Leafs on Verge of Deal?
According to a few twitter posts and other rumour networks, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of completing a significant trade. With Howard Berger, Eklund and others discussing the possibility of Paul Stastny, Zach Parise, Brandon Dubinsky and even Steven Stamkos, it’s clear Brian Burke is certainly shopping hard for an immediate impact player rather than a development method through the draft.
One such deal, and it could be the one that has gained more momentum today, is the Leafs acquiring Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche for a package that is likely to include the Leafs ownership of the Philadelphia Flyers’ first round pick in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry draft – a pick they acquired for the out of place Kris Versteeg – Leafs (arguably) top prospect Nazem Kadri, and up and coming puck-moving defenceman, Carl Gunnarsson.
Stastny is coming off a poor campaign, though everyone on the Avs team is doing the same after a subpar season, but as Ron Guillet pointed out, the six foot centerman has yet to reach his prime and is already considered a consistent 70 point performer. Offering a first round pick, a promising defenceman and an unproven prospect seems to be a rather fair trade value considering Stastny could be the best player currently on the market.
Should the Leafs make a pitch on Zach Parise, you have to take into account his potential health concerns. He is considered one of, if not the, best American player in the NHL today and with the New Jersey Devils going to arbitration with their young sniper, it’s difficult to imagine Parise wanting to stay in New Jersey long-term. Perhaps filing for arbitration was a great way to extend the Devils time-frame for getting a deal done, but the cost would likely be much higher than what the Leafs would have to pay for Stastny. It would be difficult imagining any deal for Parise not including one of Nikolai Kulemin or Mikhail Grabovski, plus draft picks and prospects, and with the Leafs looking to improve their current core, I do not see Burke giving up assets from his top line.
Brandon Dubisnky’s name has certainly made the rounds as the New York Rangers look for other ways to clear some cap space in order to sign Brad Richards as a free agent on July 1st. The Rangers failed in their attempt to buy out veteran centerman Chris Drury due to an injury and now need to explore other options, including shipping off their power-centerman in Dubinsky, so they can land their primary target – Richards.
Eklund, despite all the odds, has insisted the Leafs would make an offer sheet above and beyond what the Tampa Bay Lightning could match in order to secure the services of Steven Stamkos, despite Brian Burke publicly announcing he had no plans to place an offer sheet on any player. Now, that doesn’t mean a deal could not be reached between the two clubs, but Stamkos would command a king’s ransom, and I’m not entirely sure the Leafs could get a deal done without including the likes of Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn.
Other potential options for the Leafs also include the always rumoured Jeff Carter. With the Philadelphia Flyers on the verge of inking a significant contract with goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, their need to clear cap space would certainly be high, and it’s likely Jeff Carter will be moved one way or another. Whether that deal involves the Leafs is another question, but with a lengthy term to his contract, Brian Burke would have to push aside his disapproval for long-term deals in order to accept the number one centerman he requires. That said, Jeff Carter is more of a sniper and a puck carrier than he is a playmaker, and he may not compliment the likes of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul the way Burke would like.
There is also Stephen Weiss, who was close to becoming a Maple Leafs at the trade deadline, before the asking price sky-rocketed by the Florida Panthers to include two first round picks. If the Leafs, who were battling for a playoff position at the time, were not willing to part with both their top 30 picks at the deadline in order to stock themselves for a healthy run at the post-season, it’s unlikely they will do so now. Unless the Panthers asking price comes down, don’t expect Weiss to wearing blue and white anytime soon.
Let the speculation begin!