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Ulmer Asks: Will A Trade Help The Leafs?

Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 4:06 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer  - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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Ulmer Asks: Will A Trade Help The Leafs?

Ryan Miller is one Gloomy Gus but if he is right, the Maple Leafs season may not be headed for a happy ending. See the video here

It’s Miller’s contention that no deal can shake the formaldehyde out of the Buffalo Sabres. What’s worth noting here is that the Sabres beat the Leafs in their last meeting and sit six points behind Toronto.

With 37 games to play, that’s far from insurmountable and it sets a mind to wondering: if no trade would save the Buffalo Sabres, can one salvage the playoffs for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
It had better.

It’s ridiculous to say that yet another spring out of the playoffs would be catastrophic to Leaf fans, ownership and management. It would be far, far worse than that.

Brian Burke has hinted broadly that something will get done and soon. Names ping-pong through the media: Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, James van Riemsdyk and Eric Staal. The timing on past deals suggests we are entering the sweet spot in Burke’s trading season.

The tension is peaking. The Leafs game-day scratch list is garnering more attention than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So tightfisted with star centres are NHL GMs that it’s been six years since one, Joe Thornton, was traded. Bruins’ GM Mike O’Connell may have poisoned the well. He lasted just three months after dealing Thornton who spitefully won the Art Ross and the Hart Trophy that season.

This won’t happen this year. In fact, the closest of the four to a scoring title is Eric Staal, who sits a cozy 47th.

Behold Ulmerstandings XVII: A list of possible acquisitions and where they sit in the NHL in goals and points.

Player Goals NHL Rank Points NHL Rank
Bobby Ryan 17 24th 28 95th
Ryan Getzlaf 7 182 31 72nd
James van Riemsdyk 11 105th 22 159th
Eric Staal 11 47th 34 47th

Some thoughts to ponder. First, you buy when the stock dips. Ryan, Getzlaf and Staal are obviously better than their point totals but their team’s freefall in the standings has corresponded neatly with their own sagging performances. Van Riemsdyk is concussed but even before his injury it was hard to fathom a situation where the Flyers would part with a forward who was dominant in last year’s playoffs.

Second, none of these guys are Joe Thornton.

Third, the San Jose Sharks haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the trade. The Bruins have.

Maybe Ryan Miller is right but there is no doubt that as they head into the All-Star Break the team needs size up front and perhaps the services of a seasoned goaltender.

Nor will anyone argue with the notion that Nazem Kadri, Luke Schenn, Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin and Jesse Blacker give the Leafs the requisite prospects to make something happen.

But Miller raises an interesting point. The question isn’t whether the Leafs can make a trade in the most crucial days of their rebuild. The real question is if they do, will it help?

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