‘Untouchable’ is a word that has been thrown around the NHL a lot especially in relation to those who play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Without trying to crush the hearts of little boys and girls who adore their favourite Leaf player, it’s time to speak of the truth. That is, of course, that there isn’t one player on the Maple Leafs’ current roster that is safe from being traded.
A player has to be of elite talent to garner such a title and it’s not hard to see that there aren’t any players on the Leafs’ roster you could say that about.
Let’s start off with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, who frequently found themselves near the top of the NHL in scoring last season. Kessel maintained his position by finishing sixth, while Lupul dropped significantly due to injury, but did manage to finish with 67 points in 66 games. What people must realize, though, is those point totals don’t automatically make them top players in this league. They both still have plenty of growing to do before reaching the 100-point level, which isn’t entirely expected of them.
If you still think they should be considered untouchable, let’s consider this. The Anaheim Ducks offer the Maple Leafs a package that includes Bobby Ryan or Ryan Getzlaf for either Kessel or Lupul. Now Leaf fans, who would you rather have on your team? Keep in mind that you have been calling for one of these two for years. As well, both would provide size, compete and an improved two-way game to the Leafs’ top-six.
You might be saying “well, the Leafs already added size to their top six by trading for James van Riemsdyk.” That’s true, but even he isn’t safe.
Some might say Burke had to settle for JvR after failing to acquire Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a player who Burke claims the Leafs were in on.
Well, we were in on that trade. It’s certainly not tampering to talk about a player that has just moved. We were in on that trade and obviously the price that he fetched was higher than the one that this team was willing pay, so good for both teams. Like I say, it’s June 23rd.
Van Riemsdyk is certainly a talented player, but is he talented enough to be untouchable? No.
Much of the hype that surrounds van Riemsdyk stems from his days in the United States Development Program and the time he spent at the University of New Hampshire. What many people don’t realize is that he hasn’t been able to translate his offensive success into the NHL; van Riemsdyk has 99 points in 196 regular season games. He has show plenty of potential, but that’s not enough to keep him on the Leafs regardless of the trade offer.
Then there are Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski. Not many will argue for Bozak to be labelled as untouchable, but some will claim that Grabovski shouldn’t go anywhere.
First let’s take a look at those who come with a cap hit comparable to Grabovski’s $5.5 million. They include Shawn Horcoff, Jason Pominville, Tomas Plekanec and Ryan Kesler, non of whom are elite level talent.
As for Grabovski’s statistics, you will see he hasn’t eclipsed the 60-point mark once in his career. If Kessel nor Lupul should be considered untouchable with 82 and 67 points respectively, why should a second line centre who hasn’t been able to reach those numbers fall into that category?
Simply, it shouldn’t. Just like goalie James Reimer, who, for some reason, people are still banking on to become the next Patrick Roy. Don’t get me wrong, I still expect Reimer to put up the numbers of a consistent starting goaltender, but in no way should anyone rely on a 24-year-old just trying to make his way in the NHL to become a future Hall-of-Famer.
Given his potential, young age and past NHL performance, there is no doubt that Reimer could fetch a nice return. That’s not to say he should be used as trade bait either, but the Leafs shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on such a deal if the right one were to come along.
Here’s the issue with Reimer being considered untouchable: he has played in 71 games with a career 2.83 goals against average. Even though he had a strong rookie season (in which he made just 37 appearances by the way), Reimer isn’t a proven NHL goalie; he has yet to maintain strong numbers over a full NHL season.
On defence are Dion Phaneuf and Jake Gardiner.
Phaneuf, 27, is no longer the type of defenceman he used to be. We still see the occasional big hit and bomb from the blue line, but not as often as we did while he was a member of the Calgary Flames.
Gardiner, 22, is in the same position Reimer was one year ago. After a very good rookie season for which he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team, Gardiner is being heralded as the “next great Leaf” even though he hasn’t even played in 100 NHL games.
What ‘untouchable’ really comes down to is numbers and it’s not hard to see that the Leafs don’t have any players on their roster who posses the statistics needed to be considered safe from trade.
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29 thoughts on “No Toronto Maple Leafs Player Should be ‘Untouchable’”
Kessel should absolutely be considered tradebait. His value his through the roof. For American teams trying to attract American fans, the highest scoring American sniper has to be worth something.
You don’t just trade him for parts. If you trade an elite player you get one back. If the Leafs can package Kessel, Grabovski and some prospects together to get Getzlaf and Perry, do it.
