Leafs Trade Chatter: Who Could Go, Who Should Go?

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Something another Leafs’ columnist noted today, and I would have to agree with, is the fact that while everyone keeps writing and tweeting and saying that there are, in fact, tons of Leafs trade rumors, no matter how hard I look, there are no rumors of any real substance in existence. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Leafs’ games continue to be targeted by scouts from all around the league, as representatives from a number of teams, including Tampa Bay and Montreal (please, please let the Habs take Beauchemin).

Speaking of the unMighty Boosh, (youtube the Mighty Boosh and Old Gregg, if you want to be wierded out and amused at the same time), apparently the Leafs could have traded him straight up to Phoenix for Wojtek Wolski, who ended up going to the Rangers. Burke wanted to get a draft pick in addition to Wolski, while the Rangers were willing to just trade Michal Roszival straight up – sounds legit to me, as bad as Beauchemin has been, he’s still a cut above Roszival.

On another front, Howard Berger reported today that veteran netminder J.S. Giguere had mentioned he would at least be open to considering the possibility of waiving his NTC should another team wish to acquire him for the playoffs. Teams that would potentially be interested in a veteran goalie with a Stanley Cup ring and Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume could include some virtual playoff locks like Philadelphia and Washington, or maybe Colorado, who has ridden the not-so-stellar play of Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj to the 2nd worst goals-against in the league. According to the ever-reliable HockeyBuzz, Washington and Toronto were in talks regarding a possible trade involving Jiggy and Kaberle, although Ek didn’t have any clue as to who would be coming back the other way. Could be just a way for Ek to keep the Leafs’ faithful trudging back to his over-hyped site, but with Washington in need of a veteran net presence and suffering from injuries on the blueline, it could make some sense.

Giguere indicated that he appreciated the fact that Burke had made the trade to acquire him from Anaheim, despite his high salary, stating that “I truly believe that Burkie helped me last year by bringing me to Toronto. With my salary and another year left on my contract, that probably wasn’t an easy trade for him to make. It was certainly a bit of a risk. So if it came down to a deal he wanted to make at the deadline this year, I think I would have to respect his wish and, at least, talk with my family.”

With James Reimer playing as well as he has, I’d have to think he’s at least earned himself a serious shot at the backup role behind the Monster, if not pushing him for a piece of the starting job. That might not be such a bad thing. Gustavsson has looked a bit shaky at times when he’s relied on to be the full-time starter, but is that really so terrible? While many of the NHL’s elite teams still rely on a single star keeper, with injuries and sometimes-cluttered schedules, it can be a very good asset to have more than one capable netminder on the roster. A tandem of Reimer and a well-rested Gustavsson could be pretty solid. While that likely won’t happen in the immediate future, with Giguere’s return imminent, Reimer’s play has to have given the Leafs’ management pause for thought.

High on the list of any teams looking to talk to Brian Burke will be forwards Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski, who have shown incredible chemistry with linemate Nikolai Kulemin. The line has combined for 45 goals and 97 points so far, and has become one of the most effective 2nd lines in the NHL, if you could even call them that. The trio gets plenty of PP time, and probably ends up facing more of opposition’s top d-pairings than any of the other Leaf lines at this point. Grabovski is the hottest scorer in the NHL right now, having scored 12 goals in his last 14 games. He appears to have finally developed into the type of player the Leafs thought they were getting when they grabbed him from Montreal. Between him and MacArthur, I’d say Burke would be much less inclined to let Grabbo go, given the Leafs’ severe lack of depth at center.

Speaking of MacArthur, the 25 year-old winger said that he’d be more than happy to sign a contract extension in Toronto, although no discussions have been broached between his agent and the Toronto front office. Currently having a career year, I’d hate to see the guy get shipped out midway through the season, as he’s a guy who plays with a bit of an edge, and clearly has the right mix of talents to hack it in today’s NHL. He obviously will be looking for a raise from his bargain basement salary right now, but if he’s already talking about re-signing with the club, I doubt he’s looking to break the bank. Assuming no contract is signed before the offseason, and he’s not traded, the Leafs will be able to tender a qualifying offer to him, so at least there’s no risk of losing him for nothing. I’d be very surprised to see him unsigned if he’s not traded, but if he does end up getting traded, it would undoubtedly bring back some attractive pieces, given the season he’s having and his current market value.

While many folks in Leaf Nation would love to see lumbering lughead Mike Komisarek shipped out for a bag of pucks, his play and his contract simply don’t match up, so no GM in his right mind would take his $4.5 million salary. Another Leafs’ defenseman that Burke will have to make a decision on is Luke Schenn. Another player that no contract talks have been initiated with, Schenn has been the Leafs’ best defenseman this season, and it would be an absolute travesty if he wasn’t re-signed. There would probably be more than a few interested parties in the young blueline stud, but Burke would be well-advised to hold on to the kid. He gets better every week, and is one of a very few bright spots from the JFJ era. I’d assume Burke is waiting until other notable players from Schenn’s draft class (Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty) are signed, so he can gauge what he should be paying, and for how long.

While we all wish we could part with the players we don’t want for others that we do, it just doesn’t happen in today’s NHL. Francois Beauchemin and J.S. Giguere make the most sense, given that they offer little to the Leafs’ long-term plans, but the return for either of their services wouldn’t be astronomical. Giving up Macarthur or Grabovski would hurt, but Burke has already said both players would require a high price to acquire, so the return would at least help to ease the pain. We all know Burke is a master of the major deal, so the next few weeks should be interesting to say the least, and it’s probably a safe bet that he’ll get something cooked up that no one saw coming.