Playing The Odds


    As the Trade Deadline approaches, speculation will continue to grow over which Maple Leaf players may be moving on to new NHL destinations.

    The following is my own personal estimation of the likelihood of regular roster players actually getting dealt, based upon contract status, playoff/stretch drive impact potential, comments from players/coaches/management, and of course the metaphorical smoke & fire (the amount of repetition in the rumour mills).   To quote the great Chazz Palminteri, “a rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die”.

    Note: trade likelihoods are in reference to March 4th only, not the upcoming offseason.

    The big winger is by far the most likely candidate to be moved at the Trade Deadline, due primarily to his affordability and pending UFA status.   After having his game publically questioned by the coach and GM, Antropov has rebounded with a solid effort.    Burke will reportedly not move Antropov for less than the equivalent of a 1st round pick, but a playoff-desperate team in the 8-10 spot in the conference might be willing to pay the asking price, especially if size up front is a concern.

    Pros: size, scoring touch, can play centre
    Cons: limited playoff experience, not overly physical, pending UFA
    Possible Return: 1st rd pick / prospect drafted in 1st rd / 2nd rd pick + prospect
    Possible Destinations: Anaheim, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Washington
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 90%.

    It’s been a rebound season for the speedy winger, who has played very well on a lacklustre squad.  But he is 34 years old, with 3 years remaining on his contract, at $4 million per season.   If Burke can find a team desperate for speed, veteran savvy, and/or struggling to meet the cap floor, there may be a deal to be had — but don’t bet on it.

    Pros: Speed, experience, aggressive forechecking
    Cons: 34 years old with 3 years remaining on his contract
    Possible Return: 3rd or 4th rd pick (age and contract work against the team)
    Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Nashville
    Likelihood Of Being Traded: 10%.

    Leaf fans are salivating over the potential return for one of the league’s top offensive rearguards.  The problem is, Kaberle has only suggested he would consider waiving his NTC, and Brian Burke has openly pondered the difficulty of replacing Kaberle’s skill set.  Ultimately, whether or not a trade happens will depend on whether Burke feels an offer is simply too good to pass up … and whether or not Kaberle wants to play for that team.

    Pros: top offense-producing blueliner since the lockout, contract is a relative bargain
    Cons: average in his own zone, not a physical player, wants to stay in East
    Possible Return: 1st rd pick + top-rated prospect is the rumoured starting point for negotiations
    Possible Desitinations: Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 50%

    He is the subject of many rumours, but he has been adamant in his refusal to waive his NTC.  Teams looking for veteran defenders, playoff experience, and a good point shot will without doubt be calling, but the ball remains squarely in Kubina’s court.  At this point, he is more likely to be dealt at the draft when his NTC expires, than at the trade deadline.

    Pros: experience, hard right-handed shot on the powerplay
    Cons: below average skater, prohibitive contract
    Possible Return: 1st rd pick / 2nd rd pick + prospect
    Possible Destinations: Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Vancouver
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 25%

    A role player who has all the intangibles playoff-bound GMs are looking for: grit, speed, heart, defensive insticts, and playmaking ability.   The consummate third line centre, Moore may not be the most talented player, but is among the most dependable in all areas of the ice.   Look for Burke to try to trade Moore with the intent of re-signing him as a UFA next season.

    Pros: Dependable, can fill a variety of roles (including wing), excellent on the PK
    Cons: Would play a lesser role on deeper teams, is a pending UFA
    Possible Return: 3rd or 4th rd pick (career role player)
    Possible Destinations: Boston, Calgary, St. Louis, Washington
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 75%

    The other big winger on the Maple Leafs is a model of inconsistency.  Poni has loads of talent, but rarely does he play a physical game, or use his size to create offensive chances.   If anybody needs a fresh start, it may be Poni, but is there a GM willing to take the risk that his coach can get through to him?

    Pros: great size, strong on the puck, decent shot, affordable contract
    Cons: tends to play on the perimeter as opposed to in traffic, effort has never been consistent
    Possible Return: 3rd rd pick (too inconsistent to merit more)
    Possible Destinations: Anaheim, Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 60%

    Stajan has had a breakout year, offensively, while maintaining his solid two-way play and leadership on and off the ice.   While he is not a player that will put a team over the top, he could be a solid complimentary player in both a secondary scoring and special teams role.  The question facing Burke is: how easily could he replace all the things Stajan does well?

    Pros: playmaking insticts, defensive play, faceoffs, leadership, young & affordable
    Cons: not overly physical, average scoring touch, no playoff experience
    Possible Return: 2nd rd pick / 3rd rd pick + prospect
    Possible Destinations: Columbus, Florida, St. Louis
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 40%

    After displaying several moments of brilliance last season, Toskala has looked as though he is on another planet for most of this campaign.  His reflexes are lightning-quick, but his focus has left much to be desired, especially when facing unscreened shots from the wing.    A team desperate in net may be willing to take a flyer on the off-chance that Toskala rediscovers his game with a better defensive unit in front of him. It is more likely that Burke will hang onto him in the hopes that he can sort his game out over the summer, to provide better trade value at next year’s deadline.

    Pros: Quick glove, moves well in net, has started in the playoffs
    Cons: Small, not very aggressive, loses focus easily
    Possible Return: 3rd or 4th rd pick (poor play all but eliminates trade leverage)
    Possible Destinations: Columbus, Detroit, St.Louis
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 25%

    This year’s Mr.Infirmiry for the Maple Leafs has been a very effective player this season — when he has been in the lineup, that is.   Given the rate at which he has been injured this season, league interest will likely be minimal.   Expect Burke to hang onto Van Ryn in the hopes that a healthy campaign next season will increase his trade value.

    Pros: Decent offensive instincts, good PP quarterback
    Can’t seem to stay healthy
    Possible Return: mid-level prospect (too many injuries to command more value)
    Possible Destinations: Ottawa, San Jose, Tampa Bay
    Likelihood of Being Traded: 10%

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