As of 1/26/11, the Leafs are 12 points out of the playoffs with 33 games remaining. It's not impossible, but it's unlikely given their schedule is void of any extended homestands or non-playoff opponents. In fact, 30 of their 34 games are against quality foes. In February, they play three road games against Montreal, Boston and Buffalo. At the end of March they square off against Minnesota, Colorado and Detroit on the road with two games against Boston (one home, one away) and a home game against Buffalo.
That schedule is daunting for the best of teams, but less can be expected from the Leafs since they figure to be neck deep in rumors and transactions. They could be a shell of a team. Consider that when Boston plays them there is added interest in beating them since Toronto's record influences where Boston's first-round pick will be as the last part of the Phil Kessel trade.
A best-case scenario depends on what you deem to be more important. Is it the present or the long-term future?
That's what Brian Burke will struggle with over the next five weeks. A vote of confidence from ownership could help him make the shrewd move over the quick fix.
The smart move could easily be trading away players like Giguere, Kaberle, Komisarek and just about anyone else for a fair price. The idea here is to acquire draft picks and create more cap space for maximum flexibility once the offseason hits.
The suggestion isn't just to give up and disappoint the fanbase. It's to spark a bigger future.