I take comfort and great fun in the silliness of the off-season in Leafland. Now over the most recent season of disappointment, Leafs fans are reinvigorated and ready to build a winner from their armchairs, one trade or signing at a time. We’ve been talking about Zach Parise’s potential free agent status off and on since August of 2011. The names Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo and Justin Schultz have been discussed for a few months now. At risk of encouraging in the silliness – screw it, that’s what the month of June is for – let’s talk about another name this Sunday morning.
As we all know, every report involving a hockey trade rumour includes the Leafs as a possible destination on a list of about ten teams. Last night, the NHL Network mentioned the Leafs alongside the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild as expressing interest in Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal.
I should admit: I’m biased. I’m from Peterborough, where Jordan played his junior hockey, and I have been waiting for him to figure out he should go to a team without Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it for about three years now. I nodded along as I read The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy’s opinion piece encouraging Brian Burke to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Ray Shero to try to acquire Staal (That said, I’m not about to propose this. Sorry I made you read that).
An objective question: Can Staal actually be a number one center, the one we’ve been talking about needing since Sundin left? His last two injury derailed seasons had him on a 60+ point pace, and he’s proven better than a number three time and again during Malkin and Crosby’s respective absences… but is he a number one in the truest sense of the term?
My next question is: does it matter? This is a player who brings something to the table in every category the Leafs fall short. Size down the middle. Two-way ability with a good defensive conscience (theoretically, the perfect pivot for Lupul and Kessel, who score a lot together but get scored on a lot, too). A 6’4, 215-pound weapon who can help sustain possession and offensive zone time. An able penalty killer. A 24 year old with a Cup ring.
Add in the fact that he’s an Ontario boy (sure to get a firm thumbs-up from Don Cherry) on a good contract ($4 million, at least for one more year), and it all sounds great on paper. Will Pittsburgh find a way to accommodate his needs and keep him in the “burgh? With Crosby and Malkin entering next season healthy, that’s hard to picture, but who knows. Would he prefer to play second fiddle behind Eric in Carolina? How scary is the price?
Like many you’ll hear in the coming days, this rumour is far from solid, but I certainly hope Burke is exploring the avenue.
Leafs would not trade Schenn for 1st overall pick straight up, Toronto sports insider says. What?!
Damien Cox says the Leafs wouldn’t trade Luke Schenn straight up for the first overall pick. I say Cox is crazy and it doesn’t matter anyways.
VLM: As rumours flourish, letâ€™s get realistic: do the Leafs chase any of Nash, Luongo, Getzlaf or the number one overall pick?
Michael Langlois is on board with me on Staal.
REGARDING “KESSEL FOR NASH”, OR BRIAN BURKE’S ONTARIO PROBLEM
Cam Charron cuts through the crap.
Maple Leafs likely to pass on Rick Nash, pitch for Roberto Luongo
Cox suggests Nash may have scratched the Leafs from his shortlist anyways, but that Schultz and Luongo are in the picture as both fit the long term plan.