As the NHL trade deadline nears, we all knew that the Brian Burke led Toronto Maple Leafs would be an interesting team to watch.
I think it is safe to say that interest got ratcheted up just a little more this afternoon.
Never one to mince words, the Leafs GM appeared on the Bill Watters radio show today and all but sealed the fate of Nik Antropov when he announced that he would not be offering a contract extension to the Kazakh forward at year’s end.
Once a speculated player who could have been moved, Antropov now appears to be all but on his way out of Toronto in the next few weeks, as Burke said he would try and get a deal done with another team on or before the deadline.
While one may argue this isn’t the best bargaining chip for Burke to use in attempting to move the former first round pick, Leafs management are hoping that at least some sort of finality will help Antropov focus solely on hockey, and let whatever happens, happen.
Antropov, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, has been rumoured throughout the year to be a player of interest for a couple of teams. While he hit a wall earlier this year and went through a lengthy scoring drought, it’s hard to imagine the 6’6” power forward wouldn’t be welcomed on any teams powerplay.
Another player who will certainly be of interest to teams come March 4th will be Dominic Moore.
Like Antropov, Moore is an impending free agent who is making a paltry $900,000, surely a tag that will go up at least a bit should he hit the July free agent market.
Moore, a waiver wire pick up for the Leafs last season, has been nothing short of spectacular during his time with the team. Brought into the Leafs as a defensive specialist and penalty killer, Moore has been all that and more for Toronto during his time here, blocking shots, making plays, and scoring goals for the club. He is even someone Ron Wilson pointed to as having all the qualities of a player who could be named captain of this team
So the questions for Burke now begin? Trade him? Sign him?
My logic says to re-sign him. He is a twenty-eight year old, Ontario born centre who loves playing for his childhood favourite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has done everything that has been asked of him during his time with the team, and no one would argue if you said he has done far more.
At a young age, and a cheap price tag, Moore is someone I would keep around, as a solid bottom six guy with character to spare.
That’s not to say there won’t be offers. Similar to a situation the Leafs may face with Ian White come this March. Is he more valuable to the team through trade, or by sticking around?
White, you remember, was banished to the press box during the pre season and couldn’t make this team out of training camp. As a player who had played in all 82 games the season before, the development clearly frustrated White, who openly questioned why he wasn’t on the ice with his teammates.
However, once he got into the lineup, he was cast in the unfamiliar role of forward. Injuries had forced Leafs coach Ron Wilson to play White on the wing.
He responded with a goal, and was arguably the teams best player that night.
Since then, White has shuffled himself back and forth from the back end to the forward slot, with little to no difficulty. His goal totals are already at career high levels, and his points should join him there if he continues at the pace he has been playing at. The question then comes, is he worth keeping around, or is now the time to deal?
There is no question the Leafs have tried to move White before, unsuccessfully. With a career year set to go on the books, is now the time to sell high for Toronto? Or should they hold onto their investments a little longer and see where it takes them?
Oh, to be inside the mind of one Brian Burke.