Brian Burke has made it clear that the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be making more moves through trades this summer rather than free agency. With their first move being the signing of Jay McClement, Burke has added some size to the bottom six but done nothing to improve the goaltending position and the first-line center spot.
With the acquisitions of McClement and James van Riemsdyk, the Leafs now have enough depth on forward that they can use in a trade for either a No. 1 center or a starting goalie.
In my opinion, James Reimer is capable of being the Leafs' starting goaltender. If he never got hurt six games into last season, no one would be wondering otherwise. If the Leafs can sign a capable, veteran backup in free agency, they should be just fine. That leaves the No. 1 center role up for grabs.
Which brings me to the topic of this article. The Leafs need a center to play between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. Tyler Bozak is a good player, just not good enough to be in that role in the long-term. Tim Connolly was a failed experiment last season and now his salary is just a burden on the Leafs.
While there are centers like Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal possibly on the market this year, they are either not available anymore or too expensive. There is only one option for the Leafs: Paul Stastny.
Stastny is in a situation in Colorado where he can still be a reliable player there, but with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly Colorado is set with first- and second-line centers for the foreseeable future. Paul Stastny does not belong on the third-line, so he should be traded elsewhere.
Would you make this deal?
The Leafs have the pieces to deal for a player they desperately need. Whether the Avalanche want offense or defense in return, the Leafs could give them both. With van Riemsdyk now entrenched in the top six, either Clarke MacArthur or Nikolai Kulemin could be moved and one of them would definitely be involved here.
Since Stastny will be taking Bozak's job, it only makes sense to move him as well. If they want a defenseman involved, Cody Franson is the most likely to be moved—but with the defensemen in Colorado's system, I don't think it will be necessary.
All in all, I think the deal would look like this.
To Toronto: Paul Stastny
To Colorado: Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, Matthew Lombardi (for cap reasons)
This trade gives both teams what they need. Toronto gets their No. 1 center and Colorado gets extra depth on the wing, while Bozak is more suited to the role he would serve in Colorado. Lombardi is set to give the Avalanche an extra push towards the salary floor.
Burke is trying to build a team that will not only make the playoffs but compete for the Stanley Cup. While that is a lot to do in just one summer, Burke will do all he can. Acquiring Paul Stastny will go a long way to accomplishing that goal.