Many supporters of Leafs Nation have been truly skeptical of the career of Nik Antropov.
It started when the Leafs took him in the first round, 10th overall, when many believed he would be an early second-rounder.
But he had a very dominant season in the second tier of the then, RSL, and so the Leafs went out of their way to make him a part of their future.
He went from being No. 11 to No. 80, but the injuries would never escape him.
Today, he is considered by many as our only legitimate Top Six forward, although the recent play of Jason Blake, would have him too, being considered in that class.
With the recent remarks by Brian Burke, stating that Big Nik should basically not expect a contract renewal, where does Antropov go next? It is almost an absolute guarantee that he will be donning the colours of a different team come the end of March 4—but for who, where, and what will HE do there?
Obviously, we fans are most concerned by the first two—who are we getting in return, and where is he going? However it is amusing to wonder how he will do once he goes to the new city. Obviously, we as Leafs fans should not really care how he does, just as long as what we received for him is adequate.
So I'll go through my three opinions, on those three questions, but I ask anyone who chooses to read this, to state their opinions as well.
Who Will The Leafs Receive In Return? Where Is Antropov Going?
This is pure speculation, and we all have our own opinions on his worth, and who we'd want in return.
If I were the GM of the Maple Leafs, and I'm moving Antropov, I'd be starting with an offer for a second-round pick and a prospect. This would entice a number of "buyers" to consider him as a great option. As a result, I would have the opportunity to field numerous offers, and create bidding wars.
Hopefully when all is said and done, Antropov will be heading to another city, with either a first-round pick coming back our way, or a second-round pick and a good prospect. Considering the rumours of where Leafs scouts have been, I would hope that the Flyers, Bruins, Blue Jackets, and Penguins show considerable interest.
The pick is a pick, but the thought of the prospect in return, is something I would wonder about.
The Flyers have a few considerable options in the prospect field. Considering it is Antropov, JVR is untouchable in this trade, perhaps if it was Kaberle going to the city of brotherly love. Claude Giroux would be a great option, and considering the second-round pick, should be a higher choice, he would be an excellent player for the Leafs to look at.
The Bruins also have some good young prospects coming up as well. When I first think of the Bruins' prospect pool, Brad Marchand first comes to mind, for obviously his Canadian heroics. But a guy like Zach Hamill would also be highly touted by me, if I'm dealing with the Bruins.
The Blue Jackets have an excellent crop of impact prospects, most notably the likes of Brassard and Filatov. Again, its Antropov, not Kaberle, so we need to be reasonable. Perhaps, a guy like Cody Goulobef would serve us well. The Blue Jackets also have apparent interest in Kubina.
You could also throw the Penguins' hat into the Antropov sweepstakes, considering they lack secondary scoring. It would be difficult to acquire their first round pick, but perhaps a second-round pick and a good young player/prospect. It's a tough call, but if Burke really wanted Staal, he could definitely attempt to expand the deal to include another payer and Antropov, and maybe the Penguins' bite.
What Will He Do There?
Any team that acquires Antropov gets a quality big forward, who at times does not play big. He would be an excellent addition to any power-play unit, either first or second, due to his excellent ability to tip the puck, screen, and be a big body in front of the net. He brings something similar to what Holmstrom brings to the Detroit power play, but with more skill along the boards, and the ability to generate offense.
He has apparently cured the injury bug (KNOCK ON WOOD), and should be capable of the rigorous grind of the playoffs.
With the comments made by Burke, about not expecting to offer Antropov a contract for next season, and that he should look at a change of scenery, as a GM of the team that acquires him, I see it as a great thing.
I'd be less worried of the Hossa factor with the Penguins, because Antropov's number-one destination of choice going into July 1,would have been the Maple Leafs. With them apparently out of the picture, Antropov is much more likely to choose to resign.
Overall, Nik Antropov is a guy that is expected to find a new home come March 4th, but who, where, and what he will do there, is still uncertain. About as uncertain as his health has been in the past.
Crazy Trade Thought:
Thomas McCollum (Goalie Prospect)
Chris Osgood (Salary Dump)