A lot has been made of the way the Toronto Maple Leafs have played this season. Sure they have an 11-6 record, good for a tie for second in the East, but the Leafs are doing it in the weirdest way possible. Getting outshot and committing way too many turnovers has caused Leaf coaching staff and fans a lot of grief.
What do most Leaf fans do when their team is having problems? They start saying that they need to make a trade or two. This year has proven that fans will have that reaction even if their team is at the top of the conference.
Whether it’s another centre to fill the hole they have at the position or a defensive defenseman to improve the blue-line, I have seen and heard a lot of fans that believe a trade needs to happen now.
The fact is, no, it doesn’t.
If the Leafs were to trade for a centre, it wouldn’t be that number-one everyone is asking for because it would just be a temporary fill-in. Jerred Smithson fills that need perfectly. Once Tyler Bozak returns in a couple of weeks, the panic in that case should die down somewhat.
When it comes to defensemen, the Leafs do have problems. They have two young d-men in Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly that are still learning the game. They have a defenseman in Paul Ranger that has returned to the NHL after years of being away from the game. Having three d-men that are learning the NHL game is asking for bumps in the road to occur.
Also, the Leafs have four defensemen whose contracts will be running out at the end of the season. Dion Phaneuf, Mark Fraser and Ranger will all be unrestricted free agents while Gardiner and Cody Franson will be restricted free agents.
Seeing that most defensemen that will be available for trades will be pending UFAs as well, adding another free agent-t0-be would be unwise for the Maple Leafs.
Add in the fact that the Leafs are spending into the long-term injured reserve allowance that enables to be over the salary cap and making a trade is nearly impossible.
Simply said, the Leafs can’t and don’t need to make a trade at this time.