The most recent report making the rounds is that the Leafs are preparing to propose a deal that consists of a young defenseman (most likely Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner or Jesse Blacker), one of the Leafs two first-round picks (my guess would be the Flyers' own choice, since it is guaranteed it will higher than the Bruins' pick) and one of the Leafs top forward prospects (Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, or Jerry D'Amigo).
It may be a tad bit higher than what fans and Brian Burke would like to sacrifice for the scoring pivot, but people have to remember that the Leafs' most definitely aren't the only team in the league and thus, won't be the only team bidding on Carter. So, for this article's sake, let's place the highest valued deal we could:
Toronto receives: Jeff Carter, perhaps a fourth- or fifth-round pick
Philadelphia receives: Carl Gunnarsson, Nazem Kadri, 25th overall pick
The deal should be enough to acquire the scoring Carter, but the question the Leafs have to ask themselves is to justify making the deal is—is Jeff Carter really a No. 1 center?
There's no denying Carter has a natural knack for scoring, having surpassed the 40-goal mark once, the 30-goal mark three times and the 20-goal mark five times in his six seasons of NHL service. The one season he didn't reach 20 goals was during an injury shortened year, where he was on pace to net 19 goals.
Despite having an 84-point season two years ago, the consensus around the league is that Carter is a perennial 30-30 man, while contributing on the defensive end as well, having been a plus player in all but of one his NHL seasons.
To put it in perspective, the Leafs technically already have numerous 30-30 men. Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, and even Joffrey Lupul could qualify, will another who qualifies under this list push the Leafs to the postseason?
It's questionable and up for debate. Could saving perhaps someone like D'Amigo or perhaps Blacker be worth passing on another center like Paul Stastny or maybe even someone as lucrative as Rick Nash? What if the Flyers' put Mike Richards on the market (another rumoured name available as well)? A deal for any of those will most likely start with two of our top prospects (Kadri, Blacker), one of our young defenseman (Aulie, Gunnarsson) and perhaps both of our first round picks.
Toronto receives: Paul Stastny, Rick Nash or Mike Richards
Toronto sacrifices: Nazem Kadri, Jesse Blacker, Carl Gunnarsson, 25th and 30th overall draft picks
Something to note is that it's conceivable to say that Rick Nash could be viewed as more valuable than the other two, so take this proposal for him as a starting point, rather than a finishing point.
Would any of the above player's teams even accept the potential offer? This serves a predicament to how much value top line centers really have in today's game, and how much difference there is between a top line center and tweener like Carter, who is an above-average second liner and a good first line winger.
Perhaps, though I'm against it for now, it makes more sense for the Leafs to make a run at free agent pivot Brad Richards? That's still up for debate as well and only time will tell for this situation the Leafs are in.
Right now however, there is one thing everyone can come to a consensus on. The Leafs need a top line center, the question just remains. Who will it be, and who makes the most sense?