It’s an interesting time of year for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nearing the trade deadline, the team sits second last in the NHL with 50 points in 57 games. The only team worse at this current point is the Edmonton Oilers. The Leafs place in the standings is a positive, however, if you consider the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
They are hoping for the first overall pick, but something in the top three wouldn’t go amiss either. Anything would help in the rebuilding effort. Let’s take a closer look at the latest news coming out of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
Nazem Kadri: Stay or Go?
Nazem Kadri has been a bit of a polarizing figure in Toronto. Many fans like his skills and compete level and would like to see him remain a Maple Leaf past this season. Others think that he will never reach his potential and that he should be dealt now for future assets.
Coming into this year, Kadri was given a challenge by Mike Babcock. He was told to become an elite player, to train hard and lead by example, both in the locker room and on the ice. Fresh off a one year deal, Kadri knew that his future was entirely up to him.
Months into the season, it is safe to say that Kadri has defied and exceeded the expectations Babcock set out for him. He has become a legitimately good player and has limited any distractions off the ice. He has 30 points on the season including 11 goals. That may not seem to translate to superstar numbers, but those will potentially come in the future.
— The Hockey Press® (@TheHockeyPress) February 21, 2016
Babcock trusts Kadri. He deploys him in all situations and the former London Knight has responded by becoming one of the most reliable Leafs on the roster. Babcock called and Kadri listened. The only hurdle left to address will be whether or not he fits into the Leafs plans once the rebuild is complete.
From everything we’ve seen this season, I think it would be fair to say that Kadri should have a place with the team going forward.
Trade Deadline Looms Large
Everyone in the hockey world knows that the trade deadline is fast approaching. If you follow the Maple Leafs, you know that possibly the majority of the team will be shipped away in the coming weeks. It’s all part of the grand rebuilding plan that management is undertaking.
Trade the players they can, and in return, acquire picks and prospects that could be used in the future. Many Leafs players have seen their names churn through the rumour mill.
Roman Polak is a big one. The big right-handed shooting defenseman has garnered interest league wide for his ability to play solid grinding minutes. He won’t shy away from the physical side of the game and would be a good addition to a team looking for a depth defenseman for the playoffs.
P.A. Parenteau is another Leaf generating significant interest. Utilized poorly last season with the Montreal Canadiens, Parenteau has rebounded nicely under Babcock. He has put up 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points on the year. He has also earned Babcock’s trust and is used in all situations on the ice.
Shawn Matthias was recently traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth rounder in the 2016 draft as well as Colin Smith, a prospect who was drafted back in 2012. The Leafs now have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, with more expected to come their way.
The #leafs now own 12 picks for the 2016 draft.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 21, 2016
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 21, 2016
Those two are arguably the biggest names who could move, but the list could potentially extend to Tyler Bozak, Michael Grabner, Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik, Joffrey Lupul and James Reimer as well. Make no mistake, the Maple Leafs are working the phones and are looking for the best trade for their club. Expect trade talks to heat up as the deadline moves ever closer.
– Featured image by (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)