The Maple Leafs did nothing, and that’s all right

The Maple Leafs did nothing, and that’s all right

For the first time since 2006, the Maple Leafs stood pat on trade deadline day.
It was the right move.

On a day where pretty well every team around the Leafs got better, there wasn’t a whole lot out there that made sense for this team to do, in part because of cap constraints.

The Leafs already don’t have a second round pick for the upcoming draft, so moving multiple picks — which is what netted Goc, Hemsky and MacDonald — would have gutted their draft pick stocks. Going into the draft with, say, only a 1st and 4th just so that Marcel Goc can play on the Leafs third line instead of Peter Holland doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

There are a group of good productive players that went for only a single draft pick, and usually not even a significant one. Penner and Robidas were traded for 4th round picks, Stempniak went for a 3rd, and Weaver went for a 5th. The issue with bringing in any of these players is that someone would have had to have been moved out to make space. Is it worth bringing in Penner and trading Kulemin away? Or trading for Stempniak and moving out Raymond? You can argue the Leafs might have been able to trade a fourth for one of those players before turning and acquiring a third for one of their own guys (unlikely due to the market this Deadline, but we’ll roll with it), yet all it would result in is the Leafs needlessly moving around deck chairs on a team that’s sitting in a playoff spot as is. Why mess with it just to bring in a new guy? That’s called shiny toy syndrome.

Moving beyond the players moved for draft picks, there were some guys traded that would have just made no sense for the Leafs to acquire. A guy like Tuomo Ruutu, with his bad contract, serves no purpose in Toronto. Matt Moulson would be nice to have in Toronto, but the Leafs don’t have their second round pick this year or next year, and two of those is what it took to get him out of Buffalo. Do you trade a 1st for Moulson instead? No way. In the same boat, the Kings traded a 2nd and a conditional 3rd (along with Matt Frattin) for a player in Marian Gaborik who flat out hasn’t been very good. Gaborik could turn it around and there’s no question he’s a great player when he’s on his game, but given what we know right now and his price tag that’s another move that would have been a head scratcher for the Leafs. Getting David Legwand for a good prospect, reasonable pick and a roster player would have made even less sense, and let’s not even talk about Martin Erat.

If there’s one guy the Leafs probably missed out on it is Thomas Vanek just on account of the dirt cheap price paid for him by Montreal relative to how good he is. Ultimately, though, that’s the result of being right up against the cap and in part counting on Bolland returning to play this season. If the Leafs brought in Vanek, it would have required a series of moves to fit him under the cap and, at this stage, it doesn’t appear the management group thought that was worth it considering where this team is situated in their development. While the Leafs don’t get a pass for not having cap space, living in the moment of the deadline, it was apparent their hands were tied. Other than Vanek, it didn’t make sense to add a piece for one pick and trade one of their own for a pick to make space just for the sake of change.

There were good players that moved the last two days, but the Leafs are relatively full up. Is JVR-Bozak-Kessel, Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin, Raymond-Holland-Clarkson, a contending top nine? Probably not. But there wasn’t one player that was moved the last few days that would have changed that save for maybe Vanek (St. Louis doesn’t count because he was only going to the Rangers) in a wide-open East.

It’s also important to remember that, most importantly, the Leafs are in a playoff spot right now and in good shape. They need to play .500 hockey down the stretch here to clinch and young talent like Holland, Gardiner, Rielly and Kadri (we forget how young he is) are going to play prime roles and get opportunities to learn and grow down the stretch. The other positive, as far as I can see, is that Vancouver wasn’t picked apart yet as some had thought. Kesler and Edler are still there for the taking come draft day, and even a rumoured potential seller in Carolina didn’t move out any big names like a Skinner or a Staal. With trading chips such as Reimer, Franson and more in Nonis’ pocket, the Leafs are going to go into the summer with cap space and will be primed to make a move to add a big piece (hopefully a top-four defenseman).

