Potential Trade Options for the Toronto Maple Leafs

James Onusko@@jonuskoContributor IIIFebruary 27, 2014

Potential Trade Options for the Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images

    The countdown to the March 5 trade deadline is on, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, while not expected to be major players, could end up making some roster changes.

    The team's offence has not been an issue. The top three lines have produced for most of the year despite some significant losses to injury and suspension. Depth forwards could be sought, but the most likely target would have to be a top-four rearguard.

    There are a number of statistics that support the need to improve defensively, but the most glaring has to be their Corsi team number that is second worst in the league at 42.9 percent according to ExtraSkater.com. Without the excellent play of Jonathan Bernier and, to a lesser degree, James Reimer, the Leafs would not be winners of seven of their last 10 games.

    While Toronto is looking to add, there is also a possibility that the team could be moving some players, particularly those with expiring contracts. Let's take a look at some potential trade options for the Leafs.

    All stats can be found on NHL.com unless otherwise noted.

Moving Nikolai Kulemin

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    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    Probability of Trade: Possible 

    Nikolai Kulemin is the longest-serving Maple Leaf on the current roster. While some appreciate his solid two-way game, the pending unrestricted free agent may not be a Leaf for much longer.

    TSN's Darren Dreger recently reported (via Michael Traikos of the National Post) that Kulemin could be on the move but that the asking price appears to be quite high. With David Clarkson signed to a seven-year contract, Kulemin could be squeezed out of the mix.

    Coupled with the fact that the Leafs have had some decent depth forwards in their system—Jerry D'Amigo, Josh Leivo and David Broll all come to mind—Kulemin, despite some solid defensive play on many nights, may be deemed expendable.

    Depending on the asking price, Kulemin could be moved before the deadline, but it seems unlikely. With just 18 points in 48 games, the Leafs may not be able to demand much of a return.

Moving David Bolland

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Probability of Trade: Unlikely

    Forward David Bolland has had a tough year in Hogtown. Felled by injury early in the season, rehabbing has not gone smoothly as he continues to be out of the lineup.

    According to a tweet from Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos (h/t Sportsnet's Luke Fox), the 27-year-old Bolland is seeking as much as $40 million over seven or eight years, which would mean he sees himself as a top-six forward in Toronto for years to come.

    With the cap likely to go up in 2014-15, the Leafs could afford to do this, but being able to afford it and actually wanting to do it are two different things.

    Bolland has been very good when he's played, and he brings the intangibles of leadership and knowing how to win based on his multiple Stanley Cups. Trading Bolland before the deadline, unless the return is very high, would seem like a waste if the Leafs hope to go deep into the playoffs this spring.

Trading James Reimer

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    Probability of Trade: Possible

    While James Reimer has played well, Jonathan Bernier has been that much better. Bernier has a sparkling .927 save percentage and a solid 2.55 goals-against average. Reimer's numbers have slipped to a .911 save percentage and a 3.25 goals-against average.

    Yet Reimer's numbers are still reasonably good considering the poor team defence that the Leafs have played in 2013-14. 

    The major issue is that there does not seem to be a shortage of goalies available for trade, with Ryan Miller headlining this group. Meanwhile, beyond the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and the Minnesota Wild, not a lot of teams seem to be seeking netminders.

    The tandem has worked well in Toronto, so seeing both goaltenders finishing the year in Toronto is a distinct possibility. The old adage "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" seems to apply here.

    If the Leafs can package Reimer with a top-six forward, thus yielding a top-four defender, it might be worth it.

Acquiring a Top-Four Defenceman

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    Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

    Probability of Trade: Possible

    The Leafs could really use another top-four defender as they prepare to make a stretch run. They don't have a lot of cap space (via Cap Geek), so the Leafs would likely have to move a player or two to make this happen. A lot would depend on who might be available.

    If someone like Mark Giordano is available, then the Leafs would be foolish not to be looking at a potential deal. It also seems that New York Ranger Dan Girardi is available for the right price since he has yet to come to an agreement with the Rangers on an extension, per the New York Daily News' Pat Leonard. Again, he would immediately move into the Leafs' top-four on the point. 

    A move for a veteran defender would allow the Leafs to ease the minutes on young Jake Gardiner and rookie Morgan Rielly, both of whom have been stretched at times this season. 

    A top-four defender would likely require a roster player and a high draft pick, if not a very good organizational prospect.