Buy low and sell high.
That is the theory, right? Given the high price Brian Burke was able to secure for trading out roster players like Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kaberle – perhaps following that theory should be the primary focus for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But, tomorrow is the NHL trade deadline, and fans in Toronto are expecting Burke to be a buyer. Heck, even Burke has told the world that he intends to be a buyer. The team itself seems to believe they should be buyers, having clawed themselves into the playoff race by currently sitting only four points out of the last playoff spot.
At least, they did up until around the end of the second period against Atlanta.
The largest tangible factor to the Leafs surge up the standings seemed to be the play of rookie goaltender James Reimer. After taking the knee of Evander Kane to his head, Reimer pulled himself out of a game where he seemed well on the way to a shutout against an Atlanta team they are fighting against for that final playoff spot.
It was a very bad sign and a possible indication of a serious injury.
The Leafs team seemed to completely fall apart afterwards, when an obviously still-injured J.S. Giguere came in to close out the game. Starting with a 2-0 lead in the third period, Toronto ended up losing the game 3-2 in overtime.
If the Reimer injury report this evening seems to indicate anything that is at all serious, Burke will have to consider reassessing his teams focus from being buyers to becoming sellers.
Where young, controllable and affordable players such as Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Carl Gunnarson would have been almost untouchable when Burke was operating as a buyer, it is not unreasonable to assume that all three might now become available.
Will any or all of these players move?
Well, Burke will not be kicking them out the door in case you were wondering.
But, I think it is likely that they will suddenly become more available than they were as early as this morning. Burke may look more seriously about the chances of prying Brayden Schenn out of the Los Angeles Kings or, prying away some of the top prospects from any franchise who is desperate to make that post-season push towards the Stanley Cup.
There is no assurance that Burke will find a trade partner who is willing to over-pay for any of these players, but I suspect that he is working the phone lines as you read this, to see if there is anyone who might.
I do not think anyone could have pictured this scenario at the start of the season, but the reality is this: With the injury to Reimer, no matter what other trades are made, the chances of a post-season berth for the Toronto Maple Leafs are now essentially gone.
Burke will now have to act accordingly.
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