In Tuesday's interview with Paul Hendrick, Brian Burke stated that he wants to move up in the first round using one of the first-rounders and their second-rounder. He then stated that he will try to acquire a No.1 center on July 1, obviously referring to Brad Richards. If that doesn't work, he will try the trade route. While not mentioned in the interview, the Leafs will need a play-making defenseman if Carl Gunnarsson is not ready to shoulder the workload.
Well, I think I found a way to acquire everything that we either need or want, with a team that has been bandied about in trade rumors with the Leafs for what seems like the entire off-season: the Colorado Avalanche.
The No.1 center I'm referring to is definitely Paul Stastny. Having a down year doesn't necessitate a trade, but Stastny has seemed to be heading out the door since his father, Peter's comments regarding the Erik Johnson trade. Not only that, with the Av's already having Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, Stastny is either forced to play on the second-line or the wing.
With the Leafs, Stastny would surely rebound from the off year he had this past season. In between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, I would not be surprised to see Stastny reach 50 to 60 assists, maybe even more. In the 2009-10 season, Stastny tallied 50 or more assists for the second time in his career, narrowly missing the milestone by three points in 2007-08. The chance to enhance his point totals with the Leafs is clearly there.
Now the play-making defenseman, John-Michael Liles. Rumored to be on the market at the trade deadline, the Leafs could not work out a deal to make Liles a Leaf then. It could happen now. Liles has the potential to match what Tomas Kaberle did for us for so many years, and at 30-years-old, he would give the Leafs another leader on the blueline.
With only one year left on his contract, if he doesn't work out, he could potentially become a trade commodity at the deadline and at that point, Jesse Blacker or Jake Gardiner could be called up. So in a worst-case scenario, this at least gives the play-making defensemen in the Leafs' system another year to develop to be ready in 2012-13.
When it comes to the draft, Colorado has two picks in the top 15 at No.2 and No.11. You can forget about the second pick, that's not moving. The 11th pick, however, might be in reach for the Leafs. With that pick, the Leafs could take a player like Mark McNeill or Jamie Oleksiak.
Now, the inevitable question: what do we give up?
Well, what Leaf fans have to recognize is that any trade for Stastny or any player like him will have to include Nazem Kadri going the other way. Sure, I'm going to receive arguments that Kadri could develop into a Stastny-type player down the road. The keyword there is "could." If he ever does, it probably won't be for another three or four years. I would rather have Stastny himself, who could be our No.1 center for the potentially the next decade.
As for the 11th pick, if it's going to take the 25th and 39th picks to get a pick in the 15-20 range, then we throw in Philadelphia's third-rounder as well. Currently, the Av's don't have any picks in the second- or third-rounds. This trade would give them picks in the first three rounds while maintaining two first-rounders.
As for Liles, it could be a prospect or a young roster player going the other way.
Mike Komisarek would probably have to go the other way to ensure that Colorado reaches the cap floor. Jonas Gustavsson will also likely be heading to Colorado to help with their goaltending depth. I'm not saying he would be the starter, but there is no question that they need goaltending help.
So the full deal would look something like this:
To Toronto: Paul Stastny John-Michael Liles, 11th overall pick, 153rd overall pick
To Colorado: Nazem Kadri, Jonas Gustavsson, Mike Komisarek, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Jiraj Mikus, 25th overall pick, 39th overall pick, 86th overall pick
This trade gives the Av's additional depth on the blue line, a blue-chip prospect, a good third-line center and a good package of draft picks. The Leafs get their No.1 center, a play-making defenseman, they move up in the first-round and acquire a fourth pick in the sixth round that they could potentially use to make another trade to move up with other picks.