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The Official Site of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Needing a final piece, part II

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Gord Stellick

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.

While the Leafs never won the Cup or made it to the Stanley Cup finals, Maloney had a very solid career while in Toronto. On the other hand Thompson was out of the NHL three years after the trade while the two first-round picks acquired by Detroit became Brent Petersen and Mike Blaisdell, two players who had journeyman careers.

The second memory was not quite under the same circumstances. As the Leafs counted down to that memorable 1993 playoff run they had a significant asset to trade in Grant Fuhr. Cliff Fletcher was able to parlay Fuhr and a fifth-round selection into a great deal with the Buffalo Sabres for Dave Andreychuk, Daren Puppa and a first-round pick. The deal became even sweeter when the Leafs used that first-round pick to draft Ken Jonsson later that summer.

Larry Murphy was dealt from the Leafs to the Wings and helped them to two Stanley Cups (Credit: Elsa Hasch/Allsport)
Andreychuk brought his sniper ways to Toronto and scored 25 goals in 31 games with the Leafs (he totaled 54 for the season) and led the Leaf with 12 goals in 21 playoff games in that memorable spring.

It's still a long was to the NHL trade deadline and an even longer way until the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. But, it's still not too early to start thinking about making that right move(s). The Vancouver Canucks got the regular season trading derby rolling by reacquiring Trevor Linden in a trade with the Washington Capitals. Brian Burke realized that heart, grit, determination, leadership and character was a void in his team and it is something Linden exuded in his first stint in Vancouver (1988 to 1998). To Vancouver it was worth gambling a first-round draft choice for a player whose best days are behind him.

What Burke added to the Canucks was an element the Leafs had added with the signings of Roberts and Corson. Last season the element was whether the Leafs would meet the Philadelphia Flyers price for Eric Lindros. That seemed to be a distraction and an impediment for the Leafs swinging any other significant trade deadline deals, although the acquisition of Aki Berg (for Adam Mair and a draft pick) was a pleasant surprise.

This year it is not difficult to gauge what the Leafs need to acquire (a core four defenceman) but it is difficult to find a suitable fit to address that need. Teppo Numminen of Phoenix, Patrice Brisebois of Montreal, Robert Svehla of Florida and Lyle Odelein are some names of players who could be available. More names will merit consideration as the playoff race becomes clearer. None of these names seems like a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate but who would have thought Larry Murphy would have played such an integral role in the two Red Wing Stanley Cups after the Wings acquired him for basically nothing from the Leafs at the 1997 trade deadline.

To make the jump for the Leafs from a top ten team to a top five club and then ultimately to the Stanley Cup champion will involve several ingredients, including a trade or two by the deadline.

Stay tuned - lots of trade talks and rumours still to come.
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