Leafs ‘Open For Business’
Although Burke didn’t reveal specifics, one would assume the Leafs are in the market for a big center. To be fair, Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski provide decent production down the middle, but neither are sure choices for number one center in the long-term at this stage.
So get your trading caps on because the Internet is going to be flooded with trade proposals, most of which are completely ridiculous. With rumors afloat that the Leafs are interested in Brad Richards, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, Burke declined to comment when asked if he was inquiring about the 30-year-old’s services. Of course, that could mean absolutely nothing and it’s likely Richards remains nothing but a pipedream, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
With the demotion of Jeff Finger, the Leafs haveÂ approximately $4.7 million in cap space. Even with Finger’s contract buried in the minors, the Leafs possess seven NHL-ready defensemen. Although it’s certainly an advantage for the club, one would think Burke is willing to unload a top four defenseman to acquire some firepower upfront. Dion Phaneuf, Tomas Kaberle (Burke once again said he isn’t going anywhere) and Luke Schenn are not getting traded, so scratch them off the list right away. And it’s hard to imagine any team willing to absorb Mike Komisarek‘s $4.5 million cap-hit. That leaves Francois Beauchemin and his lucrative, but manageable $3.8 million cap-hit. The 30-year-old rearguard is off to a decent start with the Leafs and has established some chemistry with captain Phaneuf. If he continues to provide the Leafs with stability on the backend, perhaps his contract won’t be impossible to unload after all. However, the Leafs would, Â in all likelihood, have to take a lucrative contract in return—and Richards’ $7.8 million cap-hit isn’t exactly a bargain.
However, as Burke had said, nothing is imminent (especially with the Leafs off to a torrid start), so it’s likely he doesn’t pull the trigger on a trade until the trade deadline. But until then, one would assume the Leafs’ lone bargaining chip is to unload one of its excess defensemen, which in turn would open up a top four spot for Komisarek.
In any case, it’s nice to see the Leafs in an advantageous position for once because of roster depth.
Do you think the Leafs should target Richards? If not, who do you think Burke will target in the coming months?
You stay classy, MLHS.