Toronto Maple Leafs: A Benching, a Trade Rumour, and 2 Games

(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
(Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames in a shootout of a very sloppy game, but they did come away with the victory.

Better still, the Toronto Maple Leafs deserved the victory.

The Flames may have scored 4 times to the Leafs 2 goals at 5v5, but this was finally a game where the Leafs were significantly better than their opponent at even-strength. (stats

The Leafs picked up scoring chances at will, and only a great game from Vladar and a bad one from Woll made this game close.

Nick Robertson looked especially great, and even Jake McCabe played well in his return to the lineup.  The new third line, the lack of John Klingberg and the fact that the 4th line barely played at all were huge factors in the Leafs outplaying an opponent for the first time in quite some time.

Toronto Maple Leafs: A Benching, a Trade Rumour, and 2 Games

Tonight’s game is against the surprising but still totally crappy Canucks. The NHL’s Poster Child for how people live in the immediate present and do not ever take advantage of many of the great predictive tools we have at our disposal, the Canucks stills stink, whatever their current insanely lucky record suggests.

This the perfect opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs to take advantage of a weak opponent and put a little streak together.

They’ll be doing it without Ryan Reaves. 

The NHL’s worst player is being benched, 13 game too late.  In his place, the Leafs will play Bobby McMann and hope to get the same results they got when they reconfigured their third line, into what is proving to be quite a glorious combination (Domi centering Robertson and Jarnkrok).

Unfortunately, with the good news comes the bad: John Klingberg is going back into the lineup.  Why anyone thinks this is a good idea is beyond me.

It is not a good idea.

Ilya Samsonov will get the start as well.

When it comes to the trade rumour front, Nikita Zadorov is the topic, since he requested a trade. The Leafs were already linked to Calgary, so this is just more fuel on the fire.

A 6’8 pending UFA who makes just under $4 million is a player the Leafs will definitely have interest in.  A good defensive player who is overrated due to being huge, Zadorov is expensive for what he brings, and unless he’s pretty cheap, there are likely better options out there.

Of course, if Calgary would take Klingberg and the draft pick was in the 3rd to 5th range, I’d be ecstatic about such a trade.  The only thing I have against Zadorov is that these types of players generally get overrated (just look at his salary) and he will likely cost too much.

Next. The Leafs 10 Best Prospects. dark

Keep in mind, Zadorov is a very average player.  He’d be a good addition, but he’s not a game-changer and the Leafs should pay accordingly.