The Toronto Maple Leafs are teetering on the edge of the playoffs, and are missing one last piece to launch them over the edge.
A new goalie.
The Maple Leafs are 28th in the league in goals against (3.0) and currently employ three goalies that rank no better than 35th in the league in save percentage.
GM Brian Burke is notorious for making big trades, and told TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto that the team is exploring the goalie market (via ESPN).
So what’s the solution to replace the struggling Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer?
Evgeni Nabokov, according to Bob Mitchell of the Toronto Sun. It’s hard not to agree with him.
The New York Islanders goalie has had a strong season at the age of 36, after struggling in recent years. He currently has posted a 14-14 record, with two shutouts and a 2.24 GAA in 30 games. His .925 save percentage and experience are exactly what the Maple Leafs could use. Ron Wilson was his former coach in San Jose, so there is some familiarity there as well.
Nabokov is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, which is a good and a bad thing.
A huge return won’t be necessary on a rental player, but the Leafs will be back to square one if they can’t convince him to re-sign.
Should The Maple Leafs Trade For Evgeni Nabokov?
The 10-year veteran has played in 80 playoff games during his career. His $570,000 cap hit would be the equivalent of you ordering the No. 2 at Burger King. It’s not a financial gamble in the least bit.
The Islanders have to leapfrog five different teams to make the playoffs this season, but the future is very bright. It would be foolish to hold onto an aging netminder that won’t be around when the team truly takes off.
The only issue is the compensation Toronto would have to surrender. If they have to pony up a top prospect for a rental, it makes no sense. If they are asked to part ways with Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne or Matt Frattin, then the front office should hang up the phone instantly.
If they are simply looking for a lesser player and maybe a draft pick…Pull the trigger.
The Maple Leafs have yet to make the postseason since the 2004 lockout, and they need to capitalize on the opportunity while they still can.
As Monday inches closer and closer, the Maple Leafs must make a move. Trading for Nabokov is their best option, as long as they don’t have to give up the farm.