Taveres To Toronto – Are The Planets Aligning?

Courtesy of Leon B Switzer - TotalPhoto (Flickr)

Courtesy of Leon B Switzer - TotalPhoto (Flickr)

Christopher Ralph – THW columnist for the Toronto Maple Leafs

After returning from the beautiful Mayan Riviera and having evaded the notorious swine flu, even with the exciting and classic playoff races taking place, why am I not surprised to see Brian Burke’s mug stealing media limelight.

CBC Sports is reporting the Leafs may actually have a legitimate shot at landing the coveted elite forward prospectJohn Tavares. I had touched on the subject of Burke relentlessly pursuing the rights to obtain Tavares in a previous article, Shots From The Slot.

If you have been living in a secluded bunker of some sort hiding from pending pandemics and have no idea who Tavares is, read this bio written by fellow THW columnist, Mike DiFranco. You can also get up-to-date Tavares stats along with a brief description of what he brings to the table and NHL player comparisions by checking out my latest mock draft on my blog (he is ranked #1 overall currently).

On Hockey Night in Canada this past Saturday Night, Pierre Lebrun stated:

“In the last couple of weeks there have been rumblings coming out of Long Island … and suddenly it’s not a sure bet, according to these rumblings, that [GM] Garth Snow will take John Tavares as we’ve been led to believe all along.” If that were to happen, he continued, “I’m told the Lightning would immediately go to Toronto’s table and say ‘Alright, Brian, we’re open for business. We want [veteran defenceman Tomas] Kaberle and Luke Schenn.”

T.O. Sports magazine recently published a top ten list of why Tavares should be a Leaf.

Let’s then take a look at several scenarios, if all the dominoes stack up as Burke hopes, in which Tavares might fall in to the Leaf’s lap:

  • Scenario #1:Islanders select potential franchise blueliner Victor Hedman with the 1st overall pick. Lightning GM Brian Lawton consequently cements a deal with Burke and the Leafs for the 2nd overall pick (and thus Tavares) with Schenn and Kaberle part of the package heading to the Sunshine State. This scenario is likely the most plausible as Hedman has the proverbial “potential” to be a once-in-a-generation d-man. I have previously described the already 6’6″ 220lb 18 year old as a Boumeester-Pronger hybrid. The Leafs may have to include the #7 overall pick as well, but it would be nice if Burke could pull a jedi mind trick of some sort on GM Lawton to hold onto that valuable pick.
  • Scenario #2:Isles’ GM and scouting staff are actually coveting Matt Duchene and trade down to 3rd overall with the Avalanche. The Avs then proceed to offer up the 1st overall pick to the Leafs for a lofty sum including the 7th overall selection and Luke Schenn as a basis for the deal. This scenario is less likely in my mind as the Avs likely covet Duchene themselves as he might be the closest player to Joe Sakic they could hope to snag that could help dampen the loss of Burnaby Joe. He has been compared to Sakic and is actually out scoring John Tavares in the OHL playoffs points-wise 26 to 21, although he has played 5 more games thus far.
  • Scenario #3:Burkey takes advantage of the less experienced GM Garth Snow and does a deal straight up between the two franchises for the first overall selection – much to the chagrin of Islander Nation. The return would likely be the 7th overall pick with Schenn along with some other valuable asset(s). Although less likely than the first scenario, this one has a chance to play out in this sort of fashion.
  • Scenario #4:Paint this picture in your mind: Isles GM Snow, Lightning GM Lawton and Burkey swing a menage a trois three-way deal! Sorry if you’ve just eaten. In this mega-transaction: the Isles would drop back one position to the 2nd overall pick and take Hedman and would receive some other an asset such as the Lightning’s 2nd round pick or maybe even the Leafs’ 7th overall pick if Snow can get creative; the Lightning would receive a package with Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle as the centerpieces; and, of course, Tavares would be heading to T.O.

Burke, who states that no player who is property of the Leafs is untouchable, including backbone blueliner Luke Schenn, stated: 

“No player is untradeable,” he said. “Wayne Gretzky got traded.”

This is quite ironic coming from same bold guy who made the following statement earlier in his career about a decade ago:

“I don’t care if we lose every game for the next five years and the team goes broke and moves to Moose Jaw, I will not trade Pavel Bure!”

Then Canucks GM Brian Burke, several weeks before trading Pavel Bure to the Panthers in the late nineties.

In the words of O-Bomber (Barrick Obama), “Let me make this perfectly clear,” – I am not stating the Leafs will end up with Tavares, but simply stating potential happenings that may lead to that transaction taking place.

Please post your comments or fabricated scenarios below on whether or not you think the Leafs have a true shot at landing the Next, Next One.

