Toronto Maple Leafs: Discussing the Playoff Push and Recent Trade Speculation

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Discussing the Playoff Push and Recent Trade Speculation
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The NHL trade deadline is exactly two weeks away, and the league has remained fairly quiet thus far.

Trade rumors and speculation have circled the NHL for many weeks. However, no teams have yet to make a significant splash in the trade scene leading up to the February 27th deadline. 

In the Toronto Maple Leafs' front office, it has been "very quiet" according to General Manager Brian Burke. A little too quiet for Burke's liking.

Usually, Brian Burke would have the majority of his deals completed by this point in the regular season.

One of his biggest trades occurred on January 31st, 2010, when he shipped out Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers to the Calgary Flames. In return, the Leafs acquired forward Fredrik Sjostrom, prospect Keith Aulie and their current captain, Dion Phaneuf.

During his time with the Leafs thus far, Burke has acquired or signed players such as:

  • Phil Kessel
  • Joffrey Lupul
  • John-Michael Liles
  • Jake Gardiner
  • Jonas Gustavsson
  • Tim Connolly
  • Clarke Macarthur

 

Will Brian Burke make a significant move before the Trade Deadline?

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Brian Burke has completely transformed the Toronto Maple Leafs since arriving to the organization in 2008.

Burke will be looking to make improvements to his team before the deadline, if possible. With the trade scene being fairly quiet, fans should not be shocked if the Leafs don't make any significant moves.  

In the meantime, it is still being reported by TSN that the Philadelphia Flyers are interested in acquiring a defenceman. The Flyers have three possible names on their interest list.

It is speculated that 22-year-old Luke Schenn is fairly high up on that list. Rumors and speculation surrounding the young defenceman have been on going for weeks and will likely continue up to the deadline.

After a slow start to the season, it seems like Luke Schenn is back to playing sound, defensive hockey. In 55 games this season, Schenn has posted 17 points along with a plus-8 rating in the plus/minus category.

The Leafs are looking to acquire a top-six forward with some size.

If the speculation is true, 22-year-old powerhouse James van Riemsdyk would be the best fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the 6'3'', 200 lbs young gun is currently on the injured reserve with a concussion.

No one is really certain when van Riemsdyk will be able to return to action. This lowers his trade value and makes a deal between the Leafs and Flyers quite unlikely.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Towards the beginning of February, it was also speculated that the Los Angeles Kings were taking a look at wingers Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke Macarthur.

Fans from around the NHL were proposing possible players that the Leafs would get back in return. Players such as Dustin Brown and Dustin Penner seemed to highlight much of their discussion. Even Mike Richards was thrown on to the table as well.

For such a deal to make sense for both clubs, the Leafs would likely have to ship away more than they would like to.

Since then, nothing big has come up between the Kings and the Leafs for a possible deal.

Like Brian Burke said, the trade scene within the Leafs' front office is very quiet.

This could come as a good sign or a very bad sign for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs (28-22-6) are currently holding onto the last playoff spot by a thread. The Washington Capitals are just one point below and also have one game in hand.

The team is also currently riding a three-game losing streak. With other teams fighting hard to make the playoffs, the Leafs absolutely can not afford an extended losing streak.

To make matters worse, the Leafs lost some important games versus the surging Montreal Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets.

The Canadiens are now riding a three-game winning streak and are slowly making their way up the Eastern Conference standings. The Jets are currently sitting on the 10th position and are only four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marianne Helm/Getty Images

While their surrounding opponents make the most of their playoff pushes, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to focus on taking every game to the next level.

The Leafs absolutely embarrassed the sell-out crowd at the Air Canada Center during "Mats Sundin night." The Leafs lost the game 5-0 to the surging Montreal Canadiens.

Habs goaltender Carey Price played an outstanding game, but the Leafs squad can only blame themselves after a lackluster performance on home ice.

Every game for the Toronto Maple Leafs is important from now until the end of the regular season.

The games are bound to get tougher and tougher as the Leafs begin a three-game road trip versus the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks starting on Tuesday, February 14th.

As reported on the Toronto Maple Leafs website, head coach Ron Wilson will be tweaking up the lines on Tuesday.

It is expected that Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul will be sticking together as of now. The second line will likely feature Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly and Clarke Macarthur. The Leafs third line will include Joey Crabb, Matthew Lombardi and Nikolai Kulemin, while the fourth line will remain the same.  

Ron Wilson has also said he is undecided on who will start the game in the Leafs' crease versus the Flames.

Where will the Leafs finish in the Eastern Conference?

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Hopefully, the changes made by the coaching staff will get the Leafs out of their current three-game losing streak.

The Leafs can not afford to lose any more ground in the Eastern Conference. If they want to make an appearance into the postseason, they will need to play more consistent hockey and fight for every point.

If an extended losing streak does occur, General Manager Brian Burke may be forced to make a panic trade to help improve his team.

However, if the Leafs can get out of their recent woes and string together a few wins, Leafs Nation will be in good hands for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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