Ok I thought this article is very poorly written. I sorry Lukas but I think you need to study the game of hockey and the players that are in the league. I’ll get back to you shortly. @Joe Barba, ok buddy you are the exact reason why people make fun of Leaf fans. You don’t seem to have any clue about the game of hockey and what it takes to build a team! First off moron it’s not that Burke didn’t want Jordan Stall. Jordan Stall didn’t want to come here! He wanted to go to Carolina and play with his older brother. Ok? Get it? Good! Second why the heck would burke trade a young dynamic player who can put up 30 goals at will and is a point a game player. By the way he is doing all of this without a legit top line center. Nuff said, now go and crawl back in whatever hole you came out of idiot! Now Lukas, how exactly is Kessel not an elite player but Bobby Ryan is? 1. Kessel has out scored and out pointed Ryan since they have been in the league! 2. Ryan has played with players such as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf while Kessel has played with Lupul and Boozo! 3. Kessel is younger, quicker and has a better shot. You also don’t know the kind of numbers he could put up with a legit center. They only way Kessel wouldn’t be untouchable is if you trade him and get a player like Malkin. That would never happen so therefore he is as untouchable as he can get! Jake Gardiner is also untouchable. The objective for this Leaf team is to rebuild, so why would you trade a 20 year old defenceman that is being considered as one of the top young offensive D-Men in the league? Why do you think everyone is asking for him? These reasons and lots more that I don’t really feel like writing here are why you need to do a bit more research before you write an article. Also you mentioned at the start of the article that “point totals” don’t make Kessel and Lupul elite players. Then the last sentence of the article you said “What ‘untouchable’ really comes down to is numbers” You need to make up your mind. Also you mentioned that 100 points will make you an elite player but if you watch the league you would know that there are only a hand full of players capable of putting up 100 point seasons year in and year out. Malkin was the only player last season to put up 100 points. In-fact in the last 5 seasons there have been only 6 players that put up 100 points, Daniel Sedin, Henrick Sedin, Backstrom, Ovechkin and Crosby. Are you saying that those are the only elite level players in the league?
I didn’t say Ryan is an elite player.
If the objective is to rebuild, it isn’t showing. IMO, teams going through a true rebuild don’t take years to make trades. That’s what has been happening here, and the pieces are just beginning to fall into place.
As for the point total/numbers statements, I was saying Kessel and Lupul don’t have the numbers to be called untouchable. You misread that.
About the elite, I’m the type of person who isn’t quick to label players as elite. It takes a lot for a player to show me they deserve that title.
The objective is to rebuild! How is it not showing?? teams going through a rebuild don’t take years to make trades??? Ok let’s examine the trades Burke made.
January 31, 2010
To Toronto: Keith Aulie, Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom
To Calgary: Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan, Ian White
Ok how does this not show rebuilding???? He got rid of a bunch of bums and got back Aulie who is a young D. which he turned into Carter Ashton (Young forward), Phaneuf who at the time was 25 years of age. (If anyone says that he shouldn’t have made this trade, they need their head checked)!
#2 – Francois Beauchemin to ANA for Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul, and a 2013 4th round pick
I DON’T THINK I NEED TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS DEAL!! There isn’t a GM in the league that wouldn’t pull this deal! I don’t care if you are rebuilding or going for the cup!!!! Again this helps big time with the rebuilding process cause you are getting a young D-Men and a draft pick!
#4 – Lebda, Slaney, and a 4th to NSH for Lombardi and Franson – Again a veteran D-Men for a young player in Franson! Lombardi is a wash.
#5 D Tomas Kaberle traded to BOS in exchange for F Joe Colborne, 2011 first-round pick and conditional 2012 second-round pick. – Again a rebuilding trade!
#6 He got rid of Jason Blake and Toskala’s contract – Huge help towards the rebuild
#7 The Phil Kessel trade he did trade away 2 first round picks and a second but he got those back in the Kaberle trade and Gardiner, Colbourne were also first rd picks. Again he got back a 22 year old skilled forward that is a legit goal scorer in this league. That is something that doesn’t grow on trees.
So please explain how any of these trades don’t show you that the team is rebuilding???? If you need more of a shock please see below the team that Burke got when he first came on board!!
Mark Bel Joffrey Lupul
Boyd Devereaux Matt Frattin
Robbie Earl Nikolai Kulemin
Niklas Hagman Clarke MacArthur
Ryan Hollweg James VanRymsdyke
Nikoali Kulemin Marcel mueller
Jamal Mayers Ryan Hamilton
Kris Newbury Greg Mckegg
Mark Bell Mikhail Grabovski
Boyd Devereaux Tyler Bozak
Mikhail Grabovski Nazim Kadri
Ryan Hollweg Joel Colbourne
Dominic Moore Tim Connolly
Kris Newbury Jay Mclement
Matt Stajan David Steckel
Jason Blake Phil Kessel
Boyd Devereaux Mike Brown
Niklas Hagman Jerry D’Amigo
Nikolai Kulemin Carter Aston
JamalMayers Kris Newbury
Don’t even want to list the players! lol Dion Phaneuf
How do you not see the rebuild??? Like I said a little research and you might change your opinion. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but it doesn’t mean it’ll make sense.
