We continue our Maple Leafs Trade Deadline coverage today with TLN’s list of players that could or should be targeted by Toronto as March 2nd nears. I’ve come up with a list of players likely to be of interest to the Leafs, based on current rumours, availability, age, skill, contract situation… basically anyone who could be seen as a “fit”.
It’s a difficult list to come up with, seeing as most of us at TLN have our hearts set on picks and prospects, but as soon-to-be-traded Joffrey Lupul tells us, somebody’s gotta play. Here are three players that could, should, or probably will be targeted by the Leafs in the next week.
Backlund is at the top of our list for two reasons. First, because local blogger hero Bobby Cappucino is a big fan. Second, we’re really just trying to piss off Flames Nation.
Ryan Pike had a nice write up on why Calgary might consider trading Backstrom, and if he’s right, the Leafs might want to get on the horn with Flames GM Brad Treliving.
You’re not moving Bennett or Monahan. It’s unlikely that you can trade Stajan’s long-term deal, and you probably want a veteran center to mentor Bennett for a bit. But what about Backlund? He’s due for a raise. He’s a strong possession player. He’s got value. And if you want to use some center depth to fix the team’s lack of defensive depth, the best bet to do so is by swapping out Mikael Backlund.
The only issue is that, if it is in fact a solid right-handed defender that the Flames need in order to justify moving Backlund, well, the Leafs already traded theirs to Nashville just a few days ago.
So… how do Calgary fans feel about Roman Polak?
You’ve seen his name popping up a lot lately, huh?
First, we heard that the Winnipeg Jets would be making Burmistrov available on the trade market. Then, Steve Simmons reported that the Leafs were in fact interested in the 23-year old Russian’s services. Now, we’re hearing a whole lot of talk about a Burmistrov-for-Winnik scenario, and hilariously, situations where the Jets would have to add a pick to get the deal done.
Burmistrov is a natural centre who pushes the play in the right direction. He’s young and he’ll be relatively affordable, making him the perfect kind of player to drop in to a rebuilding roster and a) let him play and b) have him enter his prime as the rebuild comes to a close. I have no idea why the Jets would even want to trade this guy – Garret Hohl over at Jets Nation talked about this at length just the other day – especially when he’s open to returning to Winnipeg. I’d move Winnik for him straight-up. He’s more valuable than the 2nd or 3rd round pick you’d get otherwise.
We’ve talked a lot about Mike Richards at length around here. We all largely agree that you can only take on Richards if you’re moving a big contract back Los Angeles’s way, like Dion Phaneuf’s. And we also all agree that the Kings would have to sweeten the deal if they expect the Leafs to take on Richards’ ugly and expensive contract.
That last part is the important one.
Targeting Mike Richards makes a whole lot of sense if a player like Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson are included in the deal. Of course, that’s a long shot. An enormous long shot. It’s more likely that someone like Adrian Kempe or Jordan Weal would be used to entice Toronto, but neither of them aren’t exactly enough to justify Richards’ contract.
So, Richards makes this list conditionally. It’s fine to target him as long as the second piece coming back Toronto’s way is one of significant value. After all, Dion Phaneuf might not be the perfect defenceman, but he hasn’t been trying to rediscover his game with the Toronto Marlies either. The Leafs should keep in touch, gently remind the Kings they’re willing to make a deal, and wait and see just how desperate they are.