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Two Deadline Directions for Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Now in his fifth season with Leafs TV
 you can watch Brian Duff hosting pre- and post-game shows for all the breaking news surrounding the Blue and White.

March 7, 2006

Leafs TV will have Trade Deadline 2006 covered with breaking news and Leafs Today starting at 3 p.m.. 

(TORONTO) -- It will be exactly two years after the NHL's last trade deadline on Thursday afternoon.

While the appetite of trade-starved fans remains seemingly unaltered as we approach the dealine, those inside the game don't seem to know, or aren't willing to concede, just what might happen this time around.

The new NHL has seen the likes of Sergei Fedorov (and for what it's worth, brother Fedor too), Joe Thornton, Doug Weight, Petr Nedved, and Petr Sykora move in mid-season. But will names of similar weight be moved?

Bryan McCabe and his contract situation are leading to plenty of speculation about his future with the Leafs.
(Getty Images/NHLI)

And if they are, will the Leafs be involved? And if so, in what way? Shipping or receiving?

Admittedly I find myself siding with the former.

This team should probably deal what it can (if it can) and clear some money off the books so it can make a bigger impact this summer than it did one year ago.

At this time the Leafs have close to $20 million committed to 10 players for next season. Assuming the cap rises into the low $40 millions, the