NHL Trade Rumors: Top 5 Players the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Sell

Erik PaulCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2011

NHL Trade Rumors: Top 5 Players the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Sell

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    Whose on the way out?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    As most hockey fans know, and Leafs Nation is all too sick of hearing, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on pace to give the Boston Bruins another lottery pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.

    The Leafs are 12th place in the Eastern Conference, and 26th in the league. They rank 23rd in goals for, 20th in goals against, and 26th on the penalty kill. They have only 18 wins in 43 games.

    Yet, for reasons we mere mortals can't seem to understand, Brian Burke has said that the Leafs will be buyers as we approach the trade deadline.

    Burke recently said to Toronto AM 640, “As we get closer to the deadline we’re gonna try to add. If we get a pick as part of a bigger deal that’s fine, but we’re not looking to dump here, we’re looking to add.”

    This goes against all conventional wisdom in the National Hockey League, which says that if you have little or no hope of making the playoffs, you should try to get something in exchange for the players who will become unrestricted free agents after the season.

    Then again, conventional wisdom and the Leafs rarely go hand-in-hand. On that note, let's take a look at the top five players that the Toronto Maple Leafs should sell to the highest bidder in the hopes that the perennial rebuild will end sometime in the next few years.

Honorable Mention: Ron Wilson

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    If it were possible to trade a coach, or if it were possible that anyone would want him, I would highly encourage the Leafs to consider shipping out head coach Ron Wilson.

    Back in December, the Edmonton Oilers beat the Leafs 5-0 on home ice, during which the fans chanted "Fire Wilson." Afterward, Brian Burke told TSN, "No coaching change."

    It's too bad he didn't listen to the fans.

    Despite the fact that Wilson recently became just the seventh coach in NHL history to win 600 games, he's been bad for the Leafs.

    It's time for him to go, and the team to bring in a head coach with a track record of nurturing young players, and helping them improve.

Mikhail Grabovski: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

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    Mikhail Grabovski, at 26 years of age, is in the midst of a career season and has arguably been the Leafs' best player this season.

    The tough question is do the Leafs believe he is just starting to break out, and that he'll only get better? Or do they believe he's just on a fantastic hot streak, and that he'll sink back down to reality soon?

    If they think he's just on a hot streak, then it's prime time to sell high. If they think he's going to keep getting better, then keep him as a piece of the core moving forward.

    Why He's Valuable

    Grabovski is having a phenomenal season (by his standards) with 18 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. He also leads the Leafs in plus/minus.

    He's extremely fast, and has great moves, especially in the shootout. He's also developed a scoring touch this year, and is on pace for 34 goals, which would smash his previous high of 20.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    St. Louis, Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix, Anaheim, Montreal, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington

    Potential Return

    With Grabovski's scoring this season, he could probably fetch a first round pick or a prospect on the level of Max Pacioretty.

5. Francois Beachemin

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    The 30-year-old defenseman from Sorel, Quebec has a limited no-trade clause, in which he has a list of 12 teams he can be traded to.

    The Leafs should be able to find a taker on that list as many teams are desperate for defensive help.

    Why He's Valuable

    Beauchemin won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. His experience could be invaluable. He's also a pretty reliable defensive defenseman, who was good enough to be invited to the Team Canada Olympic Orientation Camp in the summer of 2009.

    While Beauchemin hasn't had his best season this year, he's only a minus-three, which isn't too bad on the 26th place team in the league.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    San Jose, Montreal, Boston, Washington

    Potential Return

    He's been rumored to San Jose in exchange for Devin Setoguchi recently, and that's about the right quality of player to expect for Beauchemin.

    I could see Montreal offering Scott Gomez (and his massive contract) in exchange for Beauchemin, which could give Toronto a playmaking center to play with Phil Kessel. Toronto has the cap space to pick up Gomez.

4. Kris Versteeg

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    Kris Versteeg has been having a pretty good season, with 12 goals and 19 assists in 41 games, but is an abysmal minus-11.

    At 24, Versteeg offers some intriguing upside, but could also bring in some valuable assets.

    Why He's Valuable

    Versteeg offers youth, speed, Cup-winning experience, and potential. He can also play on a scoring or checking line.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    St. Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, Tampa Bay, Atlanta

    Potential Return

    The Leafs could expect a player like Eric Fehr of Washington, or picks and prospects in return for Versteeg.

3. Jean-Sebastien Giguere

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    The veteran goalie from Montreal will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

    He has a no-trade clause, but has publicly said he's willing to discuss waiving it.

    Trading Giguere would also make space on the NHL roster for recently demoted James Reimer, who played extremely well for the Leafs while Giguere and Gustavsson were injured.

    Why He's Valuable

    Giguere is nothing if not clutch. He's one of only five players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP without being on the Cup-winning team.

    He's also an upcoming unrestricted free agent, so teams aren't tied down next season if his acquisition doesn't fit their long term plans.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington, Colorado

    Potential Return

    Giguere should command a pretty good return, along the lines of Jamie McGinn, TJ Galiardi or Andreas Nodl.

2. Clarke MacArthur

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    Clarke MacArthur is making the Buffalo Sabres regret their decision to turn down his arbitration awarded contract of $2.2 million.

    The Leafs are loving their decision to sign him as a free agent for $1.1 million.

    MacArthur is leading the Leafs in scoring, and already has a career high for points in a season, with 37.

    Why trade him then?

    Well, he's going to need a substantial raise on his current contract, and if the Leafs can't get that negotiated soon, they won't want to lose him for nothing.

    If he really does enjoy playing in Toronto, then the Leafs could trade him for assets now, then sign him as an unrestricted free agent over the summer.

    Why He's Valuable

    He's having a great season, and is a grinding power forward who can score. In other words, Clarke MacArthur is built for playoff hockey.

    He also has a small salary, which opens up the options for teams looking to trade for him.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    Almost anyone near the playoffs right now would happily find space for MacArthur.

    Potential Return

    Someone along the lines of Andreas Nodl, Mikael Samuelsson or a package of Niklas Bergfors and Patrice Cormier.

1. Tomas Kaberle

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    While Brian Burke has already said that he won't ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause, he definitely should.

    Kaberle has close to, if not the most value of any current Leaf, and would bring in a good return. There are several teams needing defensemen, and those teams have plenty to offer the Leafs.

    Alas, Burke is being ridiculously stubborn, and probably deserves to lose his job because of it.

    As was the way with Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle probably won't be traded this season, and will instead depart as an unrestricted free agent this summer, leaving the Leafs with even less assets than they have now.

    Why He's Valuable

    I call Tomas Kaberle the "homeless man's Nick Lidstrom," and that is in no way an insult to Kaberle, but rather a compliment to Lidstrom's dominance.

    What I mean by that is that both are very good skaters, great offensively and both play sound defense while rarely ever taking penalties.

    Kaberle comes with a very affordable cap hit of $4.25 million, and his contract is up after this season.

    He is arguably the best rental player potentially available this trade deadline.

    Potentially Interested Teams

    Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Montreal, San Jose

    Potential Return

    Kaberle would bring in a substantial return in the form of at least a first round draft choice.

    An interesting potential scenario is Kaberle to Boston for Marc Savard. It would rid the Bruins of a lengthy, expensive contract, while at the same time giving them an elite offensive defenseman to complement elite shutdown D-man Zdeno Chara. Toronto would get their long-desired play-making center, who already has great chemistry with Phil Kessel.

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    Thanks for reading. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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