Well if they hadn’t won, it would have been a disaster, but yesterday’s win against the Devils certainly comes as a Merry Christmas present to the Leafs, who now sit 10 points behind the Boston Bruins for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. Although I hesitate to look ahead (since every time it appears the Leafs have an opportunity to move up in the standings, they seem to squander it), with games against Carolina, Columbus, Ottawa and Boston this week, the Buds do have an excellent chance to gain some much-needed ground back, especially in their own division.
While wins are a huge must for the Leafs at this point in the season, the slump they hit before the Christmas break prompted even more trade talk than usual from the Toronto media and the usually tight-lipped Brian Burke. Burke intimated to, first a Leafs blogger and then to Howard Berger, that he had lost confidence in the ability of the current roster to achieve his goal of having a good season and reaching the playoffs. Just a few days ago, Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star indicated that he felt a trade must be made in the very near future to give embattled coach Ron Wilson a chance to resurrect this season.
Personally, I would be in support of any trade that would add some scoring depth to the roster at this point, and I wouldn’t be sad if Mike Komisarek or Francois Beauchemin were part of the deal. Neither player has lived up to the deals they signed in 2009, and both players have been absolute turnover machines in the early part of the season. However, wishful thinking as that may be, given their oversized contracts and poor play, there are more than a few teams that are rumored to be on the verge of making significant roster changes.
While the coaching change in New Jersey has probably bought Lou Lamoriello some additional time before he is forced to make any major roster moves, the debacle in nearby Long Island could furnish a few lucky teams with some valuable assets. Matt Moulson is in the final year of his contract with the club, and has proven to be quite a scorer, while Josh Bailey has been rumored to be on the market as well. Calgary has long been rumored to be on the verge of “blowing it up” although I’m not sure who Burke would be targeting on the Flames roster.
Sure, there are any number of players out there that would be of great service to the Leafs, but whether Burke owes such a trade to his bench boss – I’m not really sure. While Wilson has come under fire recently, and rightfully so, given the Leafs’ consistently horrendous performance on special teams, I’d be more inclined to say Burke owes it to himself to make a trade. He has, on numerous occasions, made bold proclamations of the state of his team – proclamations that have been consistently proved false. While expecting a playoff berth would certainly be a stretch at this point, if this team, with or without changes to the roster, finishes in a lottery position and cedes another top draft pick to Boston, it will be a long offseason for Burke.