Toronto Maple Leafs: Positives and Negatives of Their Quiet Deadline

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Positives and Negatives of Their Quiet Deadline
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With the NHL trade deadline now almost a week in the rear-view mirror, the Toronto Maple Leafs roster is set for their postseason push.

Toronto general manager Dave Nonis stayed relatively quiet on April 3, bringing in just one new face (Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne) and parting with just a fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

While O'Byrne will provide some size on the blue line and bring the ability to block shots, he's in no way a major acquisition for Toronto, seeing as he'll be making his debut Monday night against the New York Rangers (via the National Post).

With such a quiet deadline, there are sure to be those who aren't satisfied with Nonis' decision to stand pat, while others will applaud the move.

Both sides have reasonable arguments, and there are both positives and negatives about the Leafs' lack of movement.


Positive: The Leafs Didn't Move Anything Significant for a Goaltender

Dave Nonis' decision to avoid overpaying for Roberto Luongo was probably the best move he made all day on April 3.

According to hockey insider Darren Dreger of TSN, the Vancouver Canucks actually called the Leafs three times in the final hour before the deadline with offers and Toronto refused all three:

Considering the price that Dreger says the Canucks were looking for, Nonis was wise to stay away.

With James Reimer playing admirably in net this season, there was no need to trade multiple draft choices, as well as a good, young backup goalie to bring in an aging Luongo, whose numbers aren't very impressive this season and who could only provide so much of a boost in net.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
With defensive help being Toronto's primary need, avoiding Luongo was a great choice.


Negative: Toronto Didn't Improve at all for Its Playoff Run

Yes, I know, the Leafs aren't supposed to be contenders just yet. We're still a few years away from winning.

These lines are often parroted as reasons to avoid bringing in big-name players and paying a steep price to acquire them.

This Leafs team, however, is more than capable of competing in the Eastern Conference this season.

They have played respectable hockey against the top teams in the conference and have a great deal of offensive depth (especially when Joffrey Lupul can stay healthy). With the goaltending situation stabilizing itself this season, making a play for a better defenseman than Ryan O'Byrne could very well have made this team a threat to win a playoff series or two.

What's worse, a guy like Jay Bouwmeester (who would have instantly become Toronto's definite No. 2 defenseman) would not have cost the Leafs very much at all.

In fact, if we take a look at the prospects the Calgary Flames acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Bouwmeester and compare them to Toronto's prospects (using hockeysfuture.com's rankings), we'd see that the Leafs could've had Bouwmeester by giving up a prospect package consisting of Kevin Marshall, Jussi Rynnas and a first-round draft pick.

Tell me you wouldn't applaud that kind of deal.

I understand not giving up the farm or mortgaging the future, but when you can improve your team in the short run (in a big way, no less) and ensure that it doesn't do too much damage to the team's long-term sustainability, an effort must be made to get something done.


Positive: Toronto Didn't Block Any Young Defensemen from Moving Through the Ranks

As nice as it would have been to add another top-four defenseman at the deadline, picking up Ryan O'Byrne instead of a Keith Yandle or Jay Bouwmeester allows the team to continue to develop its younger defensemen and give them a shot at cracking the NHL roster next season.

With both Jesse Blacker and Korbinian Holzer on the cusp of being ready for NHL action, bringing in Yandle (who is signed through the 2015-16 season) or Bouwmeester (who is signed through the 2013-14 season) would have blocked those young guns from making the jump to the NHL.

When you consider Jake Gardiner, who also figures to be a part of the plan in Toronto next year, you've got a roster that's filling up quickly on the back end.

While Bouwmeester and Yandle would have both provided a major boost for the Leafs on the back for at least the next few seasons, missing out on the chance to bring them in isn't the end of the world.

 

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