With Brian Burke now officially the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, many people are beginning to wonder when the so-called "rebuilding" process will begin.
With no moves being made yet and the trade deadline quickly approaching, the big question is who will stay and who will go. In my opinion, there is one person on the team that is almost certainly on his way out of Toronto: Jason Blake.
I personally have nothing against Blake. I like his style of play and I like the skill that he brings to the Leafs, especially as of late as his play has been spectacular.
However, on this Leafs team he has no place on the roster. Here are the three reasons why Jason Blake should be traded this year.
Toronto is looking to build a team around a strong base of young players, such as Luke Schenn. At 35, it is easy to see that Blake does not fit in with where this team is moving.
The Leafs should look to trade him and pick some draft picks, prospects, or even one decent young player, because, in the long run, it will benefit the team much more than Blake ever could in the present.
Blake is in the second year of a five-year, $20 million contract, and it is easy to see that this cap space could be better spent on three or four young players.
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has always been worried about money when it comes to its hockey team, and even though Burke has complete autonomy, there will be a push from the front office for Burke to save some money where the source is available.
Jason Blake is arguably that source.
Blake has been nothing if not inconsistent during his tenure with the Buds. After scoring 40 goals in his final season with the NY Islanders, Blake managed merely 15 in his first season with the Leafs.
Due to the fact that Blake was signed to give offense to a team that was lacking in that department, a 15-goal season is just not acceptable. Granted, Blake was struggling with his recent cancer diagnosis, but he still managed to play all 82 games, and for a player of Blake's supposed caliber, 15 goals just won't cut it.
On the flip side, Blake's production of late has been quite excellent. Through 49 games thus far this season, Blake already has 19 goals and 40 points.
He has been the Leafs' best player through the last 10 to 15 games, which one could argue is giving him a much better trade value than this time last year. This should be reason enough for Mr. Burke to pull the trigger and make a deal before it might be too late.
In conclusion, it is easy to see that the Leafs need to move Blake. The team needs to start looking toward the future, and although he might be good for the present, in the long run, the Leafs need youth.
At his age, Jason Blake is merely part of the past.
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