With the NHL trade deadline just under one month away many players on the Leafs’ roster are sure to garner much attention, but for a certain lucky group of seven, trade speculations will be extremely high.
Rumor mills consistently feed the media enthralled storm that surrounds the NHL and will no doubt grow tenfold from now until the February 28 trade deadline. Players who dawn the Blue and White grow accustomed to the mass media spectacle that is made out of their playing careers. These seven players better have thick skin because the trade heats are turning up.
The following is a ranking of seven Leafs’ that are sure to fill the rumor mills up to the deadline. These players may be traded individually, or may be packaged as part of a bigger deal. But guaranteed, not all the names on this list will be found on the Leafs’ roster after 3pm on February 28.
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Michael Komisarek was a rock in Montreal, but has yet to find similar defensive prowess in Toronto. Injuries were blamed for a poor first season as a Leaf, so fans were optimistic that they would witness a revived Komisarek this season. However, his numbers have worsened and the coaching staff has lost confidence in his abilities, decreasing his average ice time to just over 13 minutes per game.
At a ridiculous cap hit of $4.5 million. Burke will have a tough time trading a player who has found a diminished role on an already poor team, but elsewhere Komisarek may thrive given the chance to play more quality minutes.
Clarke MacArthur is arguably the best UFA (unrestricted free agent) signing of last summer. He has surprised Leafs Nation with a scoring touch previously unseen in his career.
Along with line mates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, MacArthur has found chemistry on the Leafs’ second unit that has earned top line minutes in even strength and power play situations.
With all these great reasons, why would MacArthur’s name pop up in trade rumours?
He signed a one year deal, and frankly, Brian Burke has to decide if this season is a flash in the pan, or if he thinks MacArthur can repeat his success in years to come. MacArthur’s strong season has increased his value around the league so Burke has to decide if it’s time to cash in the chips, or lock up his new found talent on a long term contract extension.
Fredrik Sjostrom came to the Leafs’ in the same trade that brought in Dion Phaneuf. At first, his speed and penalty killing abilities proved to be excellent assets, but injures and poor play have landed him in a diminished role.
Unfortunately for Sjostrom, penalty killing roles have become the forte of other players such as Tim Brent and Mike Brown. With a severely reduced workload, Sjostrom has become a victim of numbers.
While the return may not be high to trade him alone, don’t be surprised to see him packaged in as value-added auxiliary to a bigger deal.
Tomas Kaberle has a no-trade clause that we are all very aware of, but that has never stopped his name from swirling in the trade winds.
If Kaberle were to opt out of his no-trade many teams around the league would love to acquire his breakout passing ability, power play effectiveness and veteran presence.
He becomes an UFA July 1, so don’t expect too much in return for this potential rental player. Regardless, Kaberle has the sole ability to control the pace of the game from the back end which makes him an extremely attractive asset.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere started the season off strong, but has since dropped out of favor in Leafs Nation. He is on record saying that if a possible trade was to come up he would at the very least give Burkey the respect of considering waiving his no-trade clause.
Giguere is in the final year of his deal that earns him a cool $6 million per season. At that rate, Burke will be hard pressed to find a winning team that has the cap space to fit Giguere in.
Combine his large salary with inconsistent play all season, as well as a nagging groin injury, and Giguere may have to ride out the remainder of the season as a Maple Leaf.
However, he has won a cup and is well-known around the league for his leadership both on and off the ice. On a strong defensive team Guiguere could do some damage in the playoffs, so get used to hearing his name pop-up in rumors until the deadline.
Kris Versteeg has underachieved for Burke and the Maple Leafs. However, he is a slippery player with quick hands and a keen scoring touch.
Versteeg is a good young talent and has shown signs of brilliancy in the past, and don’t fail to take into consideration his recent Stanley Cup win with the Chicago Blackhawks. Given the proper supporting cast he has proved to be a versatile asset, scoring goals up front and from the point.
His potential value alone justifies his name being on this list, combine that with his lack of success as a Leaf, and the chances for a trade are extremely high.
In the case of Versteeg, the potential return from a trade may outweigh the risk of holding onto him and hoping for success in the foreseeable future. Not to mention the fact that he has been rumoured to want out of Toronto.
Francois Beauchemin is the most-likely player on the Maple Leafs to be traded prior to the deadline for a few reasons.
He has proved to be a winner in the past, and his veteran presence on the blue line would be a welcomed addition to virtually any contending team.
With a manageable cap hit of $3.8 million, don’t be surprised to hear his name pop up quite often in trade rumours. He may even be headed back from whilst he came, as the Anaheim Ducks are seeking to bolster their back end.