NHL Trade Rumours: 10 Players Who Could Help The Toronto Maple Leafs
With the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 28, the time remaining for teams to make those tweaks, or major moves to their rosters is dwindling by the day.
Teams have just a few weeks to decide whether they're buyers, sellers, or spectators on the busiest day of the schedule...that is, if they haven't decided already.
When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Brian Burke, trying to figure what exactly they are going to be at the deadline is a little tricky.
They're in need of some offensive talent, and have more than one player with an expiring contract at the end of the year that would be smart to move.
But their playoff chances are slim, and whether they can actually acquire any significant talent on what might be the most overrated day in the NHL, is debatable.
It certainly will be interesting to see what happens, and whether it was worth it to take off the entire day of work to watch endless analysis of which third-liner will have zero effect on his new team.
As the season wears on, the list of possible players on the move changes, so here's an updated list of 10 players who could help the Leafs this season and beyond.
Stephen Weiss: Florida Panthers
The Leafs are in need of a scoring center, and Stephen Weiss might be just the answer as Florida has been in the news as a club looking to move some bodies.
His 28 goals last season was a career high, and certainly pumped up his trade value on the market, but you can bet the Panthers won't just be giving him away.
The 27-year-old will come at a cost, one that the Leafs should be willing to pay considering their talent level up the middle.
Weiss would fit in perfectly, with his speed and skill around the net. He also has found himself fitting the setup man role quite well the past few seasons, showing he can both score and share the love.
It doesn't take a genius to realize the Leafs need help at center, and Weiss might finally be just the man to fill that role of setting up, well, you know who.
Dustin Penner: Edmonton Oilers
Dustin Penner just never seems able to fit in for long on any team he plays for, which may be a good enough sign to stay away, but the Leafs could seriously use his size and play around the net.
And if there's a trade rumour including Edmonton, his name usually is included. This season is no different.
Penner had a career year in 2009-10 with the Oilers, scoring 32 goals and 63 points, and putting a winger who stands 6'4", 245 pounds on the Leafs top line could add a little bit of everything that they're missing...especially a big body in front of the net.
He's owed $4.25 million this season and next, which isn't too much to pay for a player who is capable of putting up 30-plus goals.
He has 17 goals this season through 51 games, and is one guy who would look great in a Leafs jersey.
Jakub Voracek: Columbus Blue Jackets
It's rare for a team to willingly give up a 21-year-old forward with a ton of talent, but various rumours have been swirling as of late that the Columbus Blue Jackets might be willing to give up Jakub Voracek for the right price...though that price is most certainly a very high one.
The Leafs chances at snagging him are slim, seeing as they don't have a whole lot that the Blue Jackets would want, but with Burke at the helm, you just never know.
Voracek is already in his third season, having scored 16 goals and 50 points in 2009-10. He has nine goals and 32 points through 49 games this year, and with him steadily improving each season, it's surprising that they would actually consider letting him go for more experience.
Don't count on this one happening, but with his name floating out there, he would certainly be a player that would help the club both now and for years to come.
Mike Fisher: Ottawa Senators
Word out of Ottawa lately has been that the only two non-tradeable players on the club are captain Daniel Alfredsson and defenseman Erik Karlsson. Other than that, everyone else is up for auction as the Senators plummet down the standings.
Would they really think of trading away one of their more skilled players in Mike Fisher? It's certainly possible...anything seems to be these days in the Nation's capital.
Aside from the obvious rivalry between the two clubs that might hinder a deal, Fisher has a no-trade clause and would most likely squash a move to Toronto. But the feisty 30-year-old is the kind of player that the Leafs need up the middle.
He's struggled at time this season and has just 13 goals and 22 points thus far, but a change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered...even if that meant going to a team that wins only slightly more than in his current situation.
But hey, maybe Mrs. Underwood would like the big city. Because not only does Toronto win slightly more than Ottawa, but it's also a tad warmer in the winter.
