Can the Leafs help the Blue Jackets Not Suck Anymore?

The Columbus Blue Jackets are off to an ugly 0-6-0 start and sport an even uglier -17 goal differential, which is worst in the NHL and far off second-last place Calgary’s -9 mark. Things are so bad that GM Jarmo Kekalainen is reportedly considering both a roster shake-up via trade, and axing coach Todd Richards.

From Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts earlier today…

3. The word last weekend was [Kekalainen] wanted to make a trade before a coaching change, and he’s certainly trying. He’s looking for a defenceman who can make life harder on opposing forwards.
There are two problems. First, when you’re struggling, other GMs throw anvils instead of life jackets. Second, it can be very difficult to find trading partners this early. Most teams want to see what they’ve got.

Hi, yes. Paging the Maple Leafs? 

Toronto is quite deep on defence – I mean, not that they’re actually good defensively, just that they have a lot of bodies. In fact, Frank Corrado hasn’t even been able to crack the lineup since being snapped up off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks a couple weeks ago. Since he’s waiver eligible, he’s literally sitting there doing nothing and can’t be sent down unless Toronto wants to risk losing him as easily as they got him.

You can’t tell me that, in a development year, the Leafs couldn’t afford to give up a defenceman and create a little space. It’s not like anybody but Mike Babcock and the players themselves are actually trying to win anything this season.

So who could the Leafs send over? 

A lot of people are going to scream Stephane Robidas’ name, but let’s be realistic – the 38-year old is cooked. Besides being mysteriously on the IR, Robidas can’t turn around a miserable team (see: last season). It’s not going to happen.

More likely it’s Roman Polak that Toronto would dangle, and he seems like the kind of guy that can “make life harder on opposing forwards”. That may not entirely be true, but that’s certainly his reputation – a big, strong and fast blueliner with a defence-first skillset. The Blue Jackets also have the cap space to pay Polak for the remainder of the season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Now, I asked in the title of this article if the Toronto Maple Leafs could help Columbus stop sucking…

No, they can’t. But that doesn’t matter. 

It doesn’t matter to the Leafs if Columbus stops sucking. All that matters is Columbus trades Toronto an asset (think a mid-round pick or B-level prospect) because they think Polak will help them stop sucking. And we’re talking about a GM who thought that trading for David Clarkson was a good idea, so it can’t be all that hard to convince him that’s the case. And hey, when Polak doesn’t help the Blue Jackets suck less, at least they can flip him again later this year to recoup that asset.  

If the Leafs believe they can build Polak up to be a desirable trade deadline target and net themselves a bigger return, then maybe you don’t make the move now. I don’t see that happening though, so why not shed a little salary, ease the NHL-level logjam on the blueline, and pick up an asset? There’s no need to wait.

  • CMpuck

    Remember when Nonis kept doing small favors for Burke/us when he was assistant GM for the Ducks? Kekalainen is doing at great job our new little GM buddy.

    Rychel for Polak book it…

  • Gary Empey

    The Knights of the TLN Round Table mostly said Roman Polak was not good enough to make the Leaf roster. Even the vivacious Cat Silverman wrote him off.

    Do you now really believe Columbus thinks this would be the answer to their defensive problems. Columbus is looking for a defenceman sure. Their interest would be in Rielly, Gardiner, or Phanouf.

    Chicago just lost Duncan Keith for two months but I would be wary of any trades with them as Bowman usually comes out on top.

    I think for what we could get for Polak it would be better to keep him, unless the offer is a sweet one.

      • Gary Empey

        Re- “Why on earth would it be better to keep Polak?”

        1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

        2. He sat out the first two games. He played his first game against Ottawa. He added more physical balance to the defence. If you have noticed Babcock likes to have one physical presence on each defensive pairing.

        3. We haven’t seen Frank Corrado in action yet. When we do he is likely to be paired with Polak.

        4. He is the fastest beer chugger on the Leafs. ( I think that is where he got his reputation for speed )

  • silentbob

    If Shanahan/Lou/Dubas could pull it off….great.

    But I wouldn’t hold my breath on Kekäläinen being that……clueless about Polak and/or being desperate enough to make that deal, but not so desperate adding Polak is the kind of change he is looking to make.

    I think Polak is here until the deadline, not because they can build him up before then, but because the team that will take him is a playoff bound team that wants to (cheaply) add some veteran experience and depth to the blue line.