s shoes, who would you be looking to bring in this season, before the deadline.  Down the road, who would you have your eye on as a free agent, or potential trade acquisition as the Leafs look to become serious players in the Eastern Conference?

It would be good if we could be realistic here.  I don’t see us acquiring Giroux, Toews or Doughty, for example.  But who would be on your “have to at least check to see if this guy could possibly be available” list?

I know Ryan Clowe—who I’ve written about here before as a guy who continues a nice Newfoundland tradition in the NHL—is on the radar of some Leaf followers. But his GM says he's not leaving town.  That said, who else might be someone you would love to see in the blue and white—not just for the rest of this season, but for the next few seasons?

You don’t even have to say who you would send the other way.  Feel free, but we can assume that we will have to give up something to acquire guys who will add to the puzzle here.  Hey, maybe Burke manages not to give up roster players or good draft choices/top prospects.  It’s happened before.  But realistically, GM’s are not going to take what the Leafs don’t want.  They want to build their own hockey clubs with valuable assets either right now, or for the future. 

I’m guessing Schenn, Gunnarsson, Grabovski and MacArthur are indeed (not just because of rumours, but because it makes sense) among those whose names have been in trade talks, along with Kadri, who I feel has never been off the table.  But again, my focus today is on who you would like to bring in, not necessarily who goes the other way.

Give it some thought and let me know.  While we know the Leafs are building with the idea of being a contender year-in and year-out, it’s also clear they feel an urgency to make the playoffs this season.   I believe they can make the playoffs with their current roster, because the East is so wide open and it’s entirely likely that Ottawa and Florida cannot maintain their first-half pace for the rest of the season with their limited rosters.  (Ottawa has some nice players, but a lot of what they have achieved has been through determination—and good on ‘em. That’s what the Leafs need to show every night, too.  But I just wonder if they can keep it up the rest of the way.  I’d be shocked if the Panthers hang in there but I guess we’ll see…)

Bottom line, the playoffs in the East are up for grabs.  But I’m guessing Burke and company would like a little roster insurance, just to make sure there is no slippage in the final weeks of the season. 

No pressure, eh? It’s only been 8 years.  Who’s counting?

Send your thoughts along…


  1. To start...Colin Greening.

    A freakish combination of size and speed...fights too:

    That's Jon "Nasty" Mirasty that he is up against..a pure minor league pugilist.

    The second fastest guy in the all star game...6'3" 215, soft hands (11 goals 15 assists)...and can fight decently.

    He will also stand in front of the net and bump goalies:

    What potential...I'll try to think of something more realistic but he does give the puck away so maybe there is a chance.

  2. If Minnesota continues to sink...what about Kyle Brodziak?

    13 goals and 13 assists so far, which is better than many players. UFA at the end of the year so he might not cost the moon or mess up future plans.

    He has some size and good face off skills.

  3. You mentioned some big names not likely to move, Michael. But what about one who just might: Iginla? Long shot, yes, but would absolutely love to have him here. I think he has a few good years left and would be a good fit here. It would re-energize his game (not that it really needs it) and maybe (depending on who goes the other way), provide that missing piece. There's a history of Leafs GMs fleecing Calgary! Other than that, I would try to make a deal for any of the Staal boys. Wishful thinking.


  4. Hey DP, we're GM for a day...You're thinking outside the box, which is always a good thing!

    Caedmon...We're probably not alone in wanting Iginla...I just wonder if, at this point, Feaster is so determined to make the playoffs this season that Iginla is not going anywhere! Thanks...

  5. Gotta agree with Caedmon up top with Iginla - I was never quite sure why the Leafs weren't mentioned as a potential destination back when everyone thought Iggy was a stiff breeze away from being traded. Would love to see him here on our otherwise young team.

    Forget who I was reading, but I saw Pierre-Alexandr Parenteau's name some up recently. A strong pass-first winger with some scoring talent of his own, one that could likely be taken at a relatively low price from a struggling Islanders team might help tremendously this year without costing us 2 top guys.

    But if I had my druthers? Zach Parise. Not likely to move by trade deadline, but that's a player we could build on for a strong push in the EC next year.

  6. I want to start off by saying I understand this guy is as close to untouchable in St Louis as that word can mean, but if I was GM for 24 hours I would spend most of that time asking about David Backes, I think he would be such a great fit for the Leafs model, Age, under 5 mill per year (barely), only 4 years left after this (not crazy like Carter or Nash) and a No Trade Clause, that according to Capgeek, hasn't kicked in just yet. just my 2 cents

  7. If I were GM for a day.....

    The leafs need to pull off only 2 trades to get them over the hump:

    1) Trade Luke Schenn straight up for James Van Reimsdyk (hate to see Luke go but if Philly will do it we need to get this trade done!
    2) A package to Columbus for Rick Nash or a package to Anaheim for Getzlaf? Either or will Columbus the pkg. would be Grabovski, McArthur, Komisarek, D'Amigo and mid-round pick; a pkg. similar for Getzlaf plus Lombardi

    * the key is not giving up Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Aulie and Blacker!

