As we approach the 2017 trade deadline day, we see a far different Toronto Maple Leafs. After drastically changing the roster, bringing in Mike Babcock as head coach, gone is the goal tending controversy of the drama between James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. Under the guidance of Lou Lamoriello, Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock the new and far younger Maple Leafs have come a long way in exceeding expectations in a much faster and tougher NHL.
As trade deadline day looms on the horizon each team will take stock of assets and consider potential trades to improve the roster and plan for the future. The Leafs have a solid offensive core with Mitch Merner, Auston Mathews, William Nylander and James Van Riemsdyk. With Matthews and Marner not missing a beat and keeping the Calder Trophy race tight with Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, the Leafs are having a hell of an exciting season. Each respectively with 49pts (Matthews), 48pts (Marner) and 52pts (Laine) will make for arguably the most exciting Calder Trophy race since Sidney Crosby took the league by a storm.
As impressive as their offensive capabilities have been the Leafs defense core is lagging behind. A mixture of youth and inexperience it had left them vulnerable many times especially while trying to close out a game in the third period. Cue the recent 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators for example. Trade wise this is an area of concern. This teams needs a top tier defenceman. Question is – what are they willing to do to get one? JVR? Nylander? Doubtful and in less than 10 days time we will have our answer.
One recent area that the management have addressed well is the addition of Curtis McElhinney in goal to back up the starter Andersen. At 33 McElhinney had added a Veteran journeyman stability to a often shaky starter in Andersen.
It is unlikely that the Maple Leafs make a big splash at this time. It doesn’t make sense in this stage of their rebuild. The kids are simply not far enough along to make that one big move that will push them to contend.
I of course would be more than happy to be proven wrong in the coming days as we all watch anxiously for potential moves.
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