Maple Leafs Add Matt Lashoff; Is A Bigger Deal In The Works?

Eric WarrenCorrespondent IIAugust 28, 2010

DALLAS - SEPTEMBER 16:  Defenseman Matt Lashoff #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at American Airlines Center on September 16, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lighting made a minor deal today with Alex Berry and Stefano Giliati of the Toronto Marlies going to the Sunshine State while the Lightning send bruising defenseman Matt Lashoff to Toronto.

While losing prospects has not been the norm for the Leafs as of late, this latest deal may be a pre-curser to something much bigger.

With both Berry and Giliati headed out of town, it frees up one more contract spot that Brian Burke can fill with perhaps another forward.

Neither Alex Berry nor Stefano Giliati have much hope of sticking in the NHL whereas Matt Lashoff has significant up side according to most sources.

According to HF, Lashoff has the potential to become a terrific puck moving defense man and two way player.

The question on most Leafs fans minds is why would Burke be trading for more defense when it seems so clear that the only pressing need facing the club is offense.

The answer is simple really. There are a number of clubs out there who are in the exact opposite position that the Toronto Maple Leafs are and will be more than happy to relieve Brian Burke of a couple of young, quality defensive players like Lashoff and Aullie.

Don't expect Lashoff to remain a Leaf long either way, he is on a one way contract for next season and comes with a cap hit of $555,000.


This is certainly not to say there is an impending deal on the horizon for either player, but Brian Burke doesn't usually make a deal just for the sake of doing so.

With that in mind, there are still rumors circulating that Tomas Kaberle could be traded. As unlikely as that may seem, a package that would give a team both Kaberle and a potential future Kaberle (with an edge) would be enticing to a lot of teams.

This of course would mean that Tomas Kaberle would have to waive his no-trade clause and as we all know, Toronto Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke has stated publicly on numerous occasions that he will not ask a player to do so.

So while, it seems to make sense that Lashoff is just passing through, with the Leafs now boasting a league high in defensive payroll at just over 28.3 million and nine NHL contracts, some one will have to go regardless.

Most of you are wondering why Jeff Finger hasn't been mentioned. Well the truth is most of the fans and media surrounding the team are under the impression that Finger will eventually be put on waivers, which indecently he has publicly stated that he would be more than happy with, and then sent to the minors.

Two issues with that are Burke has flip flopped on that notion. He said early in the season that it was a possibility but when asked recently about the same sort of deal but instead of going to the minors he would be 'loaned' to a KHL team, Burke said that he wouldn't be willing to do that type of thing.

The second issue is that he is worth zero to the Leafs in the minors but could be made part of a deal that involved a middle of the road forward with the same type of contract coming back.

If such a deal could be found, and it is possible (remember Jason Blake?), it would still mean there would be one too many NHL defense men on the team.

The next most rumored defenseman to Kaberle has been Beauchemin. It makes sense that he would garner some interest, he has highly sought after experience and is over all a pretty solid player, which is exactly why the Leafs should keep him and deal one of the younger players.

No disrespect to any of the wonderful crop of young D-men both on the team and in the system, but strangely enough the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from and old team with suspect leadership, to a team with ton's of youth and while Phanuef will be a great captain, the Leafs will still need the veteran presence that Beauchemin provides.

Now, with the Penguins all but officially out of the Billy Guerin race........


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