As was 2010 was ushered out and 2011 was ushered in, one main thing happened in Toronto-- the trading freeze Brian Burke puts in at the beginning of December was lifted, and the speculation can once again begin in the city of Toronto.
Who are the Leafs looking to deal? Who are they looking to keep? Will the Leafs make another huge splash just prior to the deadline like they did last year with the Dion Phaneuf and JS Giguere trades?
Right now, the main focus of the Leafs is to acquire some more scoring options up front. Ranked nearly dead last in the NHL in goals for prior to the St. Louis and Atlanta games, the Leafs are inconsistent at best on the offensive end of things. If they ranked in the top half of the NHL in goals for, they would likely be in the playoffs, rather than on the outside looking in.
Some of the guys you may not agree with trading, but in the grand scheme of things, it could make the Leafs better long-term.
Here's the list of potential Leafs that could be targets for other NHL clubs at the deadline.
Heading into the season, Clarke MacArthur was an after thought for many NHL clubs. Having not be offered arbitration by the Atlanta Thrashers, the Leafs opted to sign the streaky forward to a one-year contract.
He started off the season on fire, but has since cooled down. In 40 games this season, MacArthur has 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points. It's nothing extravagant, but he has been very effective for the Leafs this season.
Contract: $1.10 million, RFA next season
Teams that could be interested in him?: Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Buffalo
Trade I'd like to see: To LA along with Keith Aulie for Defenceman Derek Forbert and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Does This Make Sense?: The Kings are blessed with incredible depth defensively in their farm system, so they give up on of their best, in an attempt to give their top six more depth. MacArthur at 1.1 million, is a cheaper option than Ponikarovsky and the Kings can hold onto him with his RFA status. Ponikarovsky will likely be let go at the end of the season by the Leafs, adding to their already growing cap space heading into the offseason.
Forbert has more offensive upside than Aulie, and to add, Forbert is also 6'5" and 200 pounds at the ripe age of 18.
Kris Versteeg was acquired by the Leafs this offseason in a blockbuster trade with the current Stanley Cup Champ Chicago Blackhawks in an attempt to get more NHL depth up front.
With some mixed reviews, Versteeg has been a pretty nice addition to the Leafs squad. With his play, he is drawing plenty of interest from many teams.
Contract: $3.083 million, RFA 2012
Teams that could be interested in him?: Chicago, New Jersey, New York Rangers
Trade I'd like to see: To New Jersey Devils for Travis Zajac
Does This Make Sense?: Devils are struggling even more offensively than the Leafs this season. One main thing missing from the Devils attack is winger Zack Parise, who is a sure bet for at least 35 goals a season. There have been rumors circulating about a potential deal here with the two, and to me Zajac at 6'3" 200 pounds, would be a great addition to then Leafs attack, despite the Leafs losing their powerplay point presence and third line checker.
Giguere was acquired by the Leafs on January 31st, 2010 in a three player trade with the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs dealt Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake to get Giguere.
Giguere has had a decent career as a Leaf, but has certainly not lived up to his lofty contract while playing here in Toronto. With the emergence of James Reimer, who looks to be a much cheaper and more effective back-up goaltender, the Leafs will be looking to move Giguere's massive expiring contract this deadline.
Contract: $6.0 million, UFA this offseason.
Teams that could be interested in him?: Chicago, Ottawa
Trade I'd like to see: To Ottawa along with Tyler Bozak for Jason Spezza
Does This Make Sense?: The Leafs have lacked a first line center for years since the days of Mats Sundin. Here with this move the Leafs acquire that first line center, but also shed some salary in the process. Bozak is a cheaper, younger option for the Senators, who are also in great need for a goaltender with the injury to Pascal LeClaire and a very ineffective Brian Elliott. In fact, they have called up Robin Lehner on an emergency basis.
Jason Spezza comes home to the pressure cooker known as Toronto. Maybe some of the pressure going onto Spezza's shoulders would help Phil Kessel just play his game? It's just a thought.
Mikhail Grabovski has really started to hit his stride this season. Coming into the season however, Grabovski, according to some pundits such as myself, believed he was one of the worst second-line centers in the NHL.
After 40 games, and 17 goals later, I'll admit the mistake and say Grabovski has been one of the better second-line centers in the league.
With that said, will his value get any higher than it is right now? Probably not. If the deal of a lifetime comes along, would Brian Burke be dumb enough not to do it because "Grabovski has been stellar lately". I hope that's not the case
Contract: $2.9 million, UFA 2012.
Teams that could be interested in him?: Dallas, Buffalo, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix
Trade I'd like to see: To Dallas along with Francois Beauchemin for Brad Richards
Does This Make Sense?: A deal that has been long discussed here on the Leafs section here at Bleacher Report, this deal would make the most sense for the Leafs. Hopefully the Leafs would come to an agreement with Richards on an extension before unrestricted free agency begins on July 1st this year.
"Grabbo" is a much cheaper option for the Pacific Division leading Stars, who are still having ownership issues and questions marks are abound if they can afford Richards this offseason. This move ensures the Stars that they will have a top six center, but also add some depth to a very mediocre Stars defence.
Will he stay? Will he be dealt? Those were the questions being asked last offseason with regard to the status of the Leafs best overall defenceman. The Leafs, not happy with the offers, opted to keep the quiet Kaberle around.
Having one of the best contracts for a player of his skill is a definite asset for the Leafs heading into the deadline, as many teams will be looking for that extra rental piece to put them over the top, in hopes of winning the Stanley Cup
Contract: $4.25 million, UFA this offseason.
Teams that could be interested in him?: Washington, Vancouver, Tampa Bay, San Jose, Buffalo, Boston,
Trade I'd like to see: To Washington for Karl Alzner and Dmitri Orlov
Does This Make Sense?: This move is done for the future of the franchise. Alzner is a steady presence on the back end, who won't wow you with his offensive skills, but defensively, he's a great player. Similar to Luke Schenn in some respects. Orlov on the other hand, is probably the best offensive defenceman in the Caps system right now. Blessed with a cannon of a shot he showed this year at the World Juniors, Orlov has powerplay quarterback written all over him.
Some people have compared his point shot to Shea Weber and Dion Phaneuf's slap shot. Hopefully Orlov is a tad more accurate than Phaneuf though.
For the Caps, they upgrade here with Kaberle and further stretch the opposition. Their defence would probably be rivaled by all in the Eastern Conference with Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson, Tom Poti, and Scott Hannan on the teams back-end.
That's my best deal, but I'll outline a few more.
Buffalo: Zack Kassian and Mark Pysyk
Vancouver: Cody Hodgson and a Draft Pick
Tampa Bay: Ryan Malone
San Jose: Jason Demers and Charlie Coyle (Deal I also liked a lot, was in between the Washington deal and this one)
Boston: Joe Colbourne and our pick back (Fat chance!, but one can hope)