As we close in on the finish of the 2010-11 season, NHL teams begin their offseason plans in hopes of turning around their franchise, or in some cases, adding depth to their clubs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a curious case. Some experts believe they are only one or two players away from the playoffs, while other naysayers still don't believe in James Reimer and think this team is at least two years before they will contend.
With that said, here are 10 deals I hope are fairly realistic trades that the Leafs could make that will improve the team for next seasons playoff push.
Second Round Pick 2011
This is one of those under the radar moves that could prove to be deadly for the Leafs.
The Preds right now are pretty locked in at center these days with Legwand-Fisher-O'Reilly (or Wilson)-Goc as their centermen for next season if Goc returns as a free agent.
Having Lombardi take up $3.5 million in cap space and being a replaceable part doesn't make much sense for them. They get an asset and acquire a top 40 selection.
For the Leafs, this move gives them more speed up the middle and a great replacement for Darryl Boyce on the third line. Lombardi as well has played some top six minutes, but with his speed and defensive skill, a bottom six role is probably more down his alley.
If he is unable to comeback from injuries or just plain doesn't fit in, he can be swapped at the deadline as he is a unrestricted free agent the next season.
First Round Pick 2011 (#25)
Second Round Pick 2011 (#38)
This deal is probably right up Brian Burke's alley. Umberger is a very good two-way centerman. Although he may not be a first line center, he is still big, strong, good in the corners and can play with snipers quite well, like Rick Nash.
He is owed $4.5 million this upcoming season, but will be an UFA next season. Could you say this is perfect timing to give Joe Colborne a little bit of a break from some pressure of playing top two line duties? It's definitely a good idea nonetheless.
Fourth Round Pick 2011
Two First Round Picks #25 and #28 in 2011
New York Trades:
First Round Pick #15 in 2011
For Toronto, this move is a definite gamble given the decline and the injuries that Drury has sustained in his last few years as a Ranger. But given his production in the past, I think adding him would be a pretty good move for the Leafs.
Drury brings a willingness to compete, veteran leadership and some faceoff ability to a team that really is in need of it.
The best part about this is that he is only owed $5 million next season, and if it doesn't work out, he also is an unrestricted free agent at year's end. If it doesn't work out, the Leafs are not on the hook for a terrible contract like in years past.
The Leafs are very impressed with Mark McNeill according to some rumors I'm reading, and I believe they'll look to trade up to draft him. He has drawn comparisons to one of Brian Burke's former centers, Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks.
For the Rangers, I believe they will be going after Brad Richards hard and having the extra space with Drury gone would be a benefit for the club.
First Round Pick #28
Second Round Pick #39
San Jose Trades:
Both players are restricted free agents, but MacArthur right now is the more consistent of the two. Setoguchi is two years younger than MacArthur and has had a 30 goal season in the NHL, but he's been consistently inconsistent for the Sharks.
I'm a big fan of Charlie Coyle of the Sharks and would love to somehow get him on the Leafs. If I have to add in another prospect in this deal I would. Coyle was taken 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and had a decent year this past year with Boston University.
Coyle can play both wing and center, but is more suited to play center. I believe compared to the talent this year, that Coyle would be taken in the top 20 of this years draft, had he been eligible for the 2011 draft.
#28 selection 2011 NHL Draft
St. Louis Trades:
#41 selection 2011 NHL Draft
Both Oshie and Bozak are restricted free agents this offseason, but Oshie has had a slightly better start to his NHL career. A former first round pick, Oshie has struggled with injuries for most of his NHL career. Last year he was only limited to 49 games, in which he tallied 34 points.
Had he played a full season, he was on pace for around 60 points.
As for Bozak, the pressure of playing in Toronto may of been getting to him, and his real inability to put the puck in the net spells the end of Bozak in Toronto.
The Leafs trade out of the first round, but still manage to get a second round pick out of the deal. The draft is pretty even after the first 15 picks or so, so trading down may be a smart move in the grand scheme of things.
Two First Round Picks (#25 and #28) 2011
Rights to Winger Luca Caputi
Third Round Pick 2011
A little bit of a simpler deal here, but an effective one nonetheless. The Leafs here add another decent centerman, albeit, still not a first line centerman on a good team, but he's still a good all-around player.
Weiss reminds me plenty of Matt Stajan, a longtime former Leaf player. His game is solid, but is he really a first line center. That's really up for debate.
Two First Round Picks #25 and #28 in 2011
John Michael Liles
A tough deal to gamble on, but with this move the Leafs get their coveted first line center and a powerplay quarterback without losing the likes of Joe Colborne and Nazem Kadri. Stastny is a good distributor and a solid all around guy to have on a team and would be one of the more ideal set-up guys for Phil Kessel.
Toronto loses Bozak whom goes back to his college roots and plays in Denver, where he used to go to school. The two first round picks are in a weak draft, but they can also parlay both of them into a higher first round pick as well.
First Round Pick (#25) in 2011
Another one of those deals that you may think is a massive overpay, but you do have to give up talent to get talent in return.
Carter, who was playing out of position with the Flyers on right wing, is one of the better finishing centers in the NHL and with a modest salary, he isn't one of the more overpaid ones.
The Flyers have a number of needs heading into the offseason. They need to build up their farm system, they need some goaltending depth, and most importantly, they need to reduce some salary in order to add that goaltender this offseason that they sorely need.
Rynnas is a decent prospect who will likely be a top five prospect for Philadelphia. Ross is your prototypical Flyer who has some hands and an innate ability to frustrate the opposition. Some believe he'll be like a Steve Ott type of player, while I believe if given the right line-mates, he could evolve into a Alex Burrows-like player.
Tyler Bozak (Resigned)
Two First Round Picks (#25 and #28) in 2011
This one may take some time to digest, but in the end, it may make some sense long-term.
For the Senators, a team on the re-build, being strapped down to Spezza's rather large contract, and end up getting two very good young players.
The Senators have always liked Nazem Kadri and here is their chance to get him. Leafs gamble here and trade away plenty of young talent just to get that elusive first line center.
Spezza's amazing performance at the World's this past May gave me hope. Although he had a pretty ugly last game for Team Canada, his tournament was close to dominant and his skill and vision were top notch. Spezza coming home to Toronto may just be what the doctor ordered for the Leafs.
Tampa Bay Trades:
With this move the Lightning shed a bunch of salary to sign Steven Stamkos, whom I believe would've been signed anyways. But by having large contracts in Martin St. Louis, Vinny LeCavalier and Ryan Malone holding the club down for the next few years, it does not make sense for the team going forward having that much money tied up in four players.
Nazem Kadri has been compared to St. Louis by a few experts, and I can really see the comparison. It took St. Louis a few years to figure things out and today he's one of the best set-up guys in the NHL. With Gustavsson, the Lightning get a large netminder who comes in as Dwayne Roloson's replacement.
MacArthur is a cheaper, more productive version of Malone, without the size. MacArthur is a restricted free agent, so he'll need to be re-signed. Brad Ross is another good prospect in the Leafs system who has drawn comparisons to Alex Burrows.