Gord Stellick is host of The Big Show, the popular afternoon radio program on the FAN 590. The former general manager of the Maple Leafs is also a hockey commentator on numerous local and national television shows.
To the Leafs credit they were aggressive in pursuing Rob Blake last season and though they settled for Aki Berg, he has proved to be a useful and positive addition.
Unfortunately, Quinn's major offseason trade with the Phoenix Coyotes has not paid the desired dividend. That dividend was the addition of Robert Reichel, who was supposed to provide offensive depth at the centre position behind Sundin. That hasn't been the case.
The loss of Danny Markov has proven to be a larger hole than first anticipated. While Markov had an ordinary season last year, he has been a hit on the blueline with the Phoenix Coyotes. He leads all their defencemen in scoring and his physical presence has been especially well received.
| Mats Sundin and the guys may need some help before the playoff run. |
Graig Abel Photography
So what are Pat Quinn's options? It's highly unlikely he will be able to make a big splash (like a Blake, Keith Tkachuk or Teemu Selanne trade of last season) so he will have to try and make a couple of lesser deals.
While the Pittsburgh Penguins claim they disagree with Darius Kasparaitis' position that he's an unrestricted free agent this summer therefore feeling no pressure to trade him, and Robert Svehla claims he will retire from the NHL if he is moved from the Florida Panthers, teams like the Leafs still have to pursue these two avenues.
How about Jason York and his lucrative contract from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, who are apparently contemplating a fire sale? Would the Buffalo Sabres send a salary dump or two down the QEW since it is doubtful they will make the playoffs?
Does Lyle Odelein of Columbus have enough left in the tank? Could Andy Delmore of Nashville provide the surprising offense he did for Philadelphia in the playoffs a few years ago? What is the status of Sylvain Lefebvre's health and can he improve on his flashes of indifferent play with the New York Rangers? Is Stan Neckar worth considering from the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Certainly none of the above options are a move like Cliff Fletcher's acquisition of Dave Andreychuk as part of a trade that included Grant Fuhr going to Buffalo in 1993. That emerging Leaf team received a huge boost with the addition of Andreychuk, who would total 54 goals that regular season and scored 12 in 21 playoff games during that great Leaf run. The 2002 Maple Leafs will have to settle for a lesser shot in the arm than a Dave Andreychuk.
Quinn, the coach, has proven he still has the skills that made him a successful in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Vancouver. Leaf ownership has illustrated willingness, on occasion, to open the vault to sign an unrestricted free agent.
Quinn's general manager record remains open to more debate and criticism. Let's see how opinions could change after this year's trade deadline.