What more could you possibly ask for?
Ryan Malone: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are poised for a deep playoff run this season, but before the deadline passes, they may be in the hunt to bolster their blue line.
Ryan Malone is another name that has been mentioned in trade rumours, and though he holds a no-trade clause in his pocket, he could be on the move before the month is up.
The Leafs need a player like Malone, as the 6'4", 219-pound winger would look great on the club. He would add some serious size to a relatively small top-six on Toronto, and with his grit would also make them a little more intimidating. Or just intimidating to start with.
Malone is a five-time 20-goal scorer and with 11 this season, has a great chance to record another.
With players around him on the Lightning performing at such a high level this season, it seems like Malone is the forgotten man often times.
He has played less than 15 minutes on a regular basis recently, and seems like one of the guys who could be expendable.
It remains to be seen, of course, what happens with the Lightning, but if the Leafs are looking for a big man up front, the needn't look much further than Malone.
RJ Umberger: Columbus Blue Jackets
He showed he could be a useful player in his first three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, but for the past two-and-a-half seasons as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, he's proven he can be a force up front.
With 19 goals through 52 games, he's on pace to eclipse his previous career high of 26 (2008-09), and would serve as a player with scoring touch, who isn't afraid to mix it up every once in a while.
Having some toughness on the top two lines is something the Leafs could use, and might spare Clarke MacArthur from having to rag-doll an opponent every month or so.
Devin Setoguchi: San Jose Sharks
Another player who has been in the odd rumour concerning the Leafs, Devin Setoguchi could be another player that would help if he were to bring his talents to, um, the beaches.
Though his game is similar to more than one player on the current roster, and he doesn't play center (which is what the Leafs really need), he would be another guy who could play more than one role on the club.
With perennial stars like Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton on the Sharks, Setoguchi isn't in a starring role, and though he's not the kind of player who's going to score 40 goals, he's got the skill to make a difference on a team.
In 2008-09 he had 31 goals, and though he only has 11 this season, give him a new city to play in, with more of an offensive opportunity, and you just might see the 24-year-old break out yet again.
Blake Wheeler: Boston Bruins
Notice a theme here?
The Leafs clearly need a big, tough guy up front, and if any of the other guys don't pan out, Blake Wheeler has been mentioned dozens of times as a guy who might end up in Toronto.
He's 6'5", 205 pounds, and is yet another guy who can both score, and rough it up when the time comes. The way he plays would make him an excellent addition to most teams, but the Leafs especially.
Think of him like Colby Armstrong, but bigger, and scores more.
Who knows if the Leafs will ever make a trade with the Boston Bruins again, but if there was ever a time to do so, and possibly come out on the winning end (for once, dare I say?), then trading for Wheeler might be it.
Travis Zajac: New Jersey Devils
The likelihood of anyone actually having any idea what will happen next in New Jersey is zero, but there's a good chance that someone of significance could be on their way out.
Travis Zajac is an extremely underrated player who scored 25 goals last season, he can play a mean two-way game, and get this; he plays center.
That's right, Zajac just might be the perfect fit for the Leafs.
He's bigger than he looks (6'3", 200 pounds) and with 40-plus assists in his past two seasons, has shown he can be a valuable player offensively when it comes to creating chances.
If Burke should go after anyone at the trade deadline this season, Zajac is probably the player. He could be the end to all those questions about who could be the setup man for Kessel.
Alexander Semin: Washington Capitals
If the Leafs could ever snag such a sniper. One who had a lethal wrist shot, had some serious speed down the wing, and the potential to change a entire game in one shift.
A player who played when he felt like it, never back-checked, and avoided any body-contact like it was the plague. Or the New York Islanders.
One who handles criticism like a three-year-old, is terrible with the media, and isn't exactly best friends with his head coach.
A player, who when on a line with a superstar, scores goals at will, and yet when put alongside anyone beneath his skill level, looks like an overpaid construction worker on skates.