    Lupul Bozak Kessel
    JVR Colborne Nash
    Kulemin Connolly Frattin
    Brown/Crabb Steckel Armstrong

    Phaneuf Gunnerson
    Liles Gardiner
    Franson Aulie

    *Nice Line-up!!

    Take care,

  8. Steve W...I wouldn't argue about any of the three players you cite. I have no idea if any would be realistic to go after, but this is the day for fun possibilities...

    LeafluvrCC...Backes is a very interesting name (and a very nice player...)

    Anon/KR...Those are big fish. I realize there has been much talk about JVR. I'll still be stunned if they move him...As for Nash or Getzlaf, I just wonder if it wouldn't take a bit more to get players of the quality....Those guys, as you know (that's what you want them!) are real difference-makers. Thanks for the post...

  9. Leafs penalty kill has improved, but it still needs work and the right bodies. I'm echoing this sentiment from another article I read a couple weeks ago, but a shut down forward is what the Leafs could use. The article mentioned two players, Travis Moen and Samuel Pahlsson. Two guys I think that could be had for pretty cheap I think. I thought Florida's move to sign John Madden was very smart - a veteran presence who could play shut down hockey and has tons of playoff experience.

    I'd love a guy like David Bolland from Chicago, but that's just wishful thinking. It was amazing watching him frustrate the Sedins last year in the playoffs.

    If there was another area that I think is weak, it's goaltending. Gustavsson's been playing great lately, and I think Reimer still has the goods to be even better, but I don't feel there's a lot of confidence there. I'm dreading a goaltending collapse down the stretch.

    On the offense front, I think the the Leafs are fine.

  10. Moen and Pahlsson are your solid workers bees, for sure, Hogie. (Wouldn't everyone like Bolland!) Good stuff, thanks.

  11. At this point I feel the Leafs would be wiser to bring in a 2nd or 3rd tier kind of player rather than a top tier player. The Leafs desperately need to rid themselves of Mike Komisarek, and any potential "big" trade that doesn't involve Komi moving the other way to balance the salaries would be a mistake.

    I would prioritize shipping Connolly, MacArthur, or Lombardi out if that would lead to a better chance at keeping Grabo. We don't need to make a big splash at this year's TDL. Trade a few current assets away for a bit more youth, then resign Grabo and possibly make a splash in free agency in the off-season.

    I think there are several playoff teams that would take a Connolly or MacArthur type player for depth heading into the playoffs in exchange for less-than-top-tier prospects and/or late 1st or 2nd rnd picks. Locking up Grabovski should be the number 1 priority this summer.

    That said, I anticipate a move will be made and unless Burke pulls off another trade in the ilk of the Phaneuf, Beauch, or Lebda trades, I really don't think I'll be overly excited. This team is not going to be able to get the unicorn needed to make a deep push into the playoffs, but being patient will get us further in the long run.

    I would also love to see an acquisition in the Pahlsson range, which can definitely be had for cheap, and would improve this team greatly.

  12. Solid post Darryl, thanks. Pahlsson is a popular guy today!

  13. Long suffering Leaf fanJanuary 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    If I was the GM I would be looking for someone like Dan Maloney without overpaying. In the spring of 78, Mr Gregory made the right deal in making his team more competitive for the playoffs, but like a compulsive shopper he overpaid. Errol Thompson and a second would have been steep, but acceptable when you consider how deep the Leafs went that year. So consideration should be given to history when making any transaction that will involve young players, prospects, and draft picks. We do not want to repeat the Maloney-Thompson, and two first; or for that matter, the Randy Carlyle and George Ferguson for Dave Burrows deal that set (in my humble opinion) a developing contender back.

    I say if the price is too steep, stay the course and let this team take its lumps and see what's available on July 1st.

  14. I'd love to see Getzlaf or Nash added to this team but I doubt it happens and it would cost a lot and would rather the Leafs let young players develop and see how they fit into the future than trade them right now.

    Other players the Leafs could try to add at the deadline to make a playoff push include Boyes, Pahlsson, or even Wellwood back from the Jets. All would probably come at low prices, and the Wellwood thing is just because I always liked him when he was with the Leafs and despite his bad reputation, has worked hard to try and shed that reputation and has played well for the Canucks, Sharks and Jets, and his having his best season producing 30 points. All are pending free agents so they could just be cheap rentals who could come in and help this team out.

    Two other guys I like but their teams would have to fall way out of playoff contention and get desperate to trade them are Morrow from Dallas and Clutterbuck from Minnesota. Both are hard hitting, hard working guys who can also chip in offensively so they'd be great to have on this team.

