We all love trade rumours. Or, at least I assume we do. Outside of watching an actual game, and after an actual trade, a trade rumour is just about the best thing to talk about hockey-wise. It lets you engage in a little fantasy while also acting as your team’s pseudo-GM. I am sure there are some people who don’t dig trade rumours, just as there are surely people out there who hate kittens, babies or Vince Vaughn.
But while trade rumours are fun speculation, they can also be incredibly frustrating.
This is because when you cheer for the Leafs, you expect the organization to let you down. The house always wins, Michael Buble will remain inexplicably popular, and the Leafs will make terrible managerial decisions. Like Daves, these are the things I know I know.
Why I am Scared
What scares me about the Leafs right now is that the rumours that are most prominent are objectively terrible moves, and as such, the Leafs are bound to make them happen.
It’s been ten years and one playoff series, so compounding the tendency of the organization to make short sighted trades that sacrifice the future for a mediocre present is the fact that it’s highly unlikely anyone in charge of the team wants to extend it to fifteen years and take a patient approach to team building. Since the team is not going to bottom-out and go for a McDavid, I am just waiting for them to announce that they have traded Nazem Kadri to the Devils for Jaromir Jagr.
Obviously, that’s a joke, but you get my point.
There are two players the Leafs are rumoured to be after and feel free to disagree with me, but I would go so far as to say that even entering into preliminary trade talks about these two guys should be a fireable offense.
We are talking about Joe Thornton and Eric Staal.
These are two players who you should try to acquire if you think your team is on the cusp of being a contender. But the Leafs? If they add one of these two players, they are still a team that would be lucky to get to the second round. That’s not an insult. The team is young and has great pieces to build around. Kessel is still on the right side of 30, JVR, Kadri, Rielly, Percy, Gardiner, Bernier, Nylander etc. The list of young talent on this team is as long and as strong as it has ever been in my lifetime.
So don’t mess with it.
If you have to, move a couple assets for a number one centre. It is logical. Just get one who’s best decade of hockey wasn’t the 2000s. The Leafs absolutely, no questions asked, have to get a player who can be a top line centre, but he has to have his best years ahead of him, not in the past, otherwise the team is just repeating the same error it’s made virtually every season since the mid-198os.
Trading for Joe Thornton or Eric Staal would be expensive and counter-productive. Sure, the team would immediately be better, but for how long? And how much? The answer to both questions is not enough. Whether we are talking salary cap, actual dollars, age, health, or potential, Thornton and Staal represent losing propositions no matter how you analyze it.
I would not trade Kadri straight up for Eric Staal and I would not trade him for Thornton either. Not in a house, not with a mouse. Not with Lil Wayne on a plane, or Bill Nye in the sky. To me, these are total non-starters. These are aged players who will just be the next in a long line of Owen Nolans.
Think for a second how bad the Leafs were when they first got Phil Kessel. Now, imagine they were worse. Today, the Leafs would have Taylor Hall and Ryan Strome if they never made that trade. I love Phil Kessel, but the attitude that brought him here is going to end up compounding the stupidity to try to avoid wasting his prime. Excuse me if I feel that every day Dave Nonis remains GM of this team is another day closer to Joe Thornton and his love for pagers, Pearl Jam and dial-up internet.
I don’t want that.
I personally guarantee you that Nazem Kadri will score more points between now and the rest of either of Staal or Thornton’s career than they will. And he wouldn’t even get the trade done.
It’s unquestionably the wrong move at the wrong time, so I expect the Leafs to immediately announce that they have traded Rielly, Nylander, Kadri and Gardiner to the Sharks for Thornton. Then turn around and announce that they have also traded JVR, Percy and two firsts to the Hurricanes for Staal.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.