Alright, to kick things off, I have read a lot of these scenarios, but I will classify them all as speculation because deep down, that is what a rumour truly is. It's a theoretical situation, and some of them come true. Some of these I hope come true as well, but here I've compiled some of the most intriguing possibilities for the Leafs moving forward between now and the draft, including the draft itself.
First of all, Brian Burke has been incredibly quiet. For those keeping track at home, that usually means he is busy because when he is bored he's in the media daily saying things like ""No player is un-tradeable. Wayne Gretzky got traded," and "Hockey is a man's game. The team with the most real men wins,” and, by far my favorite, everything he says while Bryan Murray is mic-ed up.
But this June, he is as quiet as a mouse. And everyone knows Brian Burke is no mouse. Brian Burke is the big cheese, but he has done some cheesy things in the past. Which is precisely why the Leafs are exactly where they are today - call it hockey purgatory.
Essentially, the Leafs were trying to be trend setters and built a team of smallish forwards with a ton of speed that hoped to outscore it's problems. Ron Wilson taught his players how to play an offensive-mentality game, with hardly any physicality, the two-hands on the stick at all times rule (which is about as effective as Dany Heatley's driving skills). Unfortunately, they couldn't outscore their own goaltenders, which is why there are a lot of rumours rolling around about Toronto's potential acquisition of Roberto Luongo. So let's get to it.
Possibility #1: Leafs Land Luongo
This is a lot less a "possibility" as it is more of an "eventuality." The fact is, there is no market for Roberto Luongo and his 100 year contract. The Lightning just landed Anders Lindback, and paid a hefty price to do it, so the market that was there for Roberto just got smaller. I'd put it at a Leafs/Panthers situation, and while Dale Tallon has done some incredible things with the terrible Panthers roster over the last two seasons, this is one move I just don't see happening, and we're here to talk about Toronto trades, not Florida trades.
The rumoured deals are: one of Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi or Mike Komisarek and a fourth round pick for Roberto Luongo OR Tim Connolly and the rights to Jonas Gustavsson for Roberto Luongo.
Personally, I see the second one going down more because A) Connolly has just one year left and that would off-set the cap hit for Luongo; B) the Canucks get a solid back-up in Gustavsson at a cheap price and can roll the dice confidently with Schneider in net; and C) no one want to take on Komisarek or Lombardi, and Colby Armstrong is still a player who, if healthy, can be effective on Toronto's third line.
Possibility #2: Leafs Trade Kessel for Nash
Phil Kessel's value is at an all-time high. He and Lupul were two of the best duos in hockey for most of the season. But Phil Kessel is not a two-way player, so he lacks the fit in Randy Carlyle's new format. Rick Nash's numbers dropped a bit, but that can be attributed to the fact that the Blue Jackets are terrible and Nash is stuck in a terrible situation. The real question behind all of this is whether or not Nash wants to be a Maple Leaf, but in all honesty, would he not want to be anything other than a Blue Jacket?
Possibility #3: Leafs Acquire 1st Overall Pick from Oilers
This one is interesting. It's a two-step process, and we all know how much Brian Burke has been able to practice the two-step, AKA the "we'll make the playoffs"-"injuries hurt our chances." Essentially, the Leafs and the Anaheim Ducks are very, mutual trading partners. Despite the Leafs destroying the Ducks in the Beauchemin trade (Leafs earned Lupul and Gardiner from the transaction) they have done a few trades since and continue to be each other's first call. And why not? Opposite conferences, the Leafs had Wilson, a former Ducks coach, now they have Carlyle, a former Ducks coach. Apparently in six or seven years the Leafs will have Bruce Boudreau as a head coach.
Anyways, the Ducks know they are going to lose Justin Schultz, but they don't want to get "nothing" out of the process, so there seems to be a possibility of Burke sending a third or fourth round pick to the Ducks for Justin Schultz, then swinging his rights PLUS Jake Gardiner to the Edmonton Oilers for the 1st overall selection and thus drafting Nail Yakupov. The reason to all this madness is that Schultz wants to play with Gardiner, his NCAA linemate. But the Oilers desperately want Schultz and to walk away with two stud defenceman after the draft. Getting this combo is a sure-hit trade for the Oilers, but only if both are included. The Leafs need to get that top prospect into the system, and Yakupov is the only true, pure talent in this year's draft.
Possibility #4: Draft Possibles
Let's continue on the basis the Leafs happened to get the first overall pick AND keep their fifth. Here are the ideas I've heard: Toronto has targeted Filip Forsberg as their number five selection, mostly due to the fact Alex Galchenyuk is pegged to go between 2 and 4, and the Habs have a, how should I say, dur sur (feel free to babblefish that one) for Galchenyuk. Filip Forsberg is believed to be the second coming of Corey Perry, so you can see why the Leafs are strongly interested in drafting him.
If they do not earn the top pick, the Leafs are looking at basically whoever slips to fifth overall between Galchenyuk and Grigorenko, but Forsberg very well could be the guy they will take, period. Another possibility is the Leafs acquiring a mid-level selection so they can also draft Radek Faksa, and moving their second round selection (which is essentially a late first round pick) along with a roster player is the concensus to get this done.
A final possibility, should the Leafs land the 1st overall pick and keep their fifth overall selection, is offering the 5th overall pick to the Blue Jackets in a deal for Rick Nash - it's the one pinpointed player that won't go away.
At this point, the Leafs are in a situation where it should be "anything goes" in regards to the shake-up because doing nothing would lead to Burke being fired. And Burke doesn't like being fired.
If there was ever a year when the Leafs would be expected to be the busiest, it's this one. There should be at least 10 roster moves before the start of the season, and with the pending CBA lurking with a possible $60M cap to be set in September (while teams work off of the $70.3M temporary cap currently awarded) it's going to make for one interesting summer.
But one thing that's for sure is if the Leafs happen to land any combination of Yakupov, Galchenyuk, Forsberg, Grigorenko, Nash, Luongo, then I would consider it to be a successful June. It all comes down to one man, and his direction for the club.
If you were Brian Burke, what would your priority be?
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