The Trade Deadline is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 24 hours away, and in keeping with the hip kids I can only describe the constantly changing landscape of the trading block as starting to get mad real. Former franchise faces now have new homes, teams are negotiating with other teams goalies, and we’re all starting to get a pretty good idea of who’s going to make the playoffs and who isn’t. If you’re not, check the standings.
This leads me to my next deadline preview about the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the first time since the last lockout (you know, the season ending one) the Maple Leafs are probably going to make the playoffs. Don’t want to jinx their chances, but they seriously look good. The Leafs are currently 6th in the East with 44 points, which puts them 9 ahead of the 8th place Rangers. Which makes them, for the first time in forever... Buyers!
That paragraph ending “Buyers!” probably should have came with an asterisk. While they are in a position to add pieces to this team, and most likely will, they also have a few at their disposal. The usually paper thin Leafs all of a sudden have depth, and lots of it. Who’da thunk it? For a look at some of the players potentially on their way out and maybe on their way in, read on.
Clarke MacArthur: MacArthur is in the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $3.25M, which makes him a good rental candidate for other teams. Then again, he could be resigned by the Leafs. Doubt MacArthur will get traded, but his name is apparently on the block.
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Tyler Bozak/Mikhail Grabovski: I group these two together solely because of their connection to any possible Roberto Luongo trade. Bozaks name has been thrown into any possible deal from the get-go, but his continued play as the first line center makes him a little less expendable. He is a UFA at the end of the season though... Then there’s Grabovski, who’s quickly worked his way into Randy Carlyle's dog house. Grabovski would fit Vancouver’s needs at center, but his contract is a little more cumbersome.
Mike Ribeiro/Derek Roy: If the Leafs get rid of either Bozak or Grabovski, it will most likely because they’ve landed one of these guys in a separate deal. Bozak has performed admirably as the Leafs first line center, but really isn’t suited to the job. Ribeiro and Roy on the other hand, are very well suited. Also going to cost more to get them.
Mike Kostka: His name is coming up in rumour mills, but I really doubt they’ll move Kostka. Playing very well in a shutdown role, and has even seen time on the top pairing with Phaneuf. Is a UFA at the end of the season though.
Roberto Luongo: With the Leafs getting great goaltending all season long, there is seemingly little urgency left to make this move. Then again, you’re some kind of diluted to think James Reimer is better than Luongo. It’s never a bad move to upgrade at any position. Especially if the Canucks bring down their asking price.
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Miika Kiprusoff: The Leafs are apparently talking to “Kipper”’s agent as we speak, and are trying to work out an extension. That being said I really do think this is a smokescreen to try and get Mike Gillis to lower the price on Luongo. Kiprusoff is probably going to retire at the end of the year and hasn’t played better than Reimer this season.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins