Seven games into the season might still be too early to panic, but it’s becoming quite clear that we’re inching quickly towards the button. The Sun is reporting that Brian Burke has beeen making calls around the league in search for another goal scoring forward. In the same article, the Sun also mentions that Florida has begun preliminary talks in exploring trade possibilities for young power forward Nathan Horton, who has thus far struggled out of the gate. Is there a possible fit here?
After last night’s one goal effort, the Maple Leafs now sit at a grand total of 14 goals scored in 7 games played for a pitiful 2 goals per game average, less than half of what they’ve given up in their own net. The Leafs have an all-around need for toughness, physicality and goal scoring ability and upon first glance, it certainly seems like Nathan Horton would address a lot of those needs. The addition of such an impact player may be what the Leafs need to get them going.
Horton is the former 3rd overall pick in the loaded 2003 NHL Entry Draft, who has been perennially pegged as a breakout candidate in fantasy pools. He’s had seasons of 28, 31, and 27 goals already under his belt, but has yet to take that step to become the truly dominant 40 goal power forward many feel he has the potential to be. So far this year, he’s only managed a meager 2 goals in 6 games played.
With only arguably two natural right wingers (Stempniak and Mayers) on the roster, Horton would be a nice fit in the Leafs’ lineup on the top line this season, and would complete a formidable trio with Kadri and Kessel for years to come. The fit becomes even more interesting when you consider the general lack of size from the Leafs’ young forward corps with names such as Bozak, Grabovski, Kadri, and Kessel. The team has lacked a player who can park himself in front of the net, particularly on the powerplay, and right now Matt Stajan isn’t really cutting it at that role. The bonus is that the 24 year old Horton is also signed through 2012-2013 at a reasonable $4 million cap hit.
Not surprisingly, the Panthers are likely to ask for a significant bounty if they were to part with Horton, especially considering the fact they’ve had their own goal scoring woes with just 13 so far on the season. The question then becomes: do the Leafs have enough assets to get it done? Assuming that Schenn, Kadri and Kessel are untouchable, that leaves very little for Burke to package together. As a recent free agent signing, it would not look particularly well on the Leafs to move Bozak either. Without any high picks at their disposal, that leaves players such as Tlusty, Stefanovich, Kulemin, Stajan, and Grabovski as the only potential assets.
Florida might be intrigued at the notion of reuniting Kaberle with McCabe, but it’s unlikely the Leafs would ask Tomas to waive his NTC and it appears that this current lineup couldn’t survive without Kaberle’s puck skills anyways. What would you think of a package starting perhaps with Grabovski and Kulemin? Likely not enough because the bidding is surely going to go very high if the Panthers do ultimately decide to make their promising young power forward available. Is there a way to bring Nathan Horton up north?
In other news, just to throw some more fuel onto the rumor fires, there were several scouts from the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild at the Toronto Marlies game on Saturday afternoon. Hmm….