Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Trades That Could Make the Leafs a Playoff Contender

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IMay 22, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Trades That Could Make the Leafs a Playoff Contender

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    MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 26:  President & General Manager Brian Burke (L) and head coach Ron Wilson (R) of the Toronto Maple Leafs talk with Genral Manager Joe Nieuwendyk of the Dallas Stars prior to the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Cent
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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.

Toronto and Music City USA Hook Up for a Minor Trade

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    GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 16:  Matthew Lombardi #15 of the Phoenix Coyotes scores a second period goal through the legs of goaltender Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Second Round Pick 2011

    Nashville Trades:

    Matthew Lombardi

    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.





Blue Jackets Swing a Small Deal with the Leafs

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 24:  R.J. Umberger #18 of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on March 24, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Blue Jackets 3-0. (Photo b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Tyler Bozak

    First Round Pick 2011 (#25)

    Columbus Trades:

    R.J. Umberger

    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.





Leafs Gamble and Trade for Chris Drury

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19:  Chris Drury #23 of the New York Rangers skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Fourth Round Pick 2011

    Two First Round Picks #25 and #28 in 2011

    New York Trades:

    Chris Drury

    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.





Sharks and Leafs Hook Up for Minor Trade

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    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 20: Devin Setoguchi #16 of the San Jose Sharks falls over goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks in the first period in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on Ma
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Clarke MacArthur

    First Round Pick #28

    Second Round Pick #39

    San Jose Trades:

    Devin Setoguchi

    Charlie Coyle

    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.





Toronto and St. Louis Swap Centers in Mini-Blockbuster

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 22:  T.J. Oshie #74 of the St. Louis Blues awaits a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on March 22, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Blues 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Tyler Bozak

    #28 selection 2011 NHL Draft

    St. Louis Trades:

    T.J. Oshie

    #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.





Dale Tallon and Brian Burke Discuss Draft Day Deal, Leafs Add Stephen Weiss

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 26:  Blake Wheeler #26 of the Boston Bruins tries to get the puck from Stephen Weiss #9 of Florida Panthers on January 26, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Ima
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Two First Round Picks (#25 and #28) 2011

    Rights to Winger Luca Caputi

    Florida Trades:

    Stephen Weiss

    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.





Maple Leafs and Avalanche Hook Up for a Blockbuster

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    ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 27:  Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 27, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Tyler Bozak

    Jake Gardiner

    Two First Round Picks #25 and #28 in 2011

    Colorado Trades:

    Paul Stastny

    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.








Leafs Give Philly a Hand and Get Them out of Cap Hell, Leafs Add Jeff Carter

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 04:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers tries to keep the puck from Michael Ryder #73 of the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 4 , 2011 in
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Joe Colborne

    Brad Ross

    Jussi Rynnas

    First Round Pick (#25) in 2011

    Philadelphia Trades:

    Jeff Carter

    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.





It's Bizzare-O World, Leafs and Sens Complete Huge Blockbuster

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    OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 2: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck on a break away against Keith Aulie #59 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place on April 2, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle
    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Nazem Kadri

    Tyler Bozak (Resigned)

    Two First Round Picks (#25 and #28) in 2011

    Ottawa Trades:

    Jason Spezza

    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.





Lightning Strikes Leafs Nation as Leafs Pull off a Mammoth Trade with Tampa

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    TAMPA, FL - MAY 19:  Vincent Lecavalier #4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during warm ups against the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at St Pete Times Forum on May 19, 2011 in Tamp
    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Toronto Trades:

    Nazem Kadri

    Jonas Gustavsson

    Clarke MacArthur

    Brad Ross

    Tampa Bay Trades:

    Vincent LeCavalier

    Ryan Malone

    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.