Christopher Ralph

Christopher Ralph

Managing Editor/Lead Prospect/Draft Analyst at THW
Chris is THW's senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for Chris' regular column "The Next Ones" Prospect Profile series as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphTHW on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com
Christopher Ralph

18 Comments

  1. Pingback: #1 John Tavares – The Hockey Spy’s 2009 Entry Draft Rankings | The Hockey Writers

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  3. TSN has also jumped on the Burke/Leafs/Tavares/Lightning rumour train!
    http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=278582

  4. Christopher Ralph says:

    Sounds like T-Bay have named their price for the 2nd overall pick, if Sportsnet sources are accurate:
    http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2009/05/12/leafs_lightning_trade_talks/?utm_source=Hockey%20Home%20RSS&utm_medium=feed&utm_content=Bolts%20ask%20for%20Schenn%20in%20Leaf%20talks
    Apparently, Burke is talking out of both sides of his mouth, as depending on the source (as Eric mentions above), either everyone on the team is tradeable or then he states Schenn won’t be traded.
    And the plot thickens…

  5. Pingback: JoeBoltsFan » Blog Archive » The Roundup: Deals, Relocation, Dan Boyle & More - Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey

  6. Thanks Super Dave – I think you’ve actually hit the proverbial nail on the head with your analysis. There are some gems in this draft and the top 8 I think will all be very productive NHLers. Outside of that with players like Oliver Ericsson-Larson (OEL – who could go earlier than projected), Ryan Ellis, Dmitri Kuikov amongst others, this is a great draft crop.

  7. Super Dave says:

    Interesting round of scenarios you outline where the Leafs could land Tavares. Considering the spotty trading records of the Isles and Bolts (perhaps the kindest words that can be used to describe them) under the ownership of Wang and Barrie/Koules (respectively), the possibility of the Leafs (or anyone, for that matter) moving up to #1 or #2 isn’t a stretch. Knowing Burke’s track record, I’d expect a move up, but the Leafs do have a chance at drafting some bright youngsters between #3 and #7 (depending on if and when they move up in the draft), with Brayden Schenn, Matt Duchene, Jared Cowen (shredded ACL and all), Evander Kane or Magnus Svensson-Paarvi (easily the funnest name in this year’s draft). One way or another, the Leafs should wind up with a solid prospect.

  8. Steve:
    That might very well be true & if Tavares is the one whom the Isles have claimed all along they have targeted, the Leafs might have no shot.

    On your last point, given a young propsect’s choice of going to Isles Vs Leafs, do you seriously think they’d be in a better situation on Long Island rather than T.O. As bad as the Leafs’ franchise has been run for the on ice product in recent times, they do finally seem to headed in the right direction. Can we honestly say the same about the Islanders? Okposo & Bailey bode well for the future and after this draft they will definitely have some more great assets, but this team has a ton of work to do – even moreso than the Leafs.

  9. Interesting point of view Wayne. As I said in scenario 1 in the article, if Isles in fact do take Hedman, with Lecavelier & Stamkos, you’ve got to think they’s seriously consider trading Tavares.

  10. I hear you Jon. If Burkey could somehow pull in Tavares without giving up Schenn, it would likely be huge win for Leafs.
    As Wayne stated above, the probablility of being able to draft Braydon Schenn (see my latest Mock Draft at )
    with the 7th, it would be great, but maybe not realistic, for the Leafs to hang on somehow to that pick as well. I might even rather have that pick than The Human Eraser – Luke Schenn.

  11. I can’t see the Islanders trading this pick for anything Toronto can possibly offer, and that includes Schenn.

    Tavares has never said he wouldn’t play for the Isles. He has said numerous times now that he will be committed to whatever team drafts him. And why wouldn’t he want to play for the Isles? They’ve been in the playoffs more recently than the Leafs have.

  12. Trading Schenn would be the biggest mistake, we already traded 3 picks to get him last year, so can u imagine him plus kaberla plus another 2nd or 3rd round pick to grab one guy? In all we would have traded 2 first round picks, kaberla, and probably another 2 or 3 lower picks just for this guy, thats ridiculous in my opinion

    Kaberla (or preferably kubina), 1st round pick and Justin Pogge for Taveras is the most I would give up, otherwise just take our pick at 7th and build through free agency

  13. I dont remember seeing anyting about Tavares saying he didnt want to play for the Islanders…In fact, I have read multiple times that he just said he wanted to play in the NHL, didnt matter what team

  14. Very true Leon – “Nobody said it was easy”!

    If Tavares evolves into the superstar he is projected to be, the GM who theoretically did trade the pick that could’ve been him will look terrible and might find himself on the outside looking in of any type of hockey career!

  15. wayne scarlett says:

    They should hang on to the seventh pick and take Brayden Schenn.They can make an RFA offer to Tavares in three years time.JT has stated he does not want to play for the Isles,so he goes puts in 3 years,without pouting and then waits for the Leafs offer.

    I personally believe that Tavares ends up in either Tampa or Colorado anyway.This is after all,the Isles that we talking about.They will take Hedman,since they need Dmen.

  16. I think any GM will have a tough time giving up Tavares for ANY amount period.

  17. Hi Eric: appreciate the comment!
    Again though, if you read the full post until the end, I clarified these are not predictions, bu tscenarios that may take place to allow this to happen.

    Interesting about your take on Burke and his intentions. My quote towards the bottom is straight from CBC where again he said “No player i untradeable” and he said even 99 got traded. Did you also read my last quote just efore he traded Bure?

    Do you have a link to where he stated Schenn would not be traded from Leaf Space?

    I’m definitely not saying he should trade Schenn in any way. I’m actually thinking if the sacrifice is too big, they shouldn’t even attempt to go after Tavares. The 7th overall selection is going to be a top notch player in this great top 8 draft crop.

  18. Erik Haney says:

    First off one huge flaw in your prediction, Burke said and player is up for grabs EXCEPT!!! Luke Schenn he made that point pretty clear in his press conference on Leaf Space. I don’t see him going back on his word, Toronto loves that kid to much, they would crucify Burke the moment he made that trade. As for Thomas Kaberle, well lets not cry over spilled Czechs.

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