Ok well then you have really really really high expectations for elite players. Just out of curiosity who in the league today do you consider as an “elite” player?
I’m talking a full-blown, strip everything down, stockpile draft picks type rebuild.
Ok well not every team does it that way. Only Edmonton, Pittsburgh have done a rebuild to that extent. The point is that they are rebuilding and trading away your young talented players is not the best way to turn your fortunes around. Therefore they should and are considered untouchables.
Also I think this article is contradicting your other article “Maple Leafs Have Enough Talent in Top-Six to Reach the Playoffs”.
How so? Saying they shouldn’t be traded and saying they’re untouchable are two different things.
I see untouchable as being non-starters, absolutely no chance a deal gets done no matter what. Saying they shouldn’t be traded means they shouldn’t be traded unless the right deal comes along. A lot of the players in this article shouldn’t be traded, and a lot of them in that article shouldn’t be traded either.
Ok I thought this article is very poorly written. I sorry Lukas but I think you need to study the game of hockey and the players that are in the league. I’ll get back to you shortly. @Joe Barba, ok buddy you are the exact reason why people make fun of Leaf fans. You don’t seem to have any clue about the game of hockey and what it takes to build a team! First off moron it’s not that Burke didn’t want Jordan Stall. Jordan Stall didn’t want to come here! He wanted to go to Carolina and play with his older brother. Ok? Get it? Good! Second why the heck would burke trade a young dynamic player who can put up 30 goals at will and is a point a game player. By the way he is doing all of this without a legit top line center. Nuff said, now go and crawl back in whatever hole you came out of idiot! Now Lukas, how exactly is Kessel not an elite player but Bobby Ryan is? 1. Kessel has out scored and out pointed Ryan since they have been in the league! 2. Ryan has played with players such as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf while Kessel has played with Lupul and Boozo! 3. Kessel is younger, quicker and has a better shot. You also don’t know the kind of numbers he could put up with a legit center. They only way Kessel would be untouchable is if you trade him and get a player like Malkin. That would never happen so therefore he is as untouchable as he can get! Jake Gardiner is also untouchable. The objective for this Leaf team is to rebuild, so why would you trade a 20 year old defenceman that is being considered as one of the top young offensive D-Men in the league? Why do you think everyone is asking for him? These reasons and lots more that I don’t really feel like writing here are why you need to do a bit more research before you write an article. Also you mentioned at the start of the article that “point totals” don’t make Kessel and Lupul elite players. Then the last sentence of the article you said “What ‘untouchable’ really comes down to is numbers” You need to make up your mind. Also you mentioned that 100 points will make you an elite player but if you watch the league you would know that there are only a hand full of players capable of putting up 100 point seasons year in and year out. Malkin was the only player last season to put up 100 points. In-fact in the last 5 seasons there have been only 6 players that put up 100 points, Daniel Sedin, Henrick Sedin, Backstrom, Ovechkin and Crosby. Are you saying that those are the only elite level players in the league?
Burke’s going to be fired by Rogers/Bell next year anyway once he proves that his trading is garbage and because he refused to try harder to get better players like Jordan Staal because he refuses to give up fan favorites like Kessel. Leafs will be one of the worst teams in the NHL again this season guaranteed. Watch them once again win some of the beginning of the season games but lose them all at the end when the other teams really start trying.
Kessel for Staal would’ve been a bad deal, IMO. And I don’t think it’s that Burke didn’t try hard enough, but that the asking price was simply too high.
To some extent I do agree with you, any is truly avialable for the right price, that goes with any player on any team. If you are making your team better, for both now and the future, why wouldn’t you take an offer from an over paying team?
But if we are to trade Kessel for one of our two needs of center or goalie, we are making just a big of a hole on the right wing which no one on our team can fill at this moment. So what would be the point? In Kessel we have what could pretty much be called a guaranteed 30+ goalie if you go by his track record, and at a young age, he could still continue to be a top scorer in this league, which I’m sure Burke saw in him.
The worst thing in my mind that the Leafs could do at this time is sell it’s youth off for a proven quantity that is older, and possibly past his prime. The Leafs have done this time and time again, and Burke is finally putting an end to this trend, even though having a big name player on our team would be great, it would cost us far to much, and it is time to let the kids develop and potential become that skilled player that we require.
I say Burke should just stick to his guns, see what he has come training camp, and if/when our kids are ready to make a step up to the next level, make room for them. Our biggest problem isn’t our top 6 forwards, it’s our bottom 6 filled with players who don’t play shut down hockey, which puts more pressure on the goaltender to perform and make more crucial saves during a game, which will have most goalies in this league fall face first. Upon having a more structured defensive system which Carlyle will, we will have less shots on net giving us a better chance to win, and I am not worried about our top 6 having the ability to put up the points to sneak a win in.
