NHL Trade Rumors: Would the Colorado Avalanche Deal with the Maple Leafs?

Kevin Goff@@BrgBrigadeKevinContributor IMay 27, 2011

DENVER - MARCH 04:  John-Michael Liles #4 and Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche await a face off against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center on March 4, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Canucks 2-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

We are very close to the month of June, which means a few things are just around the corner.

Free agency, the NHL entry draft and teams being able to wheel and deal again.

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of stories written that predict that the Avalanche would be ideally suited to trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Both articles outline, and correctly so, that the Maple Leafs could address two of their needs with a couple of the current Avalanche players.

Toronto definitely needs a first line center, and the fact that trade rumors circulated around Stastny around the trade deadline this year makes Stastny look like a possibility for the Leafs.

Toronto also needs to replace Tomas Kaberle on the blue line with another solid offensive-minded defenseman, and the fact that John-Michael Liles ends up in trade rumors every single year no matter how well he is playing also could make the Leaf's organization perk their ears up.

The big question that has been raised in both of these articles is who the Leafs would give up in order to get both of these guys.

As far as Stastny goes, I have two issues with the idea of Stastny being shipped off to the Leafs.

First, the trade rumors only really began to fly around Stastny because his dad, Peter Stastny made critical comments of the Avalanche after they traded young stars Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis in exchange for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement.

Why does the fact that his dad popped off at the mouth mean that Stastny should be traded? 

Just because his dad happens to be a former member of that franchise, the old Quebec Nordiques, somehow means that Paul shares the same thoughts as his dad? 

Personally, I don't follow that line of reasoning.

Anybody who watches the Avalanche knows that Stastny is a leader on this team, and really has been ever since he came into the league.

He could also very easily be the next captain of the Colorado Avalanche.

Second, you would have to think that Stastny has got to be their second choice for a first line center, considering that Brad Richards is the headliner of this year's free agent class. 

That being said, the Leafs may have to do some trading to being with in order to make room for the inevitable large contract that Richards will demand.

Assuming that Toronto keeps all of their other potential free agents, they only have a bit over $3 million of cap space. 

This could make signing Richards quite difficult.

That being said, the same sort of challenge comes with Stastny. Times aren't the same as before the lockout, and Stastny's $6.6 million cap hit is a huge consideration that needs to be taken into account when considering who will be going where.

With John-Michael Liles, it seems that trade buzz follows him around every year, yet he is still wearing an Avalanche sweater.

Liles' appeal is obvious as he came very close to hitting 50 points this past season, and might have if he hadn't been injured for the last week of the season.

He quarterbacks the power-play very well, is very fast, is still solid in his own zone despite the fact that he is much smaller than your average defenseman, and is only 30 years old.

He plays very well with solid, stay at home style defensemen with good shots from the point, so he might make a great partner for Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf.

Still, with his successful productivity and experience in the league, he is a very valuable commodity to the Avalanche who boasted the league's youngest team for the last two years running.

Looking at the players the Avalanche would have to give up, personally, I don't see a trade for both of these players ever coming to pass.

That being said, it doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. So, what might be a possible trade to bring all of this to fruition?

Let's look at each team's needs.

Avalanche Needs

Goaltending.  If there was anything that the Avalanche absolutely and positively needs, it's a proven number one goalie that they can count on to play 60-70 games a season and not buckle under the work load.

Size. Just a general need that needs to be addressed in several locations.

Both offensively and defensively, the Avalanche are small. 

The Avalanche are getting Kyle Quincey back for the start of next season, so he will bring some size back to the lineup, but that far from solves things.

Defense.  The Avalanche defense was not only small, they were incredibly inconsistent and quite frequently looked as if they were unable to play without a sense of panic always in them. 

Toronto Needs

According to these articles that I am referencing, the Leafs are most in need of a solid first line center, and a play making defenseman.

Here was the most interesting trade referenced out of the two articles.

Colorado trades Paul Stastny John-Michael Liles, 11th overall pick, 153rd overall pick to Toronto.

Toronto trades Nazem Kadri, Jonas Gustavsson, Mike Komisarek, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Jiraj Mikus, 25th overall pick, 39th overall pick and 86th overall pick.

The draft picks seem to work out here, but let me tell you why this trade is a bad one for the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche are giving up their top line center and number one assist man, Paul Stastny, and one of their most valuable offensive producers from the blue line and get neither of those style of players in return.

Kadri is a prospect that has promise, but only might end up being a first line style player. It isn't even clear if Kadri would end up on a second line behind Matt Duchene.

Gustavsson was drafted with a lot of hype, which he has not lived up to. He played in 23 games for the Leafs this year and ended up with only six wins, and a goals against average of 3.29. 

The Avalanche already have two glorified back up goalies, we do not need another one.

Komisarek could add some size to the blue line which is good, and it is possible that Tyson Barrie or Stefan Elliot (Avalanche prospects who both dominated the WHL last year and signed entry level contracts with the Avs towards the end of the year) could make up for Liles' production.

Gunnarsson and Bozak combined for 50 points between the two of them last year, which Stastny surpassed by himself even though he had an low productivity season.

Then Mikus seems to be another defensive center prospect that might be a third line center, second at best. 

The Avalanche already have three of those types of centers on their team right now.

Yes, that is a lot of players for the Leafs to give up, but nothing that gives the Avalanche the same type of value that they are sending away.

If the Avalanche are to trade Liles and Stastny to the Maple Leafs, then the Leafs should be prepared to see a name like Grabovski, Kessel, maybe even Phaneuf heading the other way.

Just because the Avalanche were god awful this last season does not mean that they will trade away some of their best players for a slew of third liners.

Personally, I don't see any type of trade like that happening, but it is possible. 

If I were to tweak things around a little bit, here is what I might do.

Colorado Trades: Stastny, Liles, 11th overall pick to Toronto (there is an insane amount of trade value there that not a lot of people realize because the Avalanche had such a bad year)

Toronto Trades: Phaneuf, Grabovski, Komisarek 25th overall draft pick, (39th overall draft pick).

Even this trade I don't see as being particularly realistic for either team because of all the leadership that is going from both teams.

Not to mention that it doesn't really address all of the needs that the Avalanche have. 

The Avalanche aren't too interested in acquiring depth at the moment, especially if it is in exchange for two of the pillars of their organization.

In conclusion, it is highly possible that the Avalanche and the Maple Leafs could end up doing some kind of a deal over the summer, but the ones listed in the two articles significantly undervalue what the Avalanche are giving up and would need back in order for them to happen.

It seems to me that the best course of action for the Avalanche is to try and augment the team a bit more through free agency and the draft rather than blow up the roster by getting rid of two big time leaders on the team.


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