For now, though, let’s see what this team can do. They didn’t need to make a move to help boost them into a playoff spot; they’re already there. They are set in net and they have their top defenseman locked up long term, with two promising kids in Gardiner and Rielly getting opportunity and ice time (and how about the great play of Paul Ranger lately?). Peter Holland is getting a chance here to make a statement for next season and the top line is rolling. Whenever the second line is Lupul-Kadri-Kulemin it does well and provides a nice balance, so hopefully that sticks. If Bolland can return and contribute, and Clarkson can ever contribute something, this team is in pretty good shape. There isn’t one team in the East they should fear like a Chicago, St. Louis or LA out West. Before we look that far ahead, however, this group still has to clinch the playoffs.

The Leafs are a young team that is getting better and in a good spot for a successful offseason considering their expendable assets and cap space. It makes a lot more sense for this team to make a big move at the draft or in the summer and legitimately fix a problem (again, particularly on defense) than it does to trade a pick for a band-aid and subsequently move one of their own to make it fit. It’s frustrating that every team around the Leafs at least appear to have gotten better, but there’s nothing the Leafs can do about that. They have 18 games left now to make the playoffs, with an upcoming five-game road trip that will probably swing their fate for the better or worse. It’s the most exciting time of the season, and Nonis has put his faith in this group to get the job done. It’s up to them now.

Anthony Petrielli has been writing Leafs Notebooks, also known as short stories, on MLHS since the beginning of the 2011 season. He'd rather let his work do the talking but Alec and Declan have been bugging him about writing a bio, so here it is. You can contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @APetrielli
740 comments
GoalerOKeeper
GoalerOKeeper

@APetrielli I agree offseason should focus on D But I wonder if they could get someone like Moulson in place of Raymond $ may go up too high

GoddTill
GoddTill

@APetrielli according to McKenzie, it seems like the Leafs did make a serious offer for Vanek...

leafs2479
leafs2479

A 1st and 3 2nd rounders plus a player is too much for Vanek. Regardless of whether he signs or not.

Bruffins
Bruffins

Montreal fans really not impressed with Vanek's effort in his first game. Can you blame him having to play for that team?

Jay31
Jay31

holyy what a pass by Jumbo Joe. Still a beast

Ze_theLeafsFan
Ze_theLeafsFan

Today's games worked for the Leafs favour. Great

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

AP: am late to the party. Did not like the title to your piece! You may have seen my recent posts, where my message is this sloppy, non-60 minute focus, BLOW leads, turn up late, etc etc is Unacceptable. If we didn't trade then we need RC to stress his message via the Bench, I have a lot of Angst at the way this teamJeckyll and Hydes. No outward message of accountability. We go as out top line goes. The picture of NONO says it all for me. Indifference. we have the skill, but CBJ showed us what solid coaching means.. Otherwise great post.

I want a shout out to Bozie. You play with two greats, and you definitely come to play. Thank you Good Sir, now drive us into the playoffs please.

DJGLENN22
DJGLENN22

OEL with 30 minutes of ice time

Bruffins
Bruffins

Best hockey night not involving the Leafs ever!!!

DJGLENN22
DJGLENN22

Power play coming up for the Yotes new guy Weaver with a tripping penalty.........lets go Yotes

Hammertownleaffan
Hammertownleaffan

Vrbata scooooooores....The 5 teams that were playing tonight that were near us in the standings got a combined 1 point tonight

APetrielli
APetrielli

@GoddTill Ya I know. I wrote that before that came out. If they tried to get him & couldn't there's really nothing else they could have done

Jay31
Jay31

@Ze_theLeafsFan  now just need to go something like 9-9, 8-8-2, or 7-7-4 to get in, 92 pts

Fish Head
Fish Head

@Belfour20 How about Petter Granberg from the Marlies. He's a young stay at home D-Man turning 23 before next season and has size 6'2" 205lbs. and he leads the Marlies in +/- with +18. This won't cost us any picks/players and will help our cap number as well. I love seeing the young guys get a chance and this one has shown he deserves it. My money is on him making the club next season.

