Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs: A Match Made In Heaven?

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Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs: A Match Made In Heaven?
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Since the Chicago Blackhawks re-signed restricted free agents Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg, trade rumors have swirled around the team and their need to add a gritty defenseman to play with Brian Campbell.

Similarly, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been under the same kind of focus. With the additions of Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek and Garnet Exelby, the team has a surplus of defensemen. Now, the team is in need of a scoring forward.

Is it possible to think the Leafs and Hawks could solve each others problems?

A recent article by Tim Sassone of The Daily Herald points out the connection between the two teams. The Leafs and Blackhawks both possess players that would fill holes on the other team. Names that Sassone mentions are Tomas Kabrele, Patrick Sharp and the player that peaked my interest; Garnet Exelby.

Kabrele was one player that many believed would be the one moved from the Leaf blueline. Recently, Brian Burke has not been optimistic about that prospect.

"If I had to handicap this, I'd say he will be a Leaf at the start of the year," Burke said. "That can change with one phone call."

There is only one blueliner—Garnet Exelby— that could fetch a decent return.

Exelby was acquired—along with Colin Stuart—by the Leafs for defenseman Pavel Kubina and forward Tim Stapleton.

With all the additions to Leafs' blueline, Exelby becomes the most attractive option for other teams. His low cap hit and youth—Exelby is 27-years-old—make him a desirable defenseman.

Exelby would provide Chicago with grittiness on the blue-line; something they desperately need.

But would the Blackhawks be willing to part with a player like Patrick Sharp for Garnet Exelby?

To the dismay of many Chicago fans, the answer is likely yes.

Sharp has a cap hit of $3.9 million this season and is under contract until the end of the 2011-2012 season.

Sharp is also the type of player Burke would be looking for.

Because of the $2.508 million salary difference this season, a Sharp for Exelby trade would be attractive to the Blackhawks. Even if Exelby walks next season, Chicago would have $3.9 million to use next off-season, which could be used to bolster their young core.

For the Leafs, they would gain a 30-goal scorer that is good defensively and can chip in on the penalty kill. To consummate a trade like this, the Leafs would need to add a pick or a prospect to appease the Blackhawks.

I am not implying this is the only way for the Blackhawks too add a defensive defensemen to their lineup, rather it is just another option that the 'Hawks might pursue as the offseason wears on.

Although this deal would not be an attractive one to Chicago fans at first, the addition of a gritty defensive defenseman is something the team needs if they want to be a true Stanley Cup contender.

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