Savard Makes Sense

If Brian Burke is contemplating the idea of acquiring Marc Savard, the Toronto Maple Leafs may be on the verge of adding a substantial piece to its rebuilding plan.

That may sound strange considering the playmaking center is nearly 33 years old and is the beneficiary of a seven-year contract, but there are other factors at play that makes this rumor an enticing one.

It’s no secret the Leafs are considerably bare not only down the middle, but in forward depth as well. The acquisition of Savard would provide the Leafs with the elite centerman they’ve been yearning since the departure of Mats Sundin. Savard may lack the size of the ideal number one centerman, but it’s his offensive flair that makes him such an alluring target.

Granted, Savard’s contract secures his services until the age of 39, which is reason for concern. With a modest cap-hit of $4.007 million dollars, it’s the length of his contract that could pose serious problems in the future should the Leafs remain within the realm of mediocrity. However, it’s the nature of the business to take risks that could potentially make or break a general managers career. It’s why us hockey nerds live off trade rumours.

What Leafs fans must also consider is how this would affect the development of top prospect, Nazem Kadri. Personally, I think the acquisition of Savard would relieve some pressure off Kadri, who at 19 years old, is expected to crack the Leafs roster and make an immediate impact next season. With Savard in the picture, Kadri could learn the ropes on either the second or third line and develop at his own pace, rather than be placed in a situation where he must carry the load. If Kadri proves to be NHL-ready, then he and Savard could provide the Leafs some depth at center.

But what about the assets the Leafs would have to relinquish? The thought of trading Nikolai Kulemin to the Bruins is an uncomfortable one, I won’t lie. However, it should be mentioned that many of us Leafs fans sometimes have a habit of overvaluing the team’s players. And that’s not to take anything way from Kulemin, whose work ethic and defensive play were at times unparalleled by his teammates. It is, however, fair to mention that his offensive upside is somewhat limited, as he can be described as more of a grinder.

While the Leafs would lose a valuable young forward in Kulemin (and whatever else is packaged along with him), Burke would still have his top trading chip in Tomas Kaberle if the rumor comes to fruition. And if he can manage to acquire a young top-six forward in exchange for Kaberle’s services, then suddenly the risks of the potential trade would decrease significantly. It seems far-fetched, but the options are at Burke’s disposal.

There are concerns that Savard may struggle with the lingering affects of his concussions, but it should be mentioned that prior to last season, Savard played 320 of 328 games post-lockout. Just something to keep in mind for those who fear he may be Eric Lindros version 2.0.

The rumor seems to have divided Leafs Nation, but if you ask me, I don’t see the harm in acquiring a first-line player for such a cheap demand.

There’s nothing complicated about it. The Leafs need offence, and Savard can provide that.

As always, interested to read your thoughts.

ronguillet@gmail.com