With the trade deadline now less than 24 hours away, Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke is trying to swing a last minute deal. There has been a lot of talk regarding Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur, but would it be smart to move him for a puck-moving defenceman?
Burke says that this team is going through a long rebuild, but does claim that he would look at adding a playoff asset.
“If we could reward (the players) and add a piece that would give us a better chance we’re going to do it,” Burke said while talking to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman before Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. “But we’re not changing the blueprint, we haven’t changed the blueprint since I got here.”
Burke has made three major trades since February 29th─Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kaberle have all been shipped out of town. From those three trades, the Leafs have received a total of two first round draft picks, a conditional second round draft pick, a third round draft pick, a conditional fourth round draft pick, two prospects in Jake Gardiner and Joe Colborne, and one asset in Joffrey Lupul.
With so many draft picks and prospects being acquired, might the Maple Leafs consider abandoning that plan for one trade? Maybe a trade for Colorado Avalanche defenceman John-Michael Liles?
Liles, whose asking price is said to be very high, is a solid puck-moving defenceman; something the Maple Leafs don’t have now that Tomas Kaberle is a Boston Bruin. His name has been popping up a lot lately in Toronto trade rumours, and Liles-to-Toronto is a very real possibility.
Would the Maple Leafs look at giving up one of those two first round draft picks for Liles and possibly something else? Well, that other player or draft pick would have to be considerably good. But of course, there are a lot more options than a pick for two players or a pick for a player and another pick. Let’s not go into detail about that, as there are way too many situations.
Clarke MacArthur is a lot more likely to be sent the other way than prospects and draft picks in any trade that might go down.
“We’ve spoken with (MacArthur’s) agent, we’ve agreed that we’re not going to comment on it,” Burke said during his interview with Friedman. “It is the first year he’s had of this magnitude, and the difficulty is fixing a value on a player who might be emerging as a player and might be a one-hit wonder.”
MacArthur has been very impressive this year; his 19 goals, 29 assists and 48 points are all career highs and will all help drive his salary for next season up. Although his production has helped a team that has played marginally well this season, it is more than likely that it will hurt the Leafs during the off-season, assuming that he isn’t traded.
With that being said, if the Leafs cannot get MacArthur signed by the trade deadline, it might be wise to trade him for the puck-moving defenceman they are looking for, and Liles just might be the one.
Liles, 30, has six goals and 35 assists in 63 games. Although that sounds nice, it wouldn’t really be a smart thing to take the team’s leading scorer out of the lineup when you’re only five points back of the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Leafs need all the goal scoring they can get right now, and with a record of 8-2-4 in the month of February, the Maple Leafs’ defence has clearly been doing just fine without a puck mover.
So after all, if the Leafs are going to acquire another defenceman, whether it is Liles or someone else, it might actually be more smart to go against the plan for one trade.
Why? Because if the Leafs are not going to trade MacArthur, who are they going to trade? Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek, Dion Phaneuf, Colby Armstrong, James Reimer, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Keith Aulie are all very unlikely to be moved, and there are no other real impact players on the Leafs’ roster.
For Clarke MacArthur to get moved, the return should be one of a kind. In my mind, anything less would be unacceptable.