CFN – Are the Leafs going all in for the hunt for Connor McDavid?
The 17 year old is expected to be the top choice at next year’s NHL draft. This off season the Leafs have been near quiet with no big signings or big trades.
They drafted legacy youngun William Nylander with the 8th pick in the first round. At 5’9 the lithe winger certainly isnt’ about getting bigger and better. His numbers for Modo, 7 points in 22 matches also don’t elicit much excitement. Rinat Valiev is a Russian player who tasted North American Hockey with Kootenay of the WHL. He’s listed at 6’1 205 pounds at the age of 19.
Most of the buzz about the Leafs was about who they were trading; captain Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, James Reimer…there weren’t too many Leafs that weren’t in some sort of hockey buzz of some sort or another?
End result as of July 14th is that the Leaf team of last year is pretty much intact. Yes, they swapped out Carl Gunnarsson for Roman Polak. Yes they resigned Leo Komorov, but then it might be asked if he should have ever been allowed to leave?
Head Coach Randy Carlyle is still there, but two of his coaches were replaced; usually not a positive sign and of course Dave Nonis is still GM and frankly he’s never proven himself to be an elite GM at any level. Great support team guy; but he’s no….Brian Burke.
Toronto seems to be a team without a vision right now. Looking at their roster it looks like a work in progress that was never finished.
It now leaves the team in an odd position. You need a real trading GM to pull off magic. Most of the core players are signed up for a few years and many have some sort of trade clause like the one that kept Josh Gorges from joining the squad.
One of the most interesting rumors is of Steve Stamkos coming home and becoming a Leaf when he goes Free Agent in two seasons. That’s not as crazy a rumor as exists in the NHL. At the very least it gives Steve Yzerman more incentive to lock up his franchise player long time and I’m sure the Leafs if given the opportunity would do whatever it would take to get their home town hero.
One of the things they could do is make sure a strong team is waiting for him. While the Leafs aren’t there quite yet, a poor showing and a chance at the franchise player of the future surely wouldn’t hurt?
Tyler Bozak to this writer would be a strong #3 centre as opposed to being a number 1. Nazem Kadri isn’t a bad player; finishing 3rd in scoring last year with 50 points in 78 games, but for some strange reason he seems to get a rough ride from fans.
He’s not the biggest or toughest player, but at 23 his future isn’t looking dim right now. The Leafs are strong on Wing with or without Joffrey Lupul who is also a big trade talk guy right now. Kessel, and Clarkson, who will rebound, are on the right side and JVR and Komorov are on the left along with Lupul if he sticks.
The Leafs have some interesting young D men. I like Cody Franson. I think there is an upside to Jake Gardiner, and Reilly Morgan had a good first season considering that he’s been rushed to the NHL and probably could have used a season with the Marlies.
Jonathan Bernier is a good goalie. He’s proven that. I’m not sure he’s a great goalie especially if Toronto have to pay him over $5M after next season. James Reimer is an enigma that may or may not be a Leaf come season opener.
Essentially the recipe for a team collapse and chase for Connor McDavid is there. It’s not a high percentage play; but the lower the Leafs tumble the better the chances or less it’d take to trade for his rights.
That being said the team could pull off three stunning trades and make a run for Lord Stanley’s Cup! You just never know in the NHL no matter how smart you are.
What do you think Leaf Nation? Are you happy with the team’s non moves this off season? Will they be better than last year?
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