With the All-Star Break over, Leafs Nation can focus on GM Brian Burke and his moves with the upcoming trade deadline.
Burke has 29 days to find the missing piece to give the Leafs their first post-lockout playoff berth.
The Buds now sit in ninth place in the East, far from the top spot they held early in the season.
Burke will undoubtedly be shopping for a big first-line centre to compliment the speedy duo of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. The Leafs don't have much size and physical presence up front and could use a strong power forward with a scoring touch.
Here are five possible moves Burke could make before the February 27.
Former Leafs assistant GM and current player agent Bill Watters tweeted today about a possible deal between the two clubs:
Here is one to smoke on…please don’t inhale….From Columbus, Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius, From Toronto, Luke Schenn, Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Komisarek and Nazem Kadri.
Huselius will be out until mid-February with a groin injury, but is expected to return before the deadline arrives.
In terms of salary cap, the deal would be fairly even both ways. But the question is whether or not Burke will want to commit to $7.8 million per year through 2017-18 for Nash. The winger has potential to be a 35-goal scorer, but he has yet to hit the mark since 2008-09.
For Columbus, the move would leave a large hole where Nash once stood. But with the club dead last in the league, the loss of James Wisniewski to a fractured ankle and talks of moving Jeff Carter, don't be surprised to see the Blue Jackets clean the house to bring in young talents like Schenn and Kadri.
Again, Columbus is looking poised to clear the bench and start fresh, leaving Jeff Carter available and promising.
Blue Jackets insider Aaron Portzline posted a number of tweets expressing Columbus' interest in moving Carter before the deadline, and it's not surprising.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, Carter is slightly undersized at 6'4" and 199 lbs. This might not be enough to deter Burke from making a deal, possibly including Huselius.
The only problem with Carter is the salary baggage he carries. His contract would cost the Leafs $5.27 million per year for another 10 years.
Burke has taken risks like that before, so a move for Carter wouldn't be far off. Watch for a move including young talent and high draft picks to bring the centre to Toronto.
Neither players are what Leaf Nation expect Burke to deal for, but the signs all point to a Leafs-Oilers agreement. A number of Oilers scouts have been seen at Leafs games, and although Burke certainly wants size in his top-six forwards, the skill of either Oiler would bolster Toronto's offence.
Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner are both smaller forwards but pack a solid scoring threat. Hemsky's versatility would be a great asset for the Leafs as he could centre the Kessel-Lupul duo or play on Grabovski's wing.
With Hemsky approaching unrestricted free agency this offseason, he seems to be the more likely of the pair to be moved. Gagner will also enter free agency but will be restricted and, if he isn't traded, will likely be kept in the fold.
Since the departure of Sheldon Souray after last season, Edmonton has been looking to boost the depth of their faltering blue line. With Toronto's long line of solid defencemen reaching down to the heart of their farm team, the Leafs have plenty to offer.
If Burke can't manage to get a major scoring threat up front before the deadline, he at least needs to get size. Ryan Clowe would be a great fit in the Leafs' top six to bang bodies and give them a solid presence in front of the net.
The word out of San Jose is that the Sharks are looking to move the big left winger. At 6'2" and 225 lbs., Clowe is a big, physical forward who has been consistently around the 20-goal mark throughout most of his career.
Clowe has the ability to move from the wing to centre, making him a great fit for the top line. What adds to his allure is the fact that the cap hit towards the Leafs would only be $3.625 million for one more contract year.
Burke could possibly give up some young talent such as Kadri or Matt Frattin plus a mid-range draft pick for Clowe.
Ryan Getzlaf has been in the ears of Leafs faithful for months as the Kessel-Lupul duo has yet to find the right centre to make the team a Cup contender. The 6'4" 224 lb. centre is exactly what the two speedy wingers need to add some toughness to the lineup and cause some traffic in the crease.
Getzlaf and Burke have a relationship dating back to their Stanley Cup championship in Anaheim, and the Leafs' GM would love nothing better than to snatch up the Duck's captain.
In addition to Burke's ties with Getzlaf, he and Anaheim GM Bob Murray seem to be on good working terms. The Leafs recently sent minor league winger Luca Caputi to the Ducks in exchange for forward Nicolas Deschamps.
Getzlaf's contract isn't too steep and would only cost the Leafs $5.325 million a year through next season. An exchange for Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarsson and Tyler Bozak would keep the Leafs just under the salary cap and still leave them with enough depth to push for a playoff berth.
Although Murray may not want to give up his captain, he is in a predicament with Getzlaf's contract. The big centre would become an unrestricted free agent after next season, which would lower his trade value even by the next trade deadline. Teams don't want to give up a whole lot for a rent-a-player down the stretch.
The stars are aligned for Burke to make his move. And given his history it will be before the Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. deadline. What he will bring to a Toronto team on the bubble, nobody really knows. But any addition would be a good one.
The fate of this season lies within the negotiating power of Brian Burke. Hopefully Leafs Nation can trust him.