  15. I think the Leafs priority at this year's trade deadline should be clearing cap space and shedding players that the Leafs don't need for prospects or draft picks. I'd be thrilled to see them bring in a top-end talent like Nash or Getzlaf, but I'd be more thrilled to see the Leafs give some of their young players more time to develop and see if they can make the playoffs with what they have. The Leafs don't know exactly how much of an impact guys like Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Blacker, and even guys like Schenn, Franson and Aulie could have on their future, so keep them all in the organization for now and let them improve. No rush.

    Like I said, I'd rather see some spare parts dealt for prospects and picks rather than trading the farm for one top end guy right now. Guys like Connolly, Komisarek, and Armstrong all do bring aspects to this team that I like and that management likes, but let's face it, they're all just here temporarily until other younger players push them out of a spot on this team. I especially like Armstrong, but I do feel that younger players who have more of a future with this team have played well in place of him.

    Even Macarthur has become expendable, as he has not played as well as last year but is still having a good year (I'd rather see the Leafs keep him around a bit longer but I wouldn't be shocked if he was traded, would rather use him in a package down the road for a better top 6 forward as some teams may still view Macarthur as a top six forward).

    Connolly would gather some interest; I could see him bringing in a similar haul as Versteeg last year.

    Komisarek has a large contract and seems to be unmovable so I dealt he gets dealt (which wouldn't anger me our defense plays better with him in the lineup, but he does have a large cap hit for a few more years and younger players are pushing for a spot, so it would be nice if he was dealt). I don't know what he could bring in, a buddy of mine who is a Habs fan said he would do Gomez and Subban for Komisarek (which would be made cap compilable by the Leafs waiving Gomez) which obviously won't happen, but the point is if the Leafs do trade Komisarek another somewhat overpaid player would most likely be coming back (hopefully one with only a year left on their deal). Who knows, Burke has made some amazing deals with players with bad contracts, and Komisarek is having a good year, so I could see him getting a decent to good return on Komisarek if somehow he got a deal done.

    Armstrong's value right now is very low due to his injuries the past year and a half. But if he comes back soon and stay healthy, he could gather some interest by the deadline. Would be a good addition to a contending team, so I could see him getting a decent pick or prospect from a team looking to add some depth up front.

    Trading one or more of these 3 would open up cap space as well as potentially bring in young players who could help this team in the future, and I don't see the loss of any one of these players affecting the Leafs' playoff hopes, so if I were GM and I could get a good return for one or more of these players, I'd make the deal.

  16. After I read your blog today, the player that came to my mind immediately was Colin Greening. When I went to the comments page to offer my 2 cents worth, I was surprised to see that the very 1st comment from DP was the same Mr. Greening! I guess I was surprised because you don't really hear much about him - particularly in trade rumours- but I certainly agree with DP.
    I think he is going to be a very good power forward in this league.
    This is a trade that would be not only good for this year but for the longer term as well.
    I'm not sure Ottawa would be predisposed to deal with the Leafs, would they?

  17. Long raise two old-time Leaf trades that still sting for me (and you two, I can tell). I wanted Maloney but that was a huge cost. As for Burrows, he had been a fine defensive defenseman for the Penguins, but we got him too late. And giving up Carlyle (who won that Norris for Pittsburgh) was terrible. He was just coming into his own in Toronto and he could do what Burrows did- and much more.

    Hedgery...good stuff. Your point about not giving away a lot of young players for a big-name is one that I sense a lot of Leaf followers share. They don't want to give up much (if anything) of what Burke has built up. So if that means playing with what they have right now, with maybe a tweak or two, many could live with that, I think. Your approach would see the team shed useful players, but slightly older guys with contracts that would go off the books. Good post.

  18. Ed...I think you and DP raise a great point about Greening and the kind of player that he is and might turn out to be. But I have to believe a building team like Ottawa no more wants to part with their young, emerging talent (especially a kid with size and a bright future like Greening) than the Leafs do. But who knows?

  19. I also wouldn't mind if those guys I mentioned were dealt in the offseason instead. They're all guys who I think will have younger players push for their spots next year, and who's salaries could be put to better use.

    As far as not giving up a lot of young guys, I realize it would be necessary for a big deal, but I just think that if we give the young guys more time some will set themselves apart leaving the others expendable to bring in a big time player.

  20. Hedgery...we're back to the notion of simply having patience with young players. This roster is filled with those (and the Marlies as well). Some of the "answers" may already lie within the organization's talent pool....

  21. Love to see Phaneuf go. Probably best value right now with all the hipe about him.

    Phaneuf and Kadri for Getzlaf. Then keep the rest on defense, and give up Schenn for JVR, even if we have to wait for him. Great upside.

    Keep the rest of the team as is for now.