In wake of the first ever Stanley Cup being presented to the oh-so dominant Los Angeles Kings, the wind was all but knocked out of Leafs Nation as Hockey Night in Canada insider, Elliotte Freedman, posted in his ’30 Thoughts’ article that the Leafs were possibly shopping Luke Schenn to Edmonton, in an attempt of acquiring the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Elliotte Friedman reported, “There are rumblings that Toronto will offer Luke Schenn to Edmonton for a swap of first rounders,” wrote Friedman. “No doubt Brian Burke would like to make a huge draft splash. He loves the big stage. And I do believe the Oilers like Schenn and have discussed his availability before. But I just can’t see it happening for the first overall selection.”
But just how accurate is this claim?
Leafs President and General Manager, Brian Burke, quickly fired back to the media and said that the offer has never been made. He appeared to be infuriated. One can’t blame the guy either. It seems that his decisions have been a topic of constant scrutiny on Hockey Night in Canada, specifically by Don Cherry. For years, Don has made comments regarding the mis-use of first round pick, Nazem Kadri, the release of Kyle Wellwood, and even questioning the non-use of faceoff ace, Mike Zigomanis. But none more heated than this year’s scrutiny of not having a single player from Ontario on the Leafs roster. Don became enraged on several occasions and this time around with alleged trade proposals, Burke had had enough.
“Typical of Hockey Night, I have never discussed this trade or any trade involving Luke Schenn to Edmonton.”
This shouldn’t be any surprise to Leafs Nation, or the hockey world, that Burke declines any relevance. He seems to be very blunt in his responses to any kind of trade rumour or potential transaction regarding his club.
So, in order to gauge this rumour’s possible accuracy, let’s address this trade’s relevance to the team’s needs and goals moving forward. An attempt to nab the first overall pick is, essentially, the acquisition of the number one prospect in the draft. That being Nail Yakupov. Yakupov is a Russian winger, who has an incredible knack for finding the twine. This is a juicy thought for Leaf fans, but is what the team needs to address?
Following the Leafs’ epic 4th quarter meltdown last season, Burke stated in a press conference that the Leafs were looking to address certain areas in order to succeed next season. These areas being: getting bigger, stronger down the middle, and improving defensively. The acquisition of Yakupov not only fails to address any of these specific needs, but takes a step back in improving defensively, as Schenn is developing into a shutdown defenseman. Thus, labeling this kind of transaction with a giant question mark. On the other hand, I strongly believe in acquiring another solid winger. Personally, I like our centers. Sure, we need maybe a bigger body that provides a significant offensive threat, but I believe in winger support for the centers. I just don’t believe that this is the manner in which to approach getting that winger.
I think every Leaf fan wants a big splash come draft time, as Burke made it clear he wanted to acquire assets through trade and not free agency. However, maybe the effort in making a huge move should be avoided during the Draft. I would actually like to see them deal the 5th overall pick in a package deal with one or two contracted players in order to acquire a useful asset. This type of move would unload large, unnecessary contracts to teams that may need to reach the cap floor, while addressing specific team needs. This will also give Burke and company more flexibility upon entering the market, especially with the looming Collective Bargaining Agreement that will likely lead to a lowering of the salary cap in the upcoming season. Burke may not be gung-ho about making noise during free agency in the way of volume, but I believe he will make a stab at the heart and soul of the Devils, Zach Parise. He is American after all. But for an attempt at a name like that, the Leafs will have to unload a lot of contract via trade.
And for those Leaf fans that would love to see this rumour come to fruition, don’t hold your breath. I mean.. just review all the trade talk at the deadline. At one point, an insider had tweeted that ‘Carter to Toronto is pretty much a done deal’ yet there was zero evidence of any such talks. So take all that you hear with a grain of salt and remember that we’re in Leafs Nation. Our recent history suggests that this is merely the media’s attempt at exciting a hockey market in dire need of some progress.