Toronto Maple Leafs: 6 Trades That Could Make Them a Threat for Years to Come

Neil GrewalCorrespondent IIIOctober 11, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs: 6 Trades That Could Make Them a Threat for Years to Come

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    The Leafs are only one game into the 2011-2012 NHL season and already there is an enormous amount of speculation surrounding trades.

    These were first made apparent before training camp even started when the Leafs were carrying six centers in Connolly, Grabovski, Lombardi, Bozak, Kadri and Colborne who were vying for the top three center positions. Also, with the team having eight supposed NHL ready defensemen, something had to happen.

    Now it became all but imminent that something else will happen with the acquisition of Dave Steckle, who will now be looked upon to win those big faceoffs. Something may happen now, in a month or halfway through the season, but there will be more moves being made before this season is in the books.

Tyler Bozak for Kyle Turris

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    I know this trade has been rumored about already ever since Damien Cox brought up the topic in the Toronto Sun, but I feel that it still has to be mentioned.

    Phoenix has been bringing him along very, very slowly, not giving him a proper chance to show what he can do ever since he was drafted third overall in 2007. When Turris was drafted he was  praised for his outstanding offensive skills. He possesses a great shot and great playmaking skills which could help benefit a player like Phil Kessel on the top line.

    I have heard mixed reactions about this trade, with some people being very high on Tyler Bozak. People feel that now he may have truly found his niche as the the teams third line center. However while he still has good offensive skills to be a top six forward at some point in his career, it won't be anytime soon. For now he will remain out of the spotlight where he can start producing modestly.

    Turris as well has the skill set to be a top six forward at some point in his career. Many believe that his talent alone could even make him a proficient first line center. Thus far in his career Turris has been in Phoenix's system for three years. He has shown that he is able to dominate at the AHL level by scoring 24 goals and 63 points in 2009-2010, but even so, it only garnered him third/fourth line duty while averaging only around 11 minutes per game.

    If we were to compare Bozak and Turris' numbers from last season, Bozak scored 32 points while averaging 19:16 minutes of ice-time, and Turris had 25 points while averaging 11:16 minutes. Bozak had a whopping seven more points while averaging eight more minutes per game.

    I personally believe that if you ever have the opportunity to trade for a player like Kyle Turris, a guy with a boatload of potential but in a terrible situation, and the cost is Tyler Bozak, you do that trade any day of the week! While Bozak is finally showing signs of life and could be in for a great year, the opportunity is too good to pass up.

    This situation is eerily similar to Steven Stamkos' first NHL season where he was barely given any ice-time to show what he could do until the second half of the season was deemed a first overall bust. All he needed was a larger role and an increase in ice-time so he could finally find his grove. I fully believe that if Turris is given the same opportunity he could do the same.

Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson for Artem Anisimov

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    This is another rumor that has been circling the Internet, and there even seems to be some validity to it when it was alluded to on by Darren Dredger, however the names of the players involved were not released. Therefore, this is simply down to pure speculation.

    Personally, I don't really see how this trade would benefit the Rangers, but I can definitely see where it can help the Leafs. Anisimov is a big center with a ton of skill. He is a great playmaker who could fit well with Kessel and has great vision and see's the ice very well. With his size and skill set he reminds me of a Mats Sundin substitute as a first line center (though not quite so effective).

    For the Rangers, however, I don't really see where this deal would help them too much. The team is very deep at center as is with Richards, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Stepan, Christensen and Boyle. So far they have been playing Dubinsky on the top line with Richards and Gaborik, and the only way I could see them making this deal is if they believe Bozak could be a suitable replacement on the second line, or if Stepan will be able to fill that void and Bozak takes over the third line duties.

    There is also the possibility that the true gem of the deal for New York is Carl Gunnarsson. Gunnarsson is a very capable two-way defenseman who can play in all situations. He is not in any way an impact defenseman, but a solid one nonetheless. On a team that is very deep on the back end, Gunnarsson is easily expendable, which makes this deal all the more attractive for the Leafs.

    Personally, I am not sold on Anisimov just yet, but I would have to say this would be a very good deal for the Leafs if it were ever to happen. If this deal were to happen, it could easily be a steal for the Leafs in years to come.

