With the trade deadline looming and 3 of our vets entering UFA this summer, many fans are asking do we go for it now ? The answer lies in how Lou and the management see this team. Can the likes of JVR, Bozak and Komorov offer the playoff leadership this young team needs to win a round or more? Or does Lou get something for them now and continue "The build" ?
First, let us consider that this team already seems to be on a collision course with arch nemesis Boston, who are playing very well these days. At the same time Florida and Detroit are unlikely to catch Toronto if they play .500 from here on in. It can't be said Toronto has played well this year as some of their offense has dried up and they still need help on defense. Luckily though the Leafs are in the Atlantic. Last year Lou traded a second to get rental Dan Boyle from Tampa Bay, and of course he has 2 second round picks(one from SJ) in this summer's draft. On the one hand we have strong willed Babcock who will want success now, something far less likely if we lose JVR or Bozak. Unless Lou gets a "Knock your socks off!" type of deal, he won't be a seller, much to the chagrin of the "asset management" fans we now have in abundance in Toronto. I'm one but realize big trades rarely happen at TD and rarely produce fruit as the players have trouble adjusting in such a short span of time. Lou likes to start early on his trades as he did when he dumped Phaneuff into Ottawa's hands, a problem they are still trying to deal with themselves. The most likely outcome is Lou will try and get a reasonable rental and keep his vets. After all, all of them could be resigned, as JVR is rumoured to be open to. Don't expect any big news from Toronto this TD. They know this team won't win it all but they don't want to see their 3 UFA vets walk after exiting in the first round of the playoffs either. The Leafs aren't in a good position to trade their first rounders yet as the system still has gaps such as Centre depth and Goal. The compromise ? Add a vet defenseman and see what the team can do. If they lose in the first, maybe it is time to move on and give younger guys like Kapanen, Gauthier, Soshnikov and perhaps Johnsson their chance. Youth served Toronto well last year. The focus will be on gaining playoff experience and winning a round and that means adding not subtracting this TD, albeit judiciously. It is a gamble to play the vets and risk them walking for nothing but getting the kids some valuable playoff experience will be the priority with this management group.