Who the Toronto Maple Leafs should trade at the deadline?
For a team that is coasting toward a 6th straight season of not making the playoffs, the question should really be who should the Toronto Maple Leafs keep on their roster. Let's face it NHL sports fans, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a terrible team and they need to rebuild this team the right way through the draft. On paper, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the Toronto Marlies on "steroids". They can't score on a regular basis, they can't kill penalties, and they have very few assets to trade. Brian Burke knows that he screwed up in overpaying for Kessel, which has slowed the rebuilding progress in Toronto. Brian Burke will never admit this fact, because his ego will not permit him to do so.
On paper, the Leafs should have had a very strong defence this year and for the second straight year, a $30 million dollar defence corps got them the last ranked penalty killing unit. I don't know how that is even possible, but with the Leafs, anything is possible. It will be impossible to trade Beauchemin or Komisarek, because their skills just died as soon as they arrived in Toronto. Combined, they make $10 million per year, and they are 4th and 5th defenceman respectively on any other team. You can't trade Phaneuf because he is 23 years old and you just gave up a lot of players to Calgary in order to get him. In fairness, he has been injured and he needs steady work to be effective. Kaberle is a one way player, that you could probably get a 2nd rounder for, but he hasn't waived his no trade in previous years, so why would he now. Life is comfortable for Kaberle, as he gets to play golf all summer and do nothing. Their best defenceman has been Luke Schenn, so why get rid of him. He has a great future ahead of him and he is only 21 years old.
Therefore, if you can't trade the defencemen, you then need to look at the goalies. The Leafs have 3 goalies: one that has been injured all year, another with a permanent heart condition (the Monster) and James Reimer, currently in the minors. Who would take on Gigueres $7 million contract, which would have about $2 million left at the deadline, for a guy that may be on the injured list. What can you really get for Gustavsson as well? Reimer makes less than anyone in the NHL, so why would you get rid of him.
The only logical thing to do at this point, is to trade a front line player. The problem here is that the Toronto Maple Leafs need a Top 6 forward, and are clearly lacking any depth in the centre position. Mikhail Grabovski should not be traded because he is a centre that can score 20 + goals. He might not be a first line player, but at $2.9 million next season, he is low risk, high value. The same goes for Nikolai Kulemin. The player that the Leafs need to get rid of at the trade deadline is Clarke McArthur. This guy is trending towards a 60-65 point season on the Maple Leafs. His previous career high was 35 points in 2009-10 with Buffalo/Atlanta. McArthur will want $3 million/ yr, for the next 3 years. This is way to much for a guy that I don't believe can replicate this performance next year. He is getting a lot of power play time and he is playing on a first line. Even on terrible team like the Leafs, someone has to score, especially if that someone is in their contract year, and they play on ever power play. McArthur believes that he is comparable to Colby Armstrong, who makes $3 million / yr. While Armstrong might not score as often as McArthur, he can change the dynamic of a game by being a true super pest to get an opponent of their game. Mc Arthur is not worth the money he is seeking. What the Leafs should do is trade him at the deadline, then make a pitch to sign him in the free agency period. I strongly believe that the Leafs can get a 2nd rounder and maybe a 3rd rounder for McArthur. Trading McArthur makes sense for this organization. This is like the Dominic Moore situation of a few years ago in 2008, where Moore realized that he was not a $2 million dollar player that he thought he was. He went to Florida for a one year contract @ $1.1 million. It's deja vue all over again this season.