With the new year already progress, right now is the time teams begin to think whether they are contenders or pretenders.
The Leafs are in a precarious situation. They are out of the playoff picture right now; however, they aren't out by very much. They may sell some talent, but I highly doubt they will just sell off talent without getting immediate help for their team.
Around this time of year, GM Brian Burke always surprises Leaf fans with a January blockbuster. Last year it was getting Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner, the year before that it was Dion Phaneuf and JS Giguere.
Who will it be this year?
Here's a list of 11 players I feel the Leafs could end up pursuing by the trade deadline this year.
Ryan Getzlaf is another one of Brian Burke's former players that have been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs lately.
Getzlaf's large frame, vision, and of course toughness at the center spot would be a welcomed addition to a Leafs squad that really lacks that tough attitude.
Tyler Bozak/Mikhail Grabovski
Hearing rumors that to get the deal done, the Leafs would need to include Schenn to put them over the top. I don't know how open Burke is to trading Schenn, but he has to at least look into it.
Malone, albeit a terrible contract, is one player who could put the Leafs power-play on the next level. As you can see, Malone, whom I like to compare a little to Gary Roberts, makes his home in front of the opposing goaltenders.
2012 Fourth Round Pick
Here the Leafs give up oft injured player Colby Armstrong to get Malone's big body in front of the net. For the Lightning, they get out from under his contract, and also take on a smaller contract in Armstrong, whom may end up on the IR anyways for them.
Rick Nash is obviously the first name any Leaf fan wants on their roster. Nash, a Toronto native, would give the Leafs two scoring lines, and easily gives the Leafs a two line line attack against one of their division foes in the Boston Bruins.
Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Samuel Pahlsson
Luke Schenn, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Jonas Gustavsson and a 2012 Second Round Pick
This deal may be a slight overpay, but not when you look at what the Leafs gave up, and what they still have left over. The did not get rid of Colborne or Kadri, they still have Gardiner and Franson, and lastly still have two scoring lines with Lupul/Bozak/Kessel and Nash/Connolly/Kadri(or Mac).
Secondly, this gives the Leafs quite a third line with MacArthur/Brassard/Matt Frattin. Pahlsson takes over for the departed Philippe Dupuis, whom if he assists on one goal, or blocks a shot, has done more than Dupuis ever did in a Leafs uniform.
Coming at a whopping 6'4" 240 pounds, Penner is the prototypical power forward the Leafs sorely lack. Having a similar build to Bruins star Milan Lucic, Penner could be a force in the NHL if he put his mind to it.
Brian Burke is a big fan of this guy, and to be honest, when he's on his game, I'm a fan of the guy too.
It's a big risk to take on a player with a $4+ million cap hit, but if it doesn't work out, the Leafs get that as cap space.
This is a classic deal right here. Both players have high cap hits, both players are having down years, but both give their teams something they could use.
Toronto could use the size and skill, and Los Angeles could use the centermen and the speed Lombardi provides.
Tuomu Ruutu, like Leafs oft-injured forward Colby Armstrong, is a thorn in the side of many NHL teams. His hard-hitting, skilled game is always a tough thing to stop. Last season he put up a career high 57 points, but has seen a slight drop-off this season.
Another big, rough, power forward the Leafs desperately need. Ryan brings with him a 30 goal touch, with a modest contract. Yes, that's another former Brian Burke draft pick, and needless to say, he didn't botch the pick after Sidney Crosby.
If injuries continue to hamper Crosby the rest of his career, Ryan could end up being the best player to come out of the 2005 NHL Draft. Anze Kopitar may have something to say to that though.
Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Keith Aulie, Draft Pick (if needed)
The Leafs have depth going forward, and giving up Aulie, Grabovski, and Kulemin might seem steep initially, but in the grand scheme of things, losing these guys likely won't hurt them in the long run.
With questions abound about the Leafs real lack of consistency going forward, Toronto may explore the thought of trying to acquire another number one netminder, since Reimer may of been figured out by his NHL comrades.
Schneider, who is playing behind Roberto Luongo, and Jon Bernier, who is playing behind Jon Quick, both are better than Reimer both statistically, and as an all-around goalie.
2012 Second Round Pick
2012 Third Round Pick
David Booth or Mason Raymond (whichever player makes the deal the most fair for both sides)
Likely one of the best first line centers available at the deadline. Staal's 8+ million dollar price tag means the Leafs will likely have to include quite a bit of salary to take him on.
As for what the Canes will want, they'll likely be asking for expiring contracts and picks and prospects.
Chris Stewart is another big, bruising power forward which the Leafs could easily use. He's having a down year right now with St. Louis, slip-sliding in and out of their top six due to his inconsistency.
Inconsistency, meet Nikolai Kulemin. Both players seem like logical trade partners. Both players get paid roughly the same amount, both players are becoming UFA's this offseason, and both players could use a change of scenery to help them out going forward.
As many of you may know, I've been pushing hard for the Leafs to at least explore the idea of acquiring Ryan Suter to add to the Leafs attack.
Suter is a big, tough, all-around great player. He can play in all situations and has been one of the steadiest defenders this season. With the Preds already resigning Pekka Rinne, and likely Shea Weber, the Preds may not be able to afford a new contract for Suter.
The Preds have close to $14 million in cap space, but being a small market team, means they likely can't afford to spend more than say $55 million next season.
2012 Second Round Pick
2012 Third Round Pick
Again, likely another deal the Leafs overpay for, but in the grand scheme of things, this gives the Leafs a fighting chance this season.
A defensive core that lists like an all-star team
Will this unit improve the teams penalty kill?