Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs' Conundrum: Trading and Free Agency

It’s an interesting time for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Injuries have depleted the team and the players that are left aren’t playing that well. This has led to almost constant trade speculation. Names like Tim Gleason and Dmitry Kulikov have been thrown around.

The problem is that acquiring any player from another team will obviously bring in salary. The Leafs are over the cap as it is because of injury allowance. Bringing in more salary will just compound the problem.

If the Leafs make a trade, and every day it seems the Leafs are closer to making one, the Leafs will have more shaking up to do sooner rather than later. It is known that the Leafs have more than a few UFAs come July 1, and the Leafs will want to re-sign at least a few of them. Keep in mind that they have a couple of RFAs as well.

Dion Phaneuf, Dave Bolland, Cody Franson, Mason Raymond, James Gardiner, Jay McClement and James Reimer are all Leafs that stand a strong chance of being re-signed. Most of them will be getting raises if they can play up to their expectations for the rest of the season.

Even with the salary cap going up for next season, the Leafs will probably not be able to re-sign all of their free agents.

Another problem with players that are going to be available in the trade market is that most of them will free agents at the end of the season as well. Adding players like that will just compound the problem.

So the Leafs are forced to choose between making a trade to help the lineup now or waiting to the end of the season and have a better chance of retaining part of their core. What they choose to do will probably end up being a little of both, adding new pieces while sacrificing some of their current core.

It should be an interesting rest of the season for the Leafs, both on and off the ice.

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Tags: Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Rumors

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