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The Leafs Trade Deadline: Expectations Vs. Hopes

What we hope will happen is unlikely to, though perhaps our expectations are too doom and gloom.

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TSN basically has to pump the NHL trade deadline's tires; "insider" info is about the only thing keeping them relevant to the national Canadian television audience, what with their losing the national broadcast contract bidding war to Sportsnet earlier in this season. Moreover, we know that we, as Leafs fans, drive an awful lot of web traffic, and for TSN it literally pays to bring the Leafs up whenever discussing trade rumours. With that metaphorical grain of salt weighing heavily on our euphemistic tongues, it'd be nice to think that we as a Leafs fan base can exercise some restraint with regards to rumours and speculation but... well, you know how likely that is.

I like to think that we here at PPP do our best to be balanced in our predictions and fair in our assessments, but for our own sanity, it's going to be difficult to keep an even keel this time around.The problem this year is that if we actually listen to everything Dreger says, ALL the Leafs good, young pieces are up for grabs. GMs do little to quell the rumours, since they often answer with something non-committal like "well, I'd trade any player, so long as the offer is good enough".

For now, let's try to take a set approach to examining what Dave Nonis is likely to do: we'll examine our hopes for a given player versus what we expect Nonis to do. On one hand, it's easy to get excited about we hope the Leafs' front office will do ("Kesler! Woo!") but on the other, it's easy to be pessimistic about what we expect ("Kadri is as good as gone!"). Let's try to find that peaceful, Middle Way.

First off, it should be re-iterated that Nonis has said that he doesn't expect to be a major player at the trade deadline, but it's not like this is a position made on principle. If Nonis sees something great, you know he'll go for it. So while it's easy to worry about the young kids being dealt, at least the team's GM has plainly said that he is very unlikely to do so.

James Reimer

#34 / Goalie / Toronto Maple Leafs



Mar 15, 1988

Old Rumour, More Recent Speculation

2013 - James Reimer 25 1238 10 7 Unlimited 66 3.20 755 689 .913 1

HOPE: The Leafs can re-sign Reimer to a reasonable contract and continue with the tandem goalie situation next season. Jonathan Bernier is probably going to come down to earth a bit, and given the volume of shots he faces on a nightly basis, it seems like a great idea to keep Reimer around for a while longer, at least.

EXPECTATION: We haven't heard anything about an extension being negotiated, it's unlikely that the Leafs will have the cap space next season to pay for tandem goaltending, there is no reason for Nonis to wait until the summer when Reimer walks for nothing except that he might keep him for a playoff run. Back in January, Nonis couldn't "envision" moving him, but these days, things don't look as good for Reimer. He's a definite trade candidate.

[Edit: I only realized after posting this that Reimer is an RFA after this season, not a UFA. So he can't just "walk".]

Jake Gardiner

#51 / Defenseman / Toronto Maple Leafs



Jul 04, 1990

Source of rumour

2013 - Jake Gardiner 61 5 12 17 -4 17 1 0 1 You Betcha 94 5.3

HOPE: The obvious hope is that the Leafs keep him and he eventually becomes a reliable top-4 defender. It's no secret that his defensive game needs to improve and that his current scoring rate is a bit low (though his on-ice Sh% is also low), but his numbers at BtN actually look OK relative to other Leafs defenders. Please Mr. Nonis, keep Jake.

EXPECTATION: I expect that Nonis is intelligent enough to know that Gardiner still holds a lot of value on the trade market, and won't part with him easily, even if his coach... ugh, I can't even finish that sentence. The Leafs need defence, so it wouldn't make sense for Gardiner to be traded for anything but an upgrade at that position.

Cody Franson

#4 / Defenseman / Toronto Maple Leafs



Aug 08, 1987

Source of rumour

2013 - Cody Franson 61 4 23 27 -14 24 1 0 0 Now he does 89 4.5

HOPE: He's put up great power play numbers but his 5v5 production isn't as strong. His defensive game has been significantly weaker this season compared to last. It's still possible he can regain form but he's also approaching his peak in terms of age. Back in December, the Rangers showed real interest in acquiring him but the Leafs declined the offer of Michael Del Zotto. For now, we'll hope that he stays, but only in the absence of a better option coming down the Leafs' D pipeline. If the team can package him for a better player, then why not?

