Every NHL team has its untouchable players.
One mention of an untouchable's name during trade talks and the phone call is over.
Leafs GM Brian Burke has his own mental list of Leaf untouchables, but, full disclosure, he was not consulted in the creation of this slideshow.
As such, don't be shocked if a couple of the names here are different from what you were expecting.
Here are seven players in the Leaf organization who should be considered (but aren't necessarily) untouchable.
Phil Kessel - Brian Burke loves Kessel, and I think he's alright. A trade offer involving Kessel is highly unlikely, but if the right deal came along that filled an organizational need (a big, No.1 centreman, for instance), Burke would be foolish to completely ignore it.
Joffrey Lupul - Like Kessel, Lupul isn't going anywhere unless an organizational need can be filled. He is one of the most valuable Leafs right now, but what if, say, Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau were available?
Mike Brown - This guy is the perfect fourth liner. Why would you even think of trading him? At the same time, great fourth liners are a little easier to replace than great first liners.
Dion Phaneuf - Phaneuf has the trust and respect of his team and his boss, so there's no reason to trade him. Then again, the Leafs have some depth at D, so if there's a legitimate starting goalie or No.1 centreman out there to be had, it might not hurt as much as you think to offer up Phaneuf.
James Reimer - This is a tough one. Is he for real or not? We don't know yet, which is why he makes the HM list.
Greg McKegg - McKegg looks like a great prospect who could turn out to be 20-goal scorer in the NHL someday. He isn't an elite prospect and it's hard to label your "B" prospects untouchable, but he needs to be given a chance to be evaluated in Toronto before he's flipped for someone (or something) else.
Nazem Kadri - 2012-13 is Kadri's time to shine and to silence all his critics. If he has a successful year, he'll graduate from the HM list.
Mikhail Grabovski is usually one of the best Leafs on the ice on any given night.
He is an excellent 2C, he's a leader on the team and he works harder than most of his mates.
Grabovski is untouchable because he is irreplaceable. You could trade him in a package for a 1C, but that would be like filling a hole by digging another.
Jake Gardiner had a great rookie season in 2011-12, and he's only going to get better.
He is a key building block going forward and there is no realistic trade proposal involving Gardiner you could come up with that would be palatable.
Trust me, a random writer on the Internet: Jake Gardiner will shatter his rookie point total (seven goals, 30 points) in 2012-13.
Tyler Biggs will compete for a roster spot next month during training camp, and while it is unlikely he'll make the Leafs this year, it will be an excellent opportunity to evaluate his progress.
He has the potential to develop into a top-six power forward someday, but he would still be a force to be reckoned with if he ends up as a third liner.
He represents an intriguing blend of size, skill and toughness.
As such, the Leafs ought to hang on to him.
Pissing Your Scouts Off 101:
- Recklessly trade draft picks away (especially the high ones).
- Pick your own guy instead of the one they took countless hours to pick for you.
- Pat them on the back for a job well done after the draft is over, then turn around and trade whoever you picked before they've even had a whiff of the NHL.
Stuart Percy is a defensively responsible player who plays a very unremarkable game.
He is similar to 2012 second overall pick Ryan Murray, a fellow defenseman, in that regard.
Both players are good defensively and are excellent at doing all the little things, but neither of them stand out that often because of how quietly and efficiently they go about their business.
He is going to be a good NHLer in a few years and his name should be kept out of trade talks in the meantime.
Matt Frattin is another valuable building block for the Leafs.
He plays a similar game to Nikolai Kulemin and as such, could one day be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL.
He drives hard to the net, has a wicked shot, plays in the dirty areas and is dangerous off the rush.
What's not to like? Frattin is fun to watch when he has the puck, and when you get excited about a player like that, you know you've got something special.
Nobody in the system (unless you count Kulemin) can replace what Frattin brings to the team.
Morgan Rielly is arguably the best and most exciting prospect in the entire Leaf organization.
There is no possible reason for wanting or needing to trade this kid right now.