The Maple Leafs haven’t been able to match their impressive efforts from the start of the season - and consequently, team brass has examined and implemented numerous solutions to get the team back on track.
Rookie Nazem Kadri was recalled from Toronto’s American League affiliate weeks ahead of the development schedule GM Brian Burke envisioned him on. Players have been benched for shifts, periods and games. And coach Ron Wilson has mixed-and-matched different players on all of his forward lines.
Despite those changes, the Leafs can’t score enough goals to support their above-average defense. And Burke has precious few internal options to turn to now.
Yes, he could fire Wilson and insert a new coach to guide the Leafs. But as I said on Twitter, asking a coach to make consistent scorers out of Toronto’s forwards is like handing a world-renowned chef a hot dog and a crouton and demanding he make caviar out of it. The ingredients for the recipe simply aren’t there.
That leaves trades as Burke’s other option. But who can he trade (a) that doesn’t have an onerous contract other teams will avoid like the plague (which rules out Mike Komisarek); and (b) who can help a team on the ice?
There aren’t many who fit that bill, but here are some Leafs who could be on the trade block:
Francois Beauchemin, D: The veteran defenseman hasn’t blown anyone away with his play since he arrived in Toronto last season. But he’d be a solid addition to a bona fide Stanley Cup contender – and he’s only got one more season (and $3.8 million) left on his contract.
Fredrik Sjostrom, LW: A penalty-killing specialist, Sjostrom is cheap ($750,000) and is in the final year of his deal.
Phil Kessel, RW: Kidding! You should know by now I kid every once in a while.
Mikhail Grabovski, C: Grabovski has been one of Toronto’s better players, but he’s still erratic at times. That said, if you want to get, you have to give and Grabovski does have skill and speed that will be attractive to teams.
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