February is when the madness begins in cities across the NHL. This is no different in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs sit comfortably in a playoff position with 29 games to play. With the trade deadline now just around the corner, the crazy and often ludicrous trade rumours make their rounds across social media and the internet. In Toronto already, I have come across Jake Gardiner, James Van Riemsdyk , Tyler Bozak trade rumours that is just the start. As a report in the NY Post connecting the Maple Leafs to the New York Rangers in a possible trade for Ryan McDonagh also made its rounds.
I clearly don’t envision the Maple Leafs making that large of a trade mid season and upset what has been a winning recipe as of late with the Maple Leafs winning four straight and in striking distance of Boston for home ice advantage in their opening round playoff match up. In the NY Post article written by Brett Cyrgalis he is quoted as saying “There is a bevy of young talent up front for the Leafs, and if Gorton could pry away the likes of either a Mitch Marner, William Nylander or Zach Hyman, plus some sort of high draft pick, a deal could be more than worthwhile for both sides.”
This is exact trade under Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello the Maple Leafs have been against making. Why would the Maple Leafs give up any of Nylander, Marner, Hyman and a high draft pick for a player that is 29 in the summer?
Why now that Travis Dermott has all but earned a roster spot on the big club for the remainder of the season, and Connor Carrick and Andreas Borgman who can round out the bottom two would the Maple Leafs make this trade? That isn’t even mentioning the early results with defence the pairing of Holl and Dermott which has been excellent and would offer the Maple Leafs a cheaper long-term solution heading into next season and still keep the team competitive this year.
The Maple Leafs are only in year three of a five-year plan, why accelerate this process now? The path to failure especially in Toronto has been littered with good intentions. What may look like a good trade now could be the worst thing to happen in the long run. It is this nearsightedness that has crippled this franchise and perpetuated the losing year after year. Let’s not get ahead ourselves, as this was going to be a five-year plan so let’s see the five years through. Yes, the early results look favourable, but a team can find itself with bad contacts and dead cap weight quickly if they don’t manage themselves and their team with patience and foresight.
Expect no fireworks or quick fixes at the deadline, as Matt Martin who has all but been placed on Robidas Island with the recent call-up of Kasperi Kapanen may be the only player off the active roster that started the season being traded. But who knows, anything can happen but patience and sticking to the Shanaplan that was laid out when Shanahan started the Maple Leafs on this path is the key to taking the next step in the Maple Leafs progression. The core is still young and growing, waiting until the off season to see how this year pans out and what may come available in the summer is crucial in the sustained success of the Maple Leafs moving into years four and five and after of the Shanaplan.