It’s February 28, 2011, designated as the Trade Deadline in the NHL. As my luck had it, I was able to schedule a day off and sit home watching coverage, Jay Onrait style.
For the Maple Leafs, it could shape up into a quiet day. Brian Burke started making significant changes to his team almost 3 weeks ago, sending Francois Beauchemin, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kaberle out, and adding picks, prospects and Joffrey Lupul to his cupboard. There are some interesting storylines with Toronto though, as the Leafs has climbed to within 4 points of 8th in the East. Burke has always said his goal is to make the playoffs (though he also said he does not want to get in then be swept in one round). He may be a buyer, looking to shore up his blueline with a puck-mover to replace Kaberle, and possibly in net, given Giguere’s weak groin, Gustavsson’s heart trouble, and Reimer’s recent knock to the head that forced him out of the game yesterday in Atlanta. If Burke decides he is a seller, he will be hearing interesting offers for Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski, players who Burke may feel have peaked in terms of trade value. MacArthur specifically is on a one year deal at only $1.1M, and Burke he’d like to sign him now or else shop him in a deal.
8:45 – Reports are coming that the Leafs no longer have interest in John-Michael Liles of Colorado. It’s likely a combination of Liles’ age (30) not fitting with Burke’s move to youth, as well as the asking price being too high. Also, though no deal is done for MacArthur, the word is that he’ll likely end up not being moved, and re-signing in Toronto. That would kill a deal rumored last night that would have seen MacArthur in Nashville with smallish, offensive-minded defense prospect Ryan Ellis and big contract JP Dumont going to Toronto.
9:30 – Much discussion about the Leafs’ depth and potential moves on TSN. Craig MacTavish, Ray Ferraro and Pierre Maguire all agree that MacArthur is in a good situation with the Leafs, and by chasing a bigger deal as a free agent, he may land himself in a situation elsewhere where he may not have the success he’s had this year. On Reimer’s injury, he’s reported to have pulled himself from the game yesterday, and experiencing a headache and sore neck this morning.
10:20 – Rogers Sportsnet now reporting that things have changed and Burke is “not optimistic” MacArthur will be signed, re-igniting talk he may be moved to a Western Conference team. Also, Gustavsson will be recalled from the Marlies. That will likely alleviate the need for any goaltending move, as he’s played well in the AHL despite a recent heart procedure.
10:35 – Radek Dvorak sent from FLA to ATL for Nick Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller. ATL is a team the Leafs will battle for that final spot. It gives ATL a veteran PK guy who can contribute some offence and size.
Howard Berger of Sportsnet radio tweeting that Nazem Kadri, as well as the recently acquired first round draft picks could be in play from Toronto if the deal is for a true first line centre.
Also being reported, Brad Richards, a player the Leafs are rumored to be interested in, will only waive NTC for NY Rangers, but a deal is unlikely.
Burke now saying he has received offers for MacArthur, but nothing he could accept. He suspects MacArthur will remain a Leaf.
2:30 – A very quiet day overall, mostly minor deals being made until the biggest deal of the day so far. The LA Kings acquire Dustin Penner from Edmonton for Colten Teubert, a first round pick in 2011, and a conditional pick in 2012. The effect to the Leafs is nil except that Penner was targeted by a number of Leaf fans as a player they’d want in Blue & White.
2:50 – Lots of talk on TSN about teams that need a top-line center, and how Joe Nieuwendyk’s hands are tied to a large extent by Brad Richards’ no-trade clause. The Maple Leafs may not be able to out-bid others in terms of offers, but it’s likely Brian Burke is one of those making as big a pitch as he can.
3:00 – Burke makes a minor move sending F John Mitchell to the NY Rangers. Mitchell got significant opportunity to show he could take one of the center spots on a Leaf team thin at that position, but never could step up. The former 5th round pick from 2003 had 12 goals and 29 points in his first 76 games in 2008-09, but only 8 goals and 26 points in 83 games since. The Leafs get back a 7th round draft pick in 2012.
With New Jersey surging, they send Jason Arnott to Washington for David Steckel. Jersey has been climbing the standings and could also challenge for the 8th spot. It will be interesting to see if Steckel will help them more than Arnott. He’s a good faceoff man, so it will be interesting to see if that can help the Devils get closer to the playoffs.
3:15 – Dallas confirms Brad Richards will not be moved.
After getting Dvorak, Atlanta sends Fred Modin to Calgary for a 7th round pick. Modin has been injury prone, but he does contribute some offense.
3:30 – Burke is at the podium for his news conference. The day occurred much as he expected, and he confirmed the Mitchell deal is the only transaction the Leafs had made. Of course, Burke had made a number of transactions early, sending out 3 veterans and getting assets back, and so was less inclined to be busy today. Now that the deadline has passed, I’ll have a more complete summary and analysis of Brian Burke’s re-shaping of the Maple Leaf franchise.