The Toronto Maple Leafs had been dealing with many different organizational issues for many years. They couldn’t win on the ice and their drafting record was abysmal at best. It led to many tough years for the proud franchise and its fans, as many hoped the Leafs would find a way to break the slump.
It finally looks like that is happening. Helmed by Brendan Shanahan, the former superstar has organized his front office and coaching staff to include names like Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello. It’s early on in their respective tenures with the Leafs, but they have already made smart moves with player personnel and drafting and acquiring young talent.
Because the Maple Leafs are in rebuilding mode, fans can expect some of the current players on the roster to be shipped out at the trade deadline, which will fall on February 29th. These roster players will hopefully fetch some draft picks or young prospects that will one day help the franchise.
Roman Polak, Defenseman
The bruising Czech defenseman was originally acquired by the Maple Leafs under the tenure of former general manager Dave Nonis. The trade saw veteran defender Carl Gunnarsson and a fourth round pick going the other way. Polak has been a solid, if unspectacular addition to the back end for the Buds.
He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015-16 season, which will make him an enticing rental for a team gearing up for the playoffs. He’s not the type of player to give you a ton of points, but Polak plays a tough style and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. He has nine assists in 37 games so far this season, while also collecting 40 penalty minutes and plus rating of 13.
The former sixth round pick would be a great addition as a bottom pairing defenseman who could play hard and give you between 12 and 16 minutes a night.
Michael Grabner, Forward
The Maple Leafs caught many people off-guard when they made the training camp trade for the speedy Grabner. They sent Taylor Beck, Carter Verhaeghe, Matt Finn and Tom Nilsson, as well as goaltender Christopher Gibson to the Islanders in return.
Granber has a year left on his deal and is currently making and even three million dollars. The speedster has been a welcome addition to the Leafs forward corps and has excelled in many areas of the ice including the penalty kill. The former first round pick has six goals and five assists for 11 points in 37 games this season for the Blue and White.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 28, 2015
Grabner would bring a host good skills to a team on the verge of the playoffs. His speed is his biggest asset, and when used correctly on the penalty kill, he forces the opposition to make mistakes and then generates chances for himself or his linemates. He’s versatile enough to play in any situation and is usually good to chip in a few points here and there, which would be an excellent asset when the playoffs begin.
P.A. Parenteau, Forward
The much maligned forward was utilized poorly during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. After a falling out with coach Michel Therrien, he was put in the dog house and was unable to claw his way out. The Habs decided to buy out his contract, which made the former ninth round pick a free agent.
Mike Babcock recruited the forward, who eventually signed a deal for one year and $1.5 million. Having Parenteau gives the Leafs some roster flexibility, as he is serving as a buffer while the organizations younger prospects develop. Spending time with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk has helped Parenteau to a great season thus far.
Last year with Montreal, the often scratched Parenteau only had eight goals and 22 points in 56 games. This year with the Maple Leafs he already has 11 goals and 21 points in only 39 games. Having a cheap contract and decently producing has made his short tenure with the Maple Leafs a win so far.
If the Buds decide to trade him, he has good value and should be able to mesh with a playoff team and its core as they prepare to make a deep run.
There are other names to keep an eye on as well. James Reimer may see his time as a Leaf end. The same could go for Joffrey Lupul or Tyler Bozak. On the flip side, nothing at all could happen. The Blue and White are still very much in rebuilding mode. If they see a deal that could benefit them in the future, expect them to pull the trigger.
My name is Anthony Fusco. Through school, I completed a joint degree involving an Honours B.A. in Journalism from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Videography and Broadcasting degree through Conestoga College.
I currently work for the University of Toronto as a Varsity Sports Announcer and for the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of their game presentation squad.
I’m also the play by play voice of the Kelowna Falcons, a baseball team located in British Columbia.
My goal is to one day be a hockey broadcaster.