Now that we pretty much agreed that tanking is the way to go (had to drag this writer in chains and he’s still not at peace with it), let’s try to examine how much Leafs Nation really needs that high end first round pick/player.
When you take tanking out of the equation (and if youâ€™re like me, you have to, because itâ€™s not like youâ€™re going to stop watching this team) you realize that watching the current day Edmonton Oilers really seems more fun than watching the current day Maple Leafs. The amount of sheer young talent and hope for the future makes games exciting, makes fans watch even though they are losing games. Watching Taylor Hall fly down the wing, Eberleâ€™s quick hands or an 8 point night by Sam Gagner beats watching basically the same result with no such talent on the roster.
Patience is a funny thing. If we define belief by blindly trusting with little to no evidence needed, fine, we all believe by now. But patience is partially defined by waiting for something. You donâ€™t wait for something if you donâ€™t have reasonable assurances that it will come. Belief and patience go hand in hand sometimes, but it would be much easier if the patience of Leafs Nation was coupled by actual proof or just higher probability of success in the future.
You can argue that in some ways, we do have that. Jake Gardiner is one such way. His skillset is what gave me most of my patience late this year. Phil Kessel is another. Again, we can argue the Kessel trade until weâ€™re blue in the face (and we are, if you know what I mean) but fact remains heâ€™s a 24 year old 35 goals plus scoring winger who does exactly what he needs to do. He scores goals.
Nazem Kadri? Iâ€™m still reserved when talking about his future NHL role, as I think we should all be. Some prospects mature later than others. Funny thing, if he was with the Oilers, he would probably be playing, putting up around 50-55 points playing with talented players. We would all be including him in that amazing prospect pool when salivating over how talented the young Oilers are. But would that be best for his development as an NHL player? Weâ€™ll never know.
However, Iâ€™m of the opinion that seeing that â€œhigher probabilityâ€ perform would give us added patience or would tone down the ever growing criticism of Burke. Perhaps Kadri canâ€™t provide that right now, perhaps he could have. What I know for sure is that getting a high end offensive player like Nail Yakupov (probably just dreaming here but letâ€™s just use him as an example, I know heâ€™s not a center) would galvanize this team, the fan base and would give added time to Burke to go about his business.
I always say that Iâ€™m not just interested in watching superstars play hockey. While that remains true, Iâ€™ve wanted for something to lift me out of my seat throughout this Leaf freefall but it never came. Perhaps a presence of that â€œfranchiseâ€ player would have made it easier to deal with what I already know – the rebuild (strictly prospects wise) is going well. The prospect pool is deeper, the maturation process is long. Problem is, after this long, you really need proof, highly skilled proof.