Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Rumors: 7 Players Who Should Be on Their Radar
As the 2011 season comes to a close, NHL teams will be finishing up their final touches before what looks to be an eventful NHL Draft this year.
This year more than in years past, you will likely see plenty of movement on the trade front, as this years draft class is relatively even after the top 12 picks or so. Anywhere from 12 to 50 you can likely get the same type of player.
The Leafs will be looking to do a number of moves, as they've got some holes that they need addressed before the 2011-12 season begins.
Brian Burke has already told media that one move on his agenda is to acquire a No.1 center. Another move that I believe will be discussed is to acquire a top-three defenseman to help lessen the load on a very young and inexperienced defensive core.
Lastly, the Leafs who pick 25th and either 29th or 30th, are looking to trade up and have a few players on their shopping list.
Players like Mark McNeill, Ryan Strome, Matthew Puempel and Jameison Oleksiak have all drawn interest from the Leafs scouts and GM's alike.
7. John Michael Liles: Defenceman, Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche has over $15 million in cap space and right now appear to be a team on the rebuild.
After trading Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and now the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, its become apparent that the Avalanche are in the midst of a rebuild.
The Avalanche pick second in the 2011 draft as well and are likely to select Adam Larsson if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goes first overall. After that, I imagine the Avalanche have Saint John Sea Dogs defender Nathan Beaulieu high on the wish list as well, as they look to revamp their depleted defensive core.
If the Avalanche manage to draft both defenseman, likely Larsson will play in the NHL and play alongside Erik Johnson.
At a $4.2 million cap hit, look for the Avalanche to try and offload the contract of John Michael Liles to anyone that wants it. They need to sign a few goaltenders in hopes they can improve upon their terrible goals against from last season
Liles will likely come at a cheaper price than most 40 point defenders.
Liles, not really known as a good defensive player, will be looked upon to help revive a dead Toronto power-play and hope to return defenseman Dion Phaneuf back to his glory says with the Calgary Flames when he potted 15-plus goals regularly with the Flames.
6. Joe Pavelski: Center/Right Winger, San Jose Sharks
Joe Pavelski by all accounts is a top-six player in the NHL, but due to sheer depth in the San Jose organization, he is forced to playing third line center duties on the Sharks.
With a cap hit close to $4 million a season, paying that much for a third line center in today's NHL just seems wrong.
With some free agents to re-sign and about three defenseman to sign, the Sharks are already in some rough shape when it comes to the salary cap.
The Sharks will likely have about $18 million in cap space, but they have to sign about five players to play in their bottom six. To add to that, they will likely need to sign another three players to play on defence, and likely need to sign another goalie to back up Antti Niemi, as both Thomas Greiss and Antero Niittymaki are both unrestricted free agents.
The major need on the Sharks in my opinion is some speed, skill and consistent offensive ability on the back-end.
Who could they be after? I would hazard to believe that with the way Kevin Bieksa is playing, that Christian Ehrhoff may be the defenseman the Canucks are likely to not overpay to keep. Ehrhoff back in the teal and black would make some sense.
To afford him, could Joe Pavelski be on the way out? If he is, the Leafs should be on him quick.
5. Stephen Weiss: Center, Florida Panthers
The Panthers right now in the NHL are dead last in team payroll with just over $18 million committed in salary to only 11 players. With an addition 12 players to sign or re-sign, the Panthers are still in good shape in terms of cap room, but are they likely to generate any income in Miami this season?
With that in mind, with over $3 million committed to No. 1 center Stephen Weiss, it is likely that GM Dale Tallon will be looking at unloading Weiss before the season begins in October.
Weiss is a solid player, but in my opinion he screams Matt Stajan to me, a player who is just not good enough to be playing first line duties.
To his credit though, Weiss is still a very good two-way player and penalty killer, and would looking nice on the Leafs roster which could use as many two-way players as they can get.
Last year was a down year for him as he only scored 49 points in 76 games, but the last two seasons, he managed to score at least 60 points in each season.
Weiss, a Toronto native, could make his way home before the start of the 2011-12 season.
4. Any Player Acquired as the Leafs Attempt to Move Up at the 2011 NHL Draft
Its been long believed that the Leafs will be looking to move up at the draft this year. Some teams that could help the Leafs out could the Blue Jackets at eight, the Avalanche at 11, the Flames at 13th, the Rangers at 15th and the Oilers at 19th.
In my opinion, the Avalanche at 11th seem like that most likely choice for me if the Leafs were to move up in the draft.
The Leafs have been linked to Prince Albert Raiders center Mark McNeill for weeks now, and to me, when Brian Burke sets his sights on a player, he usually gets him. The only player I can remember him not getting was Luke Schenn's younger brother Brayden Schenn at the 2009 NHL Draft.
If you feel up to it, post some deals in the comments section that you'd like to see that involve the Leafs moving up in the draft.
3. Paul Stastny: Center, Colorado Avalanche
Paul Stastny hasn't fallen out of favor in Denver, but to me, with Matt Duchene evolving into a No. 1 center after every game, and with a top two pick in the 2011 draft, the Avalanche are likely to have to make a decision on either Liles or Stastny as the Avalanche decide on what player they want to draft.
If they draft one of Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, or Jonathan Huberdeau, look for the Avalanche to entertain offers for their $6.6 million dollar cap hit center. If they elect to select a few defenseman second and 11th overall, look for the Avalanche to get rid of Liles.
Stastny would be a welcomed addition to Toronto's top six, as Phil Kessel has went without a left handed set-up man for too long. Yes, back when Marc Savard was actually healthy.
2. Brad Richards: Center, Unrestricted Free Agent
Not too long after the report surfaced, Leafs GM Brian Burke refuted the report rather abruptly and just said "No, No, No. No," when asked about it.
However, I've always said where there's smoke, there's fire, and this might be the instance that this could be true.
The Leafs could really use the first negotiation rights with Richards, but it doesn't mean that he will be a Leaf,
With all of this said, some other reports from the Richards camp is that he won't waive his no-trade clause so a team could acquire his negotiation rights.
With or without a deal in place, the Leafs and Richards are sure to build up some steam before July 1st.
1. Jeff Carter: Center/Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Could the Leafs and Flyers hook up again with another trade?
This one could be very possible as the Flyers appear to likely be trading Jeff Carter in hopes they can sign or get a goaltender in return for the cash saved from letting Carter go.
Carter has saw his role with the team diminish slightly as Mike Richards has become the heart and soul of the club and second year standout Claude Giroux has elevated his game to a point that made Carter's role as second line center become expendable.
Personally, I think it would be a huge mistake if the Flyers dealt Carter. In my opinion, the Flyers should be looking to deal Daniel Briere before they ever move Carter.
But in the end, who gets you more in return? The answer to that question I hope is obvious.