Buy low, sell high. It's a simple concept that governs the maximization of all assets over time and hockey is no different.
There were several deals made last year that saw underachieving players moved to new teams where these underachievers were given new life. Our own Lee Stempniak is a great example of the kind of player that just needed a different situation in order to maximize their own value. Peter Mueller lit it up in Colorado after a few disappointing seasons in Phoenix. Montreal and Minnesota both improved their teams swapping Latendresse for Pouliot as each player adapted well to their new addresses.
The Leafs are still looking to improve their team up front but don't have any big assets that they'll be looking to move in order to do so. Given this, the best targets are going to be these kinds of guys - the underachievers. Here's a short list of guys that I think might fit that category.
Andrew Cogliano - People that know me also know that I don't think very highly of Cogliano. I think he's soft, a defensive liability and has a shot that's roughly as weak as Alex Steen's. Having said this, there's no disputing that he has game-changing speed and who knows what he might be able to do in the right situation. His production has dipped significantly as he tallied a mere 28 points last year. Sliding him over to the wing for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs might be just what the doctor ordered for the young speedster.
Petr Prucha - Prucha had 22 points in 79 games last year. Not exactly the stuff of legends. Having said this, he's a winger that has always been of the score first, assist later bend which is kind of what the Leafs need right now. I doubt he'll score 30 again but in the right situation the 28 year-old could probably be a twenty goal scorer again and the cost to acquire him would be infinitesimal.
Steve Bernier - The Panthers kind of beat us to this one, acquiring Bernier in the deal that sent Keith Ballard out of town. Bernier has a Brian Burke frame at 6'2" and 225 lbs but he hasn't necessarily played a Burke-like game. Ron Wilson might be the kind of coach that can get the most of a kid like Bernier and at 25 he could grow with our team's young core. Only 22 points last season may mean he was a throw-in to the Ballard deal so he may be expendable for the Panthers.
James Van Riemsdyk - I can hear the cries of, "that's never going to happen!!!!1" right now, and I know, it's a stretch. Van Riemsdyk moving is possible however as the Flyers have significant cap issues, no goalie and very little room for top-six forwards up front. Simon Gagne was moved out to make room for Zherdev and the goaltending issues continue to linger. 35 points last season and getting less than top-six minutes might mean that the Flyers don't have much faith in JVR - otherwise why not let him continue to develop in the AHL? I see Van Riemsdyk moving the same way Mueller did last year. Both were talented high picks and may have appeared untouchable and yet Mueller moved. Maybe JVR does too.