You may or may not be aware of this but the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the market for a first-line center. Rumours have been circulating about two players in particular -- Jeff Carter and Paul Stastny.
Philadelphia needs to shed some salary if they're going to be able to fit Bryzgalov under the cap and Carter's cap hit of $5.25M a year means that he would probably be available for the right offer. Problem here is that if you believe any of the rumours, it sounds like Columbus is involved and is using the 8th overall pick in this draft as bait.
Carter makes a lot of sense for Columbus as his near-lifetime contract would ensure that he and Nash are both members of the team for about as long as the Blue Jackets want them to be. The pick that they could offer is also a fairly high one and Philly is probably not looking to take much (if any) salary back. I doubt the Leafs would be outbidding Columbus for Carter if he were to hit the trade market.
Colorado is in a different situation entirely. They're rebuilding but they still have to reach the salary floor. At $6.6M, Stastny is by far their most expensive contract and they would need to replace his money somehow if he were dealt. Their cap situation will get considerably murkier the following season as Matt Duchene, Peter Mueller, Erik Johnson, Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Quincey are all scheduled to become RFAs next offseason. By that time, the Avs should have no problem meeting the floor, and may exceed it significantly depending on the development of their prospects. Colorado is also about to draft 2nd overall and 11th overall in the upcoming draft. The rebuild is on for the Avalanche.
So assuming that Carter is out, how could the Leafs land a guy like Stastny? Would we be willing to pay the price? How would you feel about something like this:
To Toronto: Paul Stastny
To Colorado: Jonathan Bernier, Philadelphia's 1st round pick, Boston's 1st round pick
To Los Angeles: Nazem Kadri
Rationale - Toronto: I think most Leaf fans will understand what they're getting out of this deal. Stastny is a legitimate first-line center and he's a distributer which means he's better suited to playing Kessel's wing than a shot-first center like Carter. He's also American, which is a trait Burke has shown that he likes.
The cost is a big package of futures. Kadri is our top prospect and is well regarded and the two first round picks in this deal means we wont pick in the first round again this season. It's a lot, but the late first rounders will more likely than not be players that are of the McKegg, Ross, Gardiner or at best Colborne mold and we have at least four guys like that in the system already. Sure, there's a chance that we surrender a surprise gem like a Mike Green, John Carlson, Corey Perry, etc. but that's the chance we'd have to take.
Rationale - Colorado: Things have been pretty bleak for the Avs in goal since Patrick Roy retired. Remember David Aebischer? Yeah, not pretty. The Avs get one of the best, if not the best, goaltending prospect out there and some late first rounders to compliment the pair of early firsts. Stastny himself is probably not the Avs first-line center given Matt Duchene's development thus far and $6.6M is a lot of coin for a second-line player. It's not completely untenable, but if you can address a need, it might be worth moving him.
The problem at this point would be spending to the cap floor. Some Leaf fans might not be aware of this but there quite a few good defensemen entering unrestricted free agency this offseason. Guys like Kevin Bieksa, Anton Babchuk and James Wisniewski are guys that Colorado should probably be targeting if they have the funds available. Chris Drury's pending buyout by the Rangers would also present an attractive target for the Avs. Bringing Drury back to Colorado to provide a veteran presence and help mentor Matt Duchene seems like a great fit as well.
Rationale - Los Angeles: The Kings have a great prospect pool and are most definitely on the upswing. Adding Nazem Kadri to a forward group that includes Anze Kopitar, Brayden Schenn and Dustin Brown as well as young defensemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson means that LA would have one of the most talented young lineups imaginable. Johnathan Quick had another great season and at the age of 25, there doesn't seem to be much space for Bernier despite his immense talents.
For LA, this deal is about moving a great goaltending prospect for a very talented forward prospect. They don't have a need in goal at the moment, but you can never have too many talented, young forwards.
So Leaf fans, what do you think? Are you comfortable parting with a package like this or does it feel a little too much like 'draft, shmaft'?
They say that a sign of a good trade is one that nobody is completely happy with and this is that. I'd hate to lose Kadri and those 1sts but if thats the price for Stastny then you've got to do it right?
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