Being a Leaf fan, I would love to see the Blue and White make a splash at the trade deadline.
That said, the Leafs have no shot at the playoffs this year, which leads me to believe that GM Brian Burke will be looking to unload a few players in an attempt to free up some valuable cap space so he can do some free agent shopping next summer.
Through 44 games the Leafs have managed to put together a 15-20-9 record, which, by all accounts, will not provide them with a decent enough start to parlay into a playoff spot down the road.
The Leafs badly need a playmaking centre, and upgrade on the wings and some goaltending depth. Considering how late Brian Burke came into the Leafs situation last season, this is year one of a lengthy effort to turn around the misfortunes of the Leafs, a process that may very well take another two to three seasons.
Free-agent forward Alex Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, defenseman Garnet Exelby and goaltender Vesa Toskala will all likely be on the block on or before the trade deadline, each one receiving mild interest from suitors.
Of the five players, Stajan, Stempniak and Ponikarovsky could all fetch good value as each one could be a valuable addition to any team making a push for the playoffs.
Avoiding a bottom five finish would seem to be a priority for the Leafs as, after trading their 2010 first-round draft pick to the Boston Bruins in the Phil Kessel deal, the Leafs would hate to be handing over a lottery pick to the Bruins.
That said, what’s done is done. Kessel will be a genuine 35 goal scoring threat for over a decade and there is no guarantee any of the players drafted in the top five will ever reach that status.
With that in mind, Burke will do what’s best for the Leafs, no matter what the consequences are in the standings.