Jason Spezza to the Leafs

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    Up front I'm gonna say that in my opinion the odds of this deal happening are very slim (and slim being generous), but when Dave Hodge tweeted that certain members of Spezza's family believed he would be a Leaf, it created a lot of buzz.

    At first I thought that would be the worst thing that could happen for the Leafs. He was inconsistent, gave the puck away a lot, carries a $7 million cap hit for the next four years and worst of all, was an Ottawa player! But then I started thinking about the positives that Spezza would bring to the Leafs, and I think that they far outweigh the negatives.

    Spezza is an established No. 1 center in the NHL who is easily capable of 80-plus points if playing with the right players. He is a big guy who is not easily moved of the puck which would fit with the new mold the Leafs are looking for at center. He is a great playmaker, has great vision (at times) and has a great shot which he can use effectively. He is also a very good faceoff man, winning 56 percent of the draws he took last season.

    Questions surrounding Spezza's game arose during the last few seasons after Heatley was traded. It also happens that Spezza was battling through injuries those years, missing at least 20 games in the last two years. When Heatley was traded it was expected that Spezza would be able to make up for the lost production in Ottawa, which is just illogical. Spezza did however score 57 points in each of the last two seasons averaging almost a point per game.

    I know that Spezza has a lot of questions surrounding him and a no trade clause to boot. But being a Toronto native, I don't see any reason for Spezza to reject a trade. Trading for Spezza would be a big risk, but with potential for a lot of upside. The price would also be pretty high as well considering what the Leafs would be acquiring, but the Senators would have to take a salary dump in return to make it work.

    Spezza for Komisarek, Kadri, Blacker and a second or third round pick is something that I could see happen.

    Brian Murray wanted Kadri during the 2009 draft and may still want him as far as we know. Blacker would be a necessary inclusion in the trade because other than the defensemen they have on their roster right now, their depth is pretty bare. The pick was included as the added incentive for Ottawa for taking on Komisarek's contract.

    I don't know how I'd feel about a deal taking place between the Leafs and the Senators, but I could definitely see how this could work out for both sides.

Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell to the Leafs

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    This proposal right here is purely my own speculation. I know people will probably think that this deal would be just absurd, but I feel that something could be worked out.

    When Brayden Schenn was traded to Philadelphia during the offseason in the Mike Richards deal, I'm betting he thought that with the teams top two centers now out of the picture the odds of him making the roster was all but guaranteed...apparently not.

    Brayden Schenn easily showed that he was ready for a full-time NHL position this year, but due to Philadelphia's cap situation, is not able to fulfill his dream. His roster spot instead was given to last years eighth overall pick Sean Coutourier who, while coaches say made the team because of his stellar preseason, I feel made the team because of his low cap hit.

    This situation must be very frustrating for a young player like Schenn, who has been dubbed the top prospect in the entire league, and is long overdue for a decent shot at an NHL roster position. I think that Burke would be out of his mind to not even try and inquire about the talented Schenn, and for all we know his agent may be trying to work something out right now.

    The only reason that I include Scott Hartnell in this deal is to attempt to clear some cap space. While he does have a no trade clause in his contract, if Hartnell were approached he may waive it to play in his native country for the first time in his career. Hartnell himself is a very good player as well, so it would take a very hefty price to pry both him and Schenn away from the Flyers.

    Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and a fifth or sixth round pick for Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, Luca Caputi/Jesse Blacker and third or fourth round pick.

    Don't know how fair a deal like that would be, but just a little something I thought might make sense. However, a deal like that would have to be accompanied by a Komisarek salary dump to another team.

Staal/Stastny/Pavelski to the Leafs

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    Any one of these players who be the perfect fit for the Leafs. The only thing is that it would be very, very difficult to pry them away from their respective clubs.

    Jordan Staal is a supremely talented player in a terrible situation in Pittsburgh. He is a player who has the skill to be a top line center in the NHL, but just happens to be third on the depth chart behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

    While there are those odd times where Malkin moves to the wing and Staal is bumped up to the second line, he never, or rarely ever, gets those prime powerplay and offensive opportunities given to the teams most talented players.

    Jordan Staal was rumored to be heading to Leafs once before when Mats Sundin was still with the team. However there have been no new rumors that have surfaced since then.

    Paul Stastny is another player who has been rumored to be going to the Leafs for sometime now. Unlike Staal, he is an established first line center who is capable of putting up 70-plus points per season.