Then again, didn’t acquiring JvR open a hole on the back-end?
Don’t try to compare the hole Kessel would leave at wing to the hole Schenn has left at defense. Schenn was seriously below par last year and I can easily make a defensive unit that doesn’t include him without much of a dropoff in performance.
Hole on the back end? We have more than enough D. Franson, Gardiner, Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Komisarek, Liles, and on the outskirts Holzer & Fraser
Did you research this before you wrote it?
My point was that the hole Kessel would leave on the wing (one almost impossible to fill) and the hole Schenn has left on defense (so small people are talking about him being gone as addition by subtraction, in that him not being there alone makes the defensive unit better) are not even close. Not a difficult one to grasp.
I agree, my response was to Lukas, your points are valid.
To be honest I would rather have kessel than bobby Ryan or Ryan getzlaf and this is coming from a die hard leafs fan. Kessel’s speed and dynamic shot brings more to the table. Based on Getzlafs drop off year, Bobby Ryan being a 30 goal scorer I would give Kessel the bigger thumbs up due to his ability to pot 37 goals while missing Lupul for nearly 20 games and having Bozak (a 3rd line center) as his only consistent line mate all year. I agree with some of your article but to say Kessel isn’t an untouchable, than that is crazy
A Twitter follower of mine said to me today that it would be wrong for the Leafs to trade Kessel for Ryan straight up, and I agree.
I don’t expect Kessel to be moved; I think it’s very difficult to find the right deal. Once he’s in his contract year, I’m sure it’ll be very possible.
So let me get this straight. You would rather have a revolving door, with players being traded just for the sake of trading them? If you don’t appreciate what a player like Kessel brings to the team then what are you expecting to get for him then? What does Kessel need to do to become untouchable in your view? What message would it send to the rest of the team if a guy like Kessel became trade bait? Eventually, you need show some faith in a few players until they prove they are not deserving of that trust. That’s why coaches get fired long before teams get dismantled.
Just to remind you: Kessel finished with 82 points last year, good for sixth in the league and above a lot of forwards considered elite and untouchable, and had his fourth straight thirty-goal season. What more do you expect from the guy?
I don’t expect much more, but that doesn’t make him untouchable.
Then it should. We are not going to find an upgrade to Kessel without shattering the bank beyond all hope of repair because Kessel is, say it with me, just that good. Like Kyle below me says, deal Kessel for Getzlaf and suddenly there’s a big ugly hole at right wing.
Kessel is untouchable…… Why??? It would mean Burke made a mistake by trading for him, and considering how much he gave up to attain him, Burke is far too proud to take any less than he dealt. And lets face it, how many GMs would give up what Burke did?????
I’d agree with you on some of the players you mentioned. Grabovski is a fan favourite because he shows up every game. Well worth his salary and you’d be hard pressed to replace him. I don’t think trading away assets has anything to do with whether or not they are invaluable though (although you’d have a hard time convincing me Jake Gardiner shouldn’t be untouchable). In the case of the other players you mentioned, they form the nucleus of a young talented team that has it’s share of budding prospects in the wings. Trading several prospects for a proven player might get them a round or two of playoff hockey but they’d soon be back where they started. I’d rather see a patient rebuild where players are allowed to develop slowly (like Kadri) and aren’t given up on before they can reach their potential. Also grooming players in a system like Detroit does really pays off and is a big reason they are able to keep pace despite injuries.
My biggest thing with labelling players as untouchable is what if the right deal comes along? At that point you can’t really just say “no, this player is too valuable to our team to trade him, even to put him in a trade that would help improve our roster.”
I’m not saying it wouldn’t be difficult to move a lot of these players, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
If the right player were available and there were no prospects or picks going the other way I wouldn’t have a problem. Even Grabovski could be expendable if it meant a big proven center like Ryan or Getzlaf. I think that’s where Burke is having difficulty. Everybody probably wants Gardiner,Kadri or Frattin.
Frattin and Kadri don’t qualify as ‘non-starters’ in trade talks as far as I’m concerned. Neither are top-level prospects, although Kadri has the potential to be a solid second liner.
Asking price for Kadri certainly wouldn’t be low, but still.
I guess it comes down to the teams approach to this ‘rebuild’. The closer they get to being in contention the higher the chances the Leafs make a deal for help that might include just about anyone on the team. Right now they are better off at least giving the prospects a chance to prove their worth to other teams. None of the Leafs prospects outside of Kadri, Frattin and Gardiner are on anyone else’s radar right now. And of the three I mentioned only Gardiner has played long and well enough for other teams to notice.
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