Bear with me here for a minute.
With the All-Star Game over, we're less than one month away from the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. Many names, big and small, have been thrown about as potential targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Suter, and James van Riemsdyk are probably the five that have been discussed the most by Leaf fans. They're also five names that are either incredibly unlikely to move (Nash) or have been taken off the trade market (Ryan, Getzlaf, Suter, JVR). So moving forward, who could the Leafs realistically target as an upgrade to the line-up? Will Burke find the elusive first line center or the power forward he claims to be looking for? Follow after the jump for some names to watch...
Please note that these names reflect the opinion of the author and do not constitute trade rumors or trade proposals.
Morrow's name was first mentioned by Nick Kypreos during one of Sportsnet's Intermission segments on October 17th, 2011 as a player the Leafs had expressed interest in. On Thursday, TSN's Bob McKenzie blogged that Morrow could be available closer to the deadline, but as of right now it's still uncertain.
The issues most seem to have when Morrow's name is mentioned are age and cap hit. The Stars' captain just turned 33 and has one more year left on his deal at $4.1 million. Given that his numbers are down this year, there is cause for concern. However, Morrow scored 33 goals last season with the Stars, had 225 hits (nearly double the total of the highest Leaf last year), played tough minutes, and produced well at ES offensively. Morrow would not be a major upgrade; but given that Burke has repeatedly stated his interest in acquiring a physical player for the Leafs' top six and the rumors about Toronto's interest since the start of the season, it seems that Morrow's name would be one to watch should Dallas fall further out of the playoff picture.
This will not be the first time I've mentioned Paul Stastny as a Leafs target. I thought they should have made a push for the young center last summer before signing Tim Connolly. Stastny is not one of the elite point producers in the NHL. He fits comfortably in that second tier of scorers, averaging 0.89 points per game since he entered the league in 2006-2007. He's the third highest scoring player from the 2005 draft class behind Crosby and Anze Kopitar.
Like Morrow, Stastny is struggling in the scoring department this season. His current pace of 50 points would be his career worst, excluding the injury shortened 2008-2009 season. At a cap hit of $6.6 million per year, that's a tough pill to swallow for a cap floor team like Colorado. That said, he's maintained a positive Corsi number throughout his career and moves the puck in the right direction despite a lot of defensive zone starts. Stastny fits in with the general age range of the Leafs core group and has a solid history of production. Colorado is a cap floor team that has to re-sign all but six skaters before next season. With Matt Duchene currently on IR, it seems unlikely that the Avs move Stastny before the deadline. However, should Colorado fall further out of contention for the 8th spot in the West, I'd figure the chances of Stastny being dealt could increase.
Let me guess: your first word was "Who?" Galiardi was the Avs second round pick in 2007. He's 6'2, he has some offensive talent, and he's a shit disturber. He plays with an edge (sometimes going overboard), which is something the Leafs need in their top 9. He's not a top six player yet, but he's also not paid like one. He signed a one-year deal back in the summer for $700k.
At 21, he scored 39 points in 70 games with the Avs. Galiardi is a piece that the Leafs could bring in at a low cost, play 15-16 minutes a night on the third line, and chip in with more offense than a Mike Brown or Joey Crabb. And he's only 23. Again, this is a case where the Avs could be looking at trimming some fat before they start re-signing players in the summer, and with Peter Mueller, Daniel Winnik, and Gabriel Landeskog in the mix at left wing, Galiardi could be available.
I put Okposo last because I think he'd be the least likely of this group to be traded. The young American had only six points through November, and I thought his time on the island could be over. Since then he's helped the Islanders climb out of the basement with 9 goals and 19 points in 26 games. Okposo is another young player just about to enter the prime of his career, and the deal he signed back in the summer pays him only $2.8 million over the next five seasons. 50 points or better a season at that price is a steal.
On the other hand, the Islanders have several young forwards on the way, including Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson, not to mention Nino Niederreiter. New York's weakness is on defense, where they really lack talent and depth. Does that make Toronto a good trading partner? Tough to say, but I think Okposo would definitely be a guy that Brian Burke would have interest in as a top six power forward.