Ze_theLeafsFan
Ze_theLeafsFan

@Belfour20  From my point of view. I guess it never hurts to have more assets. Vanek would have been a quality asset. If Leafs got him, they could probably move other players or something like that. But I see your point, they should focus on D

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Belfour20  

MacDonald was too pricey for the Leafs. Glad Nonis didn't make any dumb moves. There's nothing to suggest that he hasn't or isn't planning on targeting a defence man this summer via trade. And one that makes sense for this team and not just who's available right now during a crazy time of the year.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Belfour20  Because he knows the issue is team defense. Yes, Gardiner and Franson make too many mistakes, but do you think Colorado's shitty D aren't making even more mistakes? They are, they just have forwards that do their job. I think there's some evidence to suggest he doesn't trust Carlyle long-term either. 

Bon Scott was a Leaf fan
Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

@wiski  

No shit, eh??  Never thought I'd see the day when any of Gretzky's records were broken.  That's impressive.

Marlies Man
Marlies Man

@Waiting4LSC Great post  except you disagree with it all? There was no trade yesterday that would have put us closer to the Stanley Cup. Hopefully, there will be this summer and the current core members gain more valuable experience between now and then. Make the playoffs and go from there.

Anthony Petrielli
Anthony Petrielli

@Waiting4LSC  Thanks for the post and honesty. Still don't see much that the Leafs missed out on though to be honest. 

Bon Scott was a Leaf fan
Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

@Waiting4LSC  

LSC, every time you start out a post with AP:......makes me think you are releasing a bulletin to the Associated Press.  Please continue, my good sir.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Waiting4LSC  Honest question for you - how many fan bases actually think their team gives a 60-minute focused effort regularly? 

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As for the blown leads, well, we're 23-3-2 when leading after 2 periods. So if we're blowing leads, we're winning anyways. 

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I don't think Nonis is indifferent, I think he's just smart enough to know you can't fix your team at the deadline. With a better coach, the acquisition of Holland might have been one of the most significant in-season transactions. Even with Carlyle, I bet he ends up being more helpful than the vast majority of deadline acquisitions. 

GoddTill
GoddTill

@APetrielli I like that they tried (and believe it b/c its from Bob and not Dreger). VG player at bargain price.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Marlies Man: appreciate the post. Truthfully, I'm not disagreeing with Anthony, just saying I want to see a much mentally tougher squad.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

AP: thanks are all mine good sir. Always anxious for another piece from you. All I wanted to say was, with or without trades there needs to be a change in mental attitude. This is the playoff drive, and if you can't find intensity, focus and mental strength to protect a lead, or to sustain offensive pressure, then success will inevitably evade.

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Much appreciated Good Sir. TBT I hope AP will respond with a bulletin. Same for Alec, but just wish the Boss would hit some personal/analytical posts (show us a little more of his own views).

Waiting4LSC
Waiting4LSC

Cam: appreciate the post. Don't know about other fan bases, but my concern is that we are in a real playoff drive where intensity and focus are necessary to succeed. I don't see it consistently, and being slow out of the gate is inexcusable. Good point about blown leads, but we have squandered 20 third period leads, and that to be suggests a lck of mental maturity, key to a good playoff run. My biggest beef is with the Coaching and accountability. I believe this squad is playoff ready, if they can put their game together. I want to enjoy the playoffs, I want to be Leaf Proud. Really appreciate your views.

Savo43
Savo43

@Belfour20 @GreekGod  What you heard, and what you know is true are entirely different things. If opposing GMs know what you're after, their prices go up. 

GreekGod
GreekGod

@Belfour20 @GreekGod  

I get it... but just because we didn't hear anything about a D man, doesn't mean Nonis didn't talk to a GM about acquiring one or it won't happen this summer. Nonis worked on the Holland deal for 6 months. Can't remember how long it took him to work on the Phaneuf deal with Burke but it took some time as well. Plus, I'd rather Nonis use picks and prospects or roster players to land a D man the will help now and in the future and not just for a run for these coming playoffs.