The Advent of Silly Season

Corey Perry
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With just over three weeks to go until the trade deadline, I feel as if I can get away with a rosterbation post without too much scrutiny. I’ll do my best to not go full HFBoards with my ideas, but certainly have a few players in mind that I’d like for the Leafs to target, and a few that I’d like Nonis to jettison. While I’m sure this won’t be the most intelligent post you’ll read this morning, hopefully it will at least spark some Monday morning conversation.

Three I’d like to see the Leafs target

  1. Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames. I think I’ve beaten this drum on twitter fairly regularly that I feel that Bouwmeester is the best all round defenseman that is likely to hit the trade market either at the deadline or over the summer. He might not be regarded highly by all, especially those who want to judge him by the record of Calgary’s defense as a whole. Bouwmeester is player that like Phaneuf, is being asked to do too much and be all things at all times for the Flames. He’s a left-handed shot, so with Carlyle’s belief that only right handed shots play on the right side, Bouwmeester would likely be on a different pairing than Phaneuf. But that also means that between the two of them you have a solid defender on the ice for more than 50 minutes a game, and some of the inexperienced players gain some breathing room. With his high cap hit and no trade clause he’ll have a limited number of suitors, he’s a safe bet for Toronto, and the only player in the league with a more pitiful playoff drought than the Leafs.
  2. Brian Boyle of the Rangers. It’s already a challenge to find room for all the forwards in the lineup, but why not add one more? Especially since that means the Leafs can ship someone out at the deadline as well. Boyle brings the size and intangibles that Carlyle covets. He’s a penalty killer, he wins face-offs, and on his best days he can actually chip in a few points. That’s probably why I probably like him, every time I’ve gone to a Rangers game he seems to have a multiple goal game. He’ll drop the gloves, and he can play at any forward position if needed. Of course, there’s probably a reason why he’s been a healthy scratch on the Rangers, and going after other teams problems doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, other than he is the type of player that might cost you a lot more when he gets back into his groove. The Rangers are always looking for roster players first and foremost so if they want to swap underperforming players the Leafs might be wise to deal with them. Boyle is signed for one more season after this one at $1,700,000.
  3. Stephen Weiss of the Panthers. I can’t imagine there’s much of a market for a centre who is out for the season. I’d imagine now that the NHL is allowing an interview period for free agents prior to the opening of free agency not as many teams will be trading picks at the draft for the right to talk with players. Right now the Leafs could make a deal to attempt to negotiate with Weiss, and have a three month head start on getting a deal done. After seeing the Getzlaf deal there’s a possibility that Weiss could wind up costing more than Grabovski, which seems steep, and his history of wrist injuries will make the likely 8 year deal he’s seeking seem like a risk, but ideally having Weiss, Kadri, Grabovski and McClement up the middle next season is worth risking a modest price to talk to a talented center.

Three the Leafs should consider dealing

  1. Tyler Bozak. I’ve been done with Bozak for quite some time. Two primary assists in 26 games while centering a top line is ridiculous and winning face-offs only adds value if you know how to move the puck once you’ve won the draw. Toss in some horrendous defensive play and there’s no reason why the Leafs should consider him part of their future. Kadri, Grabovski, and McClement are already well ahead of him, it’s time for him to move on. Luckily for the Leafs, with Weiss injured and Getzlaf signed there’s the potential that teams will be looking for anyone who could possibly support their top six, and as a rental on a low cap hit there should be plenty of calls for Bozak, who could add value in more protected situations. What kind of return could Bozak net the Leafs? I’d have to imagine he starts at a second round pick, but could peak at late first. As much as I question his ability, if Paul Gaustad could get Buffalo a first last season, the possibility exists for Bozak.
  2. John-Michael Liles. If you’re not going to use him it’s probably best to let someone else have the chance. An experienced puck moving defenseman is still somewhat of a commodity, even if he has been sitting most of the season. I’d have to imagine he’ll need to get some games between now and the deadline to establish a better price for the Leafs, but I’d also figure that most teams still think he can play; it’s just Carlyle’s aversion to offensive defensemen that’s keeping him out. While I’ve stated several times that I don’t like his contract, I still think it’s very moveable, and if teams are looking to add some offense to their blue line this summer he’ll come at a more reasonable price than UFAs. If the Leafs are aggressive and strike early on Bouwmeester, they potentially could drive the price up for guys like Liles at the same time.
  3. Matt Frattin. I put Frattin on here so I’ve at least have one less than obvious player listed, though I’m perfectly comfortable if the Leafs keep him, too. Frattin has put up some incredible numbers so far this season, and frankly I don’t think he can easily keep this up over a full 82 game season. Where he’s putting together what looks like 30 goal pace (over 82 games) the reality for him is much closer to something like 15 on a regular basis (not a bad number either). With a high value Frattin could potentially be a key piece in a deal for a player like Bouwmeester, or the oft-rumoured Avs centre, Paul Stastny. As much as many of us really like Frattin, he’s the prime example of having to give up something good to get something good, and with the amount of depth the Leafs have on the wing it’s either going to be the deadline or the summer when we see those numbers thin a little. If the Leafs remain in a playoff position at the deadline, I doubt the decision is made then.

Heading into the deadline, I’d hope that the Leafs take the approach of being both buyers and sellers, and not necessarily look to address everything through hockey trades either. The bias that the deadline is when General Managers make their biggest mistakes has kept the Leafs from making a significant splash at the deadline, though it’s hard to argue that prior to the deadline some interesting moves have been made in the past seasons. A new CBA means it’s a new ball game, and Nonis certainly has the cap space, and the ability to absorb salary, that could give him a few more options than Burke ever had (though the Leafs can only retain salary on one more player after using it Matthew Lombardi). It will be an interesting few weeks, and hopefully if the Leafs don’t make major moves we’ll at least get to see the Habs or Bruins make a stupid one.

Monday Morning Links…

The most important Maple Leaf this season? (Vintage Leaf Memories)

Make sure to check out the link to the Leaf Matters podcast linked to at the bottom of the post. Michael and Matteo have been good enough have Curt, Anthony and I on their show, along with some other notable folk like Allan Bester, Mark Osborne and Pat Quinn. If you haven’t been listening be sure to check out some of their excellent work.

Leafs could be buyers and sellers at trade deadline (National Post)

After I wrote my post and started looking for links I found that my trade deadline idea wasn’t too original. Also the philosophy that the Leafs should be both buyers and sellers seems to be shared here.

Toronto Marlies ride pair of goals from Brad Ross to win over defeat Peoria Rivermen (The Star)

It’s nice to see Rad Boss starting to find his game in the AHL. Scoring might not be what is expected of him anymore, but it might give him more confidence to be a professional pest.

NHL Numbers Predictive Power Rankings

See where the Leafs Rank using the awesome power of math.

Toronto Maple Leafs pick Matt Finn’s unlucky post-draft year continues after knee-on-knee hit (Buzzing the Net)

Pour one out for Matt Finn’s season. He was likely going back to junior next season anyway, but this certainly doesn’t do him any favours.

Cody Franson sends Sidney Crosby flying into boards (Backhand Shelf)

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching this.

He Wasn’t Wendel; The Story of # 13, Part One. (PPP Fan Post)

A look back at the acquisition of Mats Sundin.

Trade Tracker: Ryane Clowe (Sportsnet)

Sportsnete Thinkse thee Leafse aree interestede ine Ryane Clowe. Juste Saye Noe Toe Clowe.

Rather than post just one crappy Phil Kessel trade proposal, here’s a thread that’s a dumping ground for bad ideas.