Three straight losses didn’t scare Leafs' GM Dave Nonis into making a trade, as the Buds have chosen to charge through the final stretch with the same roster that has compiled a 32-23-8 record through 63 games so far.
It's always underwhelming to witness two full days of blockbuster trades, many involving divisional rivals, and watching your team do nothing. But sometimes, standing pat is the right call. Was it the right move for the Leafs today? That might take a few months to determine.
What we do know is that whether the Leafs were active or not on the trade front, making the playoffs will not be easy.
Toronto currently sits in control of the top Wild Card spot, but there are five teams below the Leafs within striking distance. Detroit, Washington and New Jersey are all within four points, while four of the five teams in pursuit have games in hand over the Leafs.
To make matters even more difficult, 11 of the Buds' final 19 games are on the road, and 10 of those games are against teams with better records. The Leafs needs to step up their play quickly to stay in the drivers seat.
Should the Leafs have made a trade today? Lets investigate.
The Buds current blueline is not suited for a deep run. The acquisition of Tim Gleason in January certainly patched some holes, while Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson have certainly proven to be a formidable first pairing so far. Nonetheless, the Leafs consistently lose battles in their own zone and let opponents pound the net. Jake Gardiner and Morgan Reilly’s inexperience have been an issue, as each are prone to costly errors. Cody Franson has taken a large leap backwards this year, and cannot be trusted to play a major defensive role despite being the biggest defenceman on the team. Paul Ranger and Mark Fraser have not yet proven they could be everyday NHL defencemen, thus it would have been nice to grab a cheap, steady veteran to either slot with Reilly or Gardiner as an insurance policy, or Tim Gleason as a shutdown pairing.
As for the forwards, many are struggling. Phil Kessel, JVR and Tyler Bozak have exceeded expectations offensively, but teams with one line of offence simply cannot win. Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri’s stats are way down, and David Clarkson has shown he cannot be counted on to generate scoring. The team will get a much needed boost from Dave Bolland's return in the near future, but its very optimistic to think a checking, two-way centre can spearhead an offensive turnaround for numerous struggling forwards.
Also for consideration, Mason Raymond, Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McClement are all poised to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. All are integral pieces in the hunt for a playoff spot, but all are asking for hefty raises next season. Would it have been a smart move to acquire some assets for one or more of these players, especially if they aren't in Nonis' future plans?
On the "stand pat" side, Nonis explained in his press conference that a trade today would have hurt the Leafs in the long run. If the season ended today, the Buds are a playoff team right now, so why trade away the future when this young team is competing.
There were endless possibilities today but only one reality: the Leafs didn't make any moves. How do you feel about it?