EXPECTATION: Franson hasn't been a big focal point for rumours for a while now, so it seems unlikely now. Carlyle really likes Franson's whip of a shot from the half boards on the first power play unit, and it's easy to see why. It would probably take something significant to prise him from the Leafs.

Dave Bolland

#63 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs



Jun 05, 1986

Speculation source, another speculation source, and another

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Major Injuries SOG PCT
2013 - Dave Bolland 15 6 4 10 4 18 1 1 2 One pretty big one 27 22.2

HOPE: Trade him yesterday. Given his injury history (and probable future) Bolland's contract demands would make him an incredible risk if the Leafs ever signed him. All we can hope for is that the negotiations really go badly and the Leafs feel the need to get something rather than nothing for him, because you know they want him back, and you know they're eager to look past his very serious tendon injury. If they don't re-sign him, keeping him as a rental wouldn't be awful, since the team will need depth if it's going to make a run at the playoffs. It's not like I don't want him on the team, it's just that the money he's asking for isn't in line with his skill set.

EXPECTATION: The pessimist in me believes that the Leafs are going to over-extend themselves making offers to Bolland. Whether or not they actually come to terms is someone else's guess, so I won't speculate. This one could go either way.

Nikolai Kulemin

#41 / Forward / Toronto Maple Leafs



Jul 14, 1986

Speculation source, more speculation, and older rumour source

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Is Enigmatic? SOG PCT
2013 - Nikolai Kulemin 51 8 10 18 1 12 0 0 4 Not at all 56 14.3

HOPE: He's going to re-sign somewhere for much cheaper than David Clarkson and he's going to perform better, likely out-producing and being better as a role player so the big hope is that the Leafs realize this and ditch Clarkson. Heck, maybe he'd sign a sweetheart deal and let the Leafs keep him AND Clarkson.

EXPECTATIONS: None of the above is going to happen. These scenarios are unlikely in the extreme and it's perfectly reasonable to expect Kulemin to be dealt. Of course, maybe the Leafs keep him as a rental. After, all, Nonis was asking for a good roster player plus a pick earlier, and I doubt teams will line up to pay that much for a guy who isn't under contract beyond this season. In fact, that looks more and more likely. Of course, some of this hinges on the next player on this list.

Mason Raymond

#12 / Left Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs



Sep 17, 1985

">Speculation source, more speculation, and a rumour

2013 - Mason Raymond 63 17 19 36 -2 18 6 0 3 LOTS 138 12.3

HOPE: The Leafs are just not going to be able to afford all these expensive third line wingers, but if they're not going to keep Kulemin, you'd like to see Raymond back on a reasonable deal. What defines 'resonable' anymore though is anyone's guess, but it's clear that ol' MayRay is due for a pay hike. The Leafs, if they're going to make the playoffs, are definitely going to need him.

EXPECTATION: Randy Carlyle seems to like him, as Raymond has received pretty steady power play time and has played at least some time on almost everyone's line. The guy sure can skate too, so I'd be surprised if the Leafs deal him.

Nazem Kadri

#43 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs



Oct 06, 1990

Speculation source, old rumour, and another half rumour

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG Friend Of Complacency SOG PCT
2013 - Nazem Kadri 59 15 27 42 -9 61 4 0 1 Yes...wait no! 104 14.4

HOPE: The Kadri rumours have been dying down lately, though some folks have gotten excited about the thought of Ryan Kesler. The thing is, Kadri is a great young player and the Leafs don't have anyone approaching his talent level on the way up at centre, so it seems totally insane to trade him. TOTALLY INSANE.

EXPECTATION: Even the imminent return of Bolland wouldn't replace the skill that Kadri brings, and he's still got growing room. I wouldn't expect him to move.