Quiet Trade Deadline May Have Been Best Move for Leafs
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After a lot of buildup in the media leading up to the trade deadline, it turned out to be a rather quiet day for Toronto. The Maple Leafs did add some defensive depth by acquiring Ryan O'Byrne from the Colorado Avalanche for a 2014 fourth-round selection (h/t TSN).
The good news is the Leafs got themselves an experienced and serviceable player by giving up almost nothing. The better news may be the rumored trades not made. Not reaching an agreement on a trade may have a bigger impact on the club going forward.
Rumors were running rampant for days that the Leafs were working on a deal to bring Roberto Luongo into the fold. Reports ranged from packages including Tyler Bozak or others as the main piece going the other way (h/t Ed Willes of The Province).
No matter what the specifics that were discussed between the two sides are, it is most likely in Toronto's favor that no deal was reached. Whether the Maple Leafs really needed an upgrade between the pipes is up for debate.
There is little doubt that Luongo has been one of the best when he is on his game. The problem is Luongo has not been deemed the best on his current team and seems to have regressed over the last few years.
By not pulling the trigger on a deal for Luongo or any other goalie, Toronto decided its current netminder duo would suffice for this season. Toronto also kept its cap space intact heading into the summer.
This will be key as the Maple Leafs have a solid core to build around and should find themselves as an attractive option for free agents. This in no way precludes them from improving their goaltending this summer if the playoffs show either option as not being capable.
With Luongo eating up cap space while sitting on the bench, Vancouver's asking price may come down this summer. With that in mind, he may still be a future Leaf—just at a lower cost in trade.
The Maple Leafs may not have scored a major acquisition, but they did not weaken their team for the present or down the road by pulling the trigger on a trade they may have regretted.
O'Byrne is a low-risk, medium-reward-type of trade. He is physical, has experience and has been a solid shot-blocker in the past.
If he can come in and give 18 to 20 minutes of quality ice time, the Leafs will have gotten themselves some help in an area of need. If he does not fit in, he has a low-cost, expiring contract.
It may not be sexy, but the Leafs made two solid moves. They got some defensive depth and they did not give up the future reaching for a goalie. It may have been a quiet day, but sometimes those are the most productive.
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