As trade rumour season heats up and the Toronto Maple Leafs slip in the standings from 5th to 8th in the past week, Leafs Nation will almost certainly be whipped up into a frenzy over every name mentioned. While we aren’t a rumour website, we are within 19 days of the deadline and there has been some legitimate talk from *actual* members of the media and evidence of three teams in different conferences scouting each other heavily that don’t normally do so.
A lot can change depending on the Leafs position in the standings in the eight games before the deadline, but the Leafs figure to be, theoretically, both buyers and sellers. Granted, in a lockout-shortened season it’s hard to ascertain what the nature of the landscape will be – or if there will be much movement at all – at a deadline where so many teams will still believe in the legitimacy of their playoff hopes. A buyers-heavy market could lend itself to moving out a few free agents-to-be and not so much to adding pieces at a reasonable price.
If the Leafs are looking to add, one name of interest has been that of 34-year-old Dallas Stars power forward Brenden Morrow. The Maple Leafs have scouted the Dallas Stars their last two games and the Stars were scouting the game last night with the Pittsburgh Penguins in town visiting the Leafs. The Stars have a tough decision to make regarding Brenden Morrow and they don’t appear, at this stage, to be willing to extend him before the deadline. That isn’t to say that they can’t get a deal worked out before July 1st, but there is a lot of chatter heating up at the moment. Dallas is trying to get younger and would reportedly be looking for a top prospect or pick — possibly more, which is a heavy price for a player that plays a hard-nosed style and has a body older than his already-far-from-prime years suggest. The Stars won’t get either of those things.
The second name that keeps surfacing is Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues. Stewart is off to a good start with the Blues and is leading their team in points at the moment, this coming after a season in which Stewart spent significant time in the bottom six. GM Doug Armstrong gave Stewart a “show-me” one-year contract and he’s delivered. While St. Louis is having an up-and-down 2013, they’re 4th in the West (three points separate 4th from 9th) and it seems unlikely the Blues will sell off an important piece, though the pending RFA is in need of a contract.
The Leafs, as has been talked about ad nauseum, need to get bigger up front and Chris Stewart definitely fits the power-forward mould, as does Brenden Morrow. The Leafs are in no place to be giving up top-prospects at this stage, or trading away draft picks for an aging power forward in the twilight of his career, but if there is a sensible deal to be made with assets not including prospects such as Joe Colborne, Matt Finn, Stuart Percy or Tyler Biggs or first round picks (or multiple 1st round picks), then it’s something worth investigating. How much longer Morrow has as a player in the league is something that can be debated heavily—power forwards have a short shelf life and he’s had some injury issues in the past. As for the “pros,” Morrow is a winner, a fierce competitor, a Olympic Gold Medalist and The Dallas Stars Captain would provide some needed leadership at the forward position, alleviating some of the pressure that Dion Phaneuf shoulders night in and night out.[table “101” not found /]