With all the speculation and predictive articles flooding the Bleacher Report on who the Toronto Maple Leafs could acquire, I'd thought I'd put in my take on the sticky situation the buds are in.
First off, though I'd love to see one of them don the blue and white, I see it unlikely one of Steven Stamkos, Brad Richards, or Paul Stastny make their way down to Bay Street, all for different reasons.
Stamkos is too valuable of a commodity to the Tampa Bay Lightning for them to just accept compensatory draft picks or fend off his rights for roster players. It would take a serious amount of assets to acquire a player of Stamkos' ilk, because you know the asking price will be inflated because of his value to Tampa's team. I don't think Burke would be scared to surrender the assets necessary, but I just don't think the Lightning would let him go, unless they are offered something that blows them away (Schenn, Kadri, Reimer and both firsts).
Stastny's value is less to the Colorado Avalanche compared to Stamkos' to the Bolts, but the Avalanche's asking price in accordance to his cap hit will also be too much for the Leafs to swallow. Now, I've established in a few of my other articles that Stastny is a good number one center with the potential to be elite, but the price will be too high for what he can offer now. Surrendering two of our top prospects, plus picks isn't something I see Burke completing.
My take on Richards is that he's keeping Toronto in his bidding war only to drive up the price. I don't think he actually has any intentions of signing with the Leafs. If you take Toronto out of the equation, you have one big market team bidding left (New York Rangers), with a handful of smaller market teams that probably can't afford anything higher than $6 million. In essence, without the Leafs, whatever the Rangers say will go. However, if the buds are involved, you have two teams with cash clashing, something Richards and his agent are most likely drooling over.
With all these names eliminated, who's left? A good old American boy in Zach Parise.
As mentioned right off the bat, he's from south of the border, which already appeals to Burke (as we've learned already). Add to the fact he's scored 30+ goals four times in his five-year career (I'm discounting the 2010-11 season, where injuries completely destroyed it), notched over 40 already, and has been a point-per-game player since taking over the Devils in the 2008-09 season.
Burke is also looking at a team that has roughly $7 million in cap space before resigning anybody. Burke is looking at a team that needs a bottom defensive pairing, a backup goaltender, and fourth line utility player. All in all, that won't cost the New Jersey Devils too much, a safe estimate is probably around $5 million to fill those needs. That leaves the Devils with $2 million left; maybe Parise will take a hometown discount?
No, he won't, and that makes him available. But what's Lou's asking price? Before we get to that, what's Parise's asking price?
My guess is something in between $6.5 - $7 million, to play it safe we'll go the high route and say seven. So, what's Lou getting out of that in terms of compensation? According to the NHL's official compensatory reward system, the Leafs would be obligated to surrender two consecutive first-round picks, a second rounder, and a third rounder.
In terms of a trade, a baseline of a deal would look something like this:
Toronto: Zach Parise, perhaps some cap relief (like Brian Rolston or Dainus Zubrus)
New Jersey: Nazem Kadri, Clarke MacArthur, Carl Gunnarsson, 25th overall pick
For just Parise, that deal, in my opinion, wouldn't be enough. However, the Devils would be wise to tack on some salary with Parise to gain some flexibility in the long term. Adding Rolston or Zubrus would lower the price from Toronto's end, thus saving the Leafs someone like Joe Colborne or Jesse Blacker.
Of course, with the acquisition of Parise, the Leafs would still need to obtain a center, but it wouldn't have to be someone of Richards', Stamkos', or Stastny' ilk. Someone like Tomas Fleischmann or Brooks Laich (much more realistic options after acquiring Parise) would be just as suitable.
Something like this could also give the Leafs flexibility with prospect Nazem Kadri. With a lower-grade free agent signing and Parise, they can have the leverage to move Kadri all-over the lineup. Another note is that Parise played center during his rookie and sophomore seasons with the Devils, and throughout his junior career.
However, those are beside the main point.
Would Parise be a more suitable piece than Richards, Stamkos, etc.? I certainly think so, what are your thoughts?
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