    While Stastny is slated to make $6.6 million for the next three years, he could be a good investment for the Leafs, especially with Colorado being in financial difficulty. Following this season, Colorado only has seven players signed. Two of those players being recently drafted Gabriel Landeskog on his entry level deal and the other being Stastny himself.

    Other than those two, the only other players signed beyond this season are David Jones, Jan Hejda, Ryan O'Byrne, J.S. Giguere and Semyon Varlamov. This lack of players signed may be a sign of how cash strapped the organization is at this point and time.

    There has never been any sourced material associating Paul Stastny with the Leafs. It has only been pure speculation which arose from Matt Duchene's emergence in Colorado and the teams financial stability.

    While Joe Pavelski has not truly been associated with the Leafs, I feel that he is a player that should be mentioned as well. Pavelski is one of those players who showed up out of nowhere a few years ago and ever since has been getting increasingly better.

    Pavelski is currently San Jose's second/third line center with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture playing top minutes at the center position, but has the potential to be a first line center.

    I don't know how likely trading Pavelski will be for San Jose, but with the Sharks only having 14 players signed beyond this season, and only around $8 million in cap space, they will need to clear up some space. And with Thornton and Marleau both having No Movement Clauses, Pavelski would seem like the obvious player to move for the right price, however this is purely my own speculation. I have never read any sourced material that pertains to his availability in San Jose.

    These are some potential trades I could see taking place:

    Jordan Staal for Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri and a fifth round pick

    Paul Stastny and a second round pick for Mikhail Grabovski, Carl Gunnarsson and Clarke MacArthur

    Joe Pavelski for Tyler Bozak, Jesse Blacker and a second round pick

    Don't know how likely these trades would be, but any one of these players would significantly improve the Leafs for years to come.

Vincent Lecavalier to the Leafs

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    Here is a rumor that has been on and off over the years. There has been nothing sourced pertaining to his availability in Tampa, but there have been rumors over the past couple of years about them looking to move him. However, there has never been any sourced material associating him with the Leafs. This is purely my own speculation.

    Yes, I know, his contract is abysmal, but if anyone can handle it, it would be the Leafs who have a ton of money. The only issue with the contract is the length.

    The upside of going for a player like Lecavalier is that in a small market like Tampa they will look to unload whatever money they can while still making their team competitive, especially since re-signing Stamkos. This would probably mean the Leafs could get Lecavalier for a lot less than he would normally go for. Also, acquiring Lecavalier will effectively give the Leafs a first line center for as long as this team is competitive.

    If it were somehow possible to get Lecavalier for half of his contract length, I am pretty sure that most Leaf fans would be on board with it. They way I see it, if he were to play in Toronto, I would expect him to keep the team competitive for the next five-six years while they have the majority of their roster under contract.

    Once that period is up, however, I don't know how likely it will be that Leafs continually spend right up until the cap, especially if it continues to rise as it has been. It may be that by the end of those five-six years the salary cap will be over $70 million per team which would give the Leafs a lot more freedom.

    It should also be taken into account that within that time period where Lecavalier could still be at his best, the contracts given out to Tim Connolly, Mike Komisarek, John-Michael Liles and Joffrey Lupul will all be expired. This would make it easier to buy out the rest of Lecavalier's contract after five-six years. Sure, there may be a few years where the buyout would be very high against the cap, but that would only be as a last resort for the Leafs.

    Sure, the price tag for Lecavalier might be a little high, and the length is not what i would prefer, but the fact of the matter is Lecavalier is a supremely talented player who would easily be the team's No. 1 center.

    Burke almost traded for Jeff Carter, who's contract length is even worse than Vinny's, so we know he wouldn't pass on the opportunity if it arose. I think a deal for Vinny could be very possible, and for a modest price as well.

    Vinny Lecavalier for Mikhail Grabovski and a first round pick.

    The Leafs may have to add a prospect to that deal, but I don't think it would be anything more than that. Grabo would easily fill into the No. 2 center position in Tampa, and for a much more modest price and better term for Tampa, and the first round pick speaks for itself. At most I could see a mid-tier prospect like Luca Caputi, Kenny Ryan or Josh Nicholls be added to this deal, but nothing more.


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