Will the Hawks and Leafs Actually Pick Up the Phone?

A Guest Post by:  Ryan Fancey

It may not have been the season Leafs fans wished for, but overall the NHL presented one of its best seasons/playoffs to date, unfortunately ended by the most awkward Stanley Cup winning goal in history.

The generic sentence for me to write right now would be “Now that the Hawks are finished, let the trade talks begin to swirl surrounding Chicago and Toronto.”

However, Leafs fans have been hot on that bandwagon for weeks, months even. It’s nothing new to discuss Leafs/Hawks scenarios. But is it overplayed? Yes.

Burke has blatantly expressed interest in bailing teams out of cap issues, and the Hawks are now looking at 14 players signed for 57 million dollars next season. Not to mention Toews’ extra 1.3 million dollar Conn Smythe bonus tacked on for good measure. That’s a teammates’ salary out the window right there. But where are the Leafs getting the pieces to bail out the Blackhawks?

Since the Hawks will have to avoid salary like the plague, they will be looking for one thing primarily; draft picks. What else? Prospects who don’t command major NHL salary.

The Leafs are weak in both areas relative to a lot of other clubs from around the NHL, so envisioning a trade between the Leafs and Hawks falls apart quite quickly.

Why would the Hawks trade Kris Versteeg to the Leafs for zilch when the Los Angeles Kings, for example, have prospects out the wazoo? Why would they send Patrick Sharp our way when 28 other teams are working on packages that easily outmatch the Leafs?

Yes, I’ve heard all of the rumors about the Leafs and Jackets being the prime suitors for Patrick Sharp in recent days. But it’s only for another team to enter the equation with more to offer and both go away in a second.

Instead of dealing directly with the Hawks, it’s more likely that Burke will take a gander at Chicago’s pending free agents, who they surely won’t be re-signing. Paying Ben Eager more than a million dollars to play fourth line minutes isn’t really an option for Chicago. Eager is still hard as nails though, and somewhat psychotic (in a good way).

The Leafs could step in and nab a decent checker who can chip in, but likely on a one or two year deal since they’ll want that money down the road. Adam Burish seemed like a good target to me, but that idea has soured big time since his comments about Pronger after the Cup was won. Classless. Especially from a guy who hasn’t capped 9 points in one season.

It seems like we say this every year, but the Leafs spending year is next summer when 6 million is wiped from the books with Giguere’s expiring contract. Unless they pull a miracle in cap management and sign Ilya Kovalchuk, another scorer may still be a year away.

Burke would like to target teams in cap trouble, like the Hawks, but the stars simply don’t line up. The Buds can’t take back a player like Brian Campbell, since they’re already up to their ears in defencemen. And players like Sharp and Versteeg will be sought after by a number of teams, a lot of which can actually offer up something worthwhile.

If Toronto are going to pull a deal, it will likely be with another club besides the Blackhawks. Obviously I could be wrong, I didn’t expect Burke to land Phaneuf for hockey tape in January, but I really don’t know what the Hawks could see in the Leafs as trading partners.

Truthfully, outside of a Kaberle trade, which could escalate in to a blockbuster (that won’t include Chicago), the Leafs will likely only pull the trigger on one more deal. The chances of the Hawks moving players with a team bare of draft picks like the Leafs doesn’t really add up.

Though that doesn’t mean hope is lost. There’s still 28 other clubs Burke can deal with.

Email maplestirup@gmail.com
Ryan Fancey


  • http://battleofontario.blogspot.com The Muppet

    True. The Leafs have very little to offer in the way of draft picks. Unless it’s 3rd and 4th rounders Chicago is gagging for?! So Toronto won’t have cards to play in a draft pick game. Everyone can agree on that.

    I disagree completely about the prospects though. Toronto is currently ranked 6th in the NHL by prospect magazine as far as organizational rankings. Toronto have their fair share of prospective talent is what we should take away from that, whether you believe we’re 6th or 11th or whatever.

    So why do we see the Leafs as empty as far as talent Chicago might want when in a breath you can mention Gunnarson, Kadri, Bozak, Stalberg, Hanson, DiDomenico, Aulie, Blacker, Ryan, Champagne, Mitchel, Caputi and Schenn? Hell, throw Gustavsson in there too if you like, he’s a sophomore but he’s still a prospect for trading purposes.

    While I would probably shed tears if Toronto traded Nazem Kadri, if doing so makes sense and makes the team better you make the trade. I would love to see Schenn grow into Phaneuf’s role on the team in the next 4-5 years, but if trading him means Toronto have a more balanced team and it helps us be more competitive than why the hell not?

    I’d say don’t discount anything or any player. Burke has proven in the past he does not get personally attached to his hockey players. He’ll move and trade or release anybody if it makes organizational sense. Remember a few years ago when Toronto could have had Pronger for Kaberle and Alex Steen? Rest assured that if a deal remotely close to that comes knocking Burke will be signing fax papers.

    Lets get it on!

    • http://maplestirup.com Ryan F

      That ranking includes Bozak, Stalberg, Hanson and Gunnarsson who are all actual NHLers for the Leafs now, but I know what you mean. Dido, Blacker, Ryan etc are good, but there are teams out there with much better prospects. Trading Nazem Kadri for a player like Sharp is downright insanity. Champagne has re-entered the NHL draft this year, so he isn’t a Leaf anymore anyway.

      But I do agree that Burke can pull the big deal no doubt, and it will get done. Just not with Chicago I don’t think.

      Either way, it’s going to be a very interesting/important off-season that’s for sure.

  • haha

    Sharp’s a 6 mill player making 4.