For the Leaf Fans- Rumours & Speculation
Today a good friend of mine took me aside and asked me a few questions, most of them referring to the recent trade of Francois Beauchemin to Anaheim. It wasn’t long before it turned into quite the interview.
To be nice to Leaf fans, nicer than I’ve been lately, I thought I’d let you in on a few things I see going down over the next month, rumours speculation, as well as some analysis on the trade today.
Interview questions of course by a good friend of mine, answers by yours truly.
Q: What do you think of the deal for both sides? (Francois Beauchmin to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and a fourth round pick)
A: Definitely a good deal for both teams. Anaheim gets a defenseman, who at one time was an elite player for Anaheim including their run at the Stanley Cup, beating out Ottawa in five games in 2007. On top of this they lose $4 million plus off their payroll over the next two years.
In the end all the Ducks really gave up was a defensive prospect that isn’t much use to them. Anaheim already has an immensely stocked back end, including big names like Lubomir Vishnovsky, young Cam Fowler, Andy Sutton, Toni Lydman, Paul Mara, and the list goes on. Simply put the odds of the Ducks needing Gardiner in three years are slim to none.
On the Leafs side of thing it’s a great deal as well. The Leafs get rid of a player whose lost fan support recently in Toronto and they clear the back log of defence that they have. This gives room for the future Leaf blue liner’s to get some NHL experience this season, Keith Aulie is expected to be recalled from the Toronto Marlies (AHL) tomorrow after John Mitchell clears or is claimed on waivers. To add to the positive Toronto gets Gardiner, a 20 year old defensive prospect that scouts are saying has great potential, his main asset being his incredible skating talent.
Q: Who won the trade?
A: Easy answer, Anaheim. They win this trade simply because there is too much unknown with Gardiner. The Ducks get proven blue line help plus a decrease in payroll after losing Lupul. Simply put the Ducks win this trade by a slim margin but they do win this.
Q: Are the Leafs buyers or sellers?
A: Buyers. Brian Burke honestly believes his team has a chance at making playoffs. Burke wants to do everything possible to be able to get there or come close and have a chance next. The trades Toronto makes will be exchanges of talent not player for draft pick deals.
Q: What kind of players is Burke expected to go after?
A: Forwards and lots of them. Although there could be a deal to lose/gain a goalie or defence the majority of deals Toronto makes will be to try and acquire top six forwards. But don’t be surprised to see Burke try and swing a few deals for a third line role player or two.
Q: You mentioned positions but you didn’t mention names, who specifically could the Leafs go after?
A: There is a wide range of players I’ve heard that could be on the Leafs radar. Prior to February I heard mentions of Dave Bolland out of Chicago. There has been talk that Tomas Kaberle to San Jose could be in the mix with players such as Devin Setoguchi or Joe Pavelski returning in the deal but not a lot of credibility has been given to these rumours.
On a purely speculation aspect there are two players I could see Burke trying to acquire. Ales Hemsky is the first, although recently he has said he enjoys playing as an Oiler he seems like a fit in Toronto. Burke would love to see him play with Phil Kessel and Toronto has a lot to offer Edmonton in the form of veteran presence on the blue line, something the Oilers lack.
The second player I could see going to the Leafs is another Oiler. Dustin Penner. Penner is a former Duck, players Burke loves to see play for him again. Penner is a top-six forward who really matches Burke’s expected level of play, not to mention as stated previously Toronto has a lot to offer Edmonton in return.
Q: What Leafs could be heading out and to what teams?
A: I’m unsure on where they are heading but Kaberle, Kris Versteeg, Jonas Gustavsson, and Tyler Bozak have all been the major players people are discussing as being available. As to where they are heading if I was to speculate and basically guess I’d say teams of interest could be as follow;
Versteeg- San Jose, Edmonton, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Los Angeles
Gustavsson- New York Islanders, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas
Bozak- Same as Versteeg
Kaberle- San Jose, Edmonton, New York Rangers, Dallas, Vancouver
Q: Final question, what are some around the league rumours?
A: To start we had the whole Jarome Iginla saga that finally got wrapped up, however I hear the Rangers are still hard in the hunt. The only way New York can acquire Iginla is through trading cap away. Apparently the Rangers attempted to trade Chris Drury but found no interested teams. Glen Sather has said he is not shopping but willing to listen to offers for Marian Gaborik.
Other than that the only major rumour floating around is still the Brad Richards saga. However, I have to crush that right off the bat. There is an ownership problem in Dallas right now so GM Joe Nieuwendyk cannot discuss an extension with Richards. Barring anything major happening the Stars are expected to hold onto Richards and discuss extension prior to the entry draft, if not trade him then.
To cap this off, something I recently heard and was not able to pass to my friend. The Leafs are done for today, however, as another deal is supposedly already in the works per Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period (@TheFourthPeriod on Twitter).
Writer for The Reed Review, The Checking Line, Hockey Independent and Inside Hockey