What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

As everyone knows by now, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded veteran defenceman Francois Beauchemin to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday in exchange for 27-year-old winger Joffrey Lupul.

Lupul, a native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, missed more than 20 games to start the season after undergoing back surgery in the off-season. This season, he has played in a total of 27 games (one with the Leafs). In those 27 games, Lupul has five goals and eight assists for a total of 13 points. Although those statistics may not seem all that impressive, it’s Lupul’s past that intrigues Leafs general manager Brian Burke and his staff the most.

In 422 career regular season games, Lupul has 117 goals and 238 points over seven NHL seasons, including three seasons where he has scored 20 or more goals. His playoff statistics are even more impressive, with 23 points (14 G, 9 A) in 39 games.

However, he is not going to be the long-term, top-line forward the Leafs are looking for to play with All-Star Phil Kessel. In fact, it is unlikely to see him and Kessel on the same line most nights because they both spend most of their time on the right wing. With Mikhail Grabovski, Tyler Bozak, Darryl Boyce and Tim Brent, the Leafs have very poor depth at centre. Adding another winger in Lupul and having Kieth Aulie up for what sounds like the long-haul only strengthens the reasoning to acquire another centre. The only problem is pickings are slim.

New Jersey’s Jason Arnott is a name being thrown around in trade rumours, although the Leafs do not appear to have much interest due to his age and $4.5 million salary. Philadelphia has an overabundance of centres with Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, but the chances of the Leafs acquiring one of those three players are slim to none.

The good news about Marc Savard’s injury is that we can finally kill those bogus Savard-to-Toronto rumours that made no sense whatsoever. Had Savard–a former teammate of Kessel’s in Boston–been traded to Toronto, Leaf fans and management would have to put up with his large contract, and accept taking on a 33-year-old injury-prone player.

Then there is Brad Richards, currently playing for the Dallas Stars. Richards, 30, who is in the final year of a contract that sees him make $7.8 million per season, will no doubt be able to fetch big dollars on the free agent market due to the tremendous season he is enjoying (55 games, 23 goals, 39 assists, 62 points). If Tomas Kaberle is not back for next season, the Leafs could have the room to sign Richards during free agency if he goes that far. Speaking of Kaberle, he, along with forward Kris Versteeg, are about the only two big time players the Maple Leafs currently have working in their favour from now until the trade deadline.

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN says that he believes Boston, Montreal and the New York Rangers are among “several” teams that are interested in Kaberle’s services. He also mentions that Versteeg is drawing some serious interest from other teams, likely ones who are on the verge of making the playoffs.

The Leafs are more unlikely to trade Mike Komisarek, not because they don’t want to, but because of his contract. The 29-year-old has three more seasons remaining on his contract at a $4.5 million cap hit. With a no-movement clause and modified no-trade clause (according to CapGeek.com) he also holds the power to choose his destination.

Perhaps the most likely centre to come to Toronto that is currently being used in trade rumours is San Jose’s Joe Pavelski. Pavelski has played in 48 games this season; he has 11 goals and 27 assists. He would be a great addition to the Leafs power play and penalty kill as well.

There is no question the Leafs aren’t done trading this season, even Burke said it himself. The only two questions are: who will be coming to Toronto, and who will be leaving?

Follow me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage, including news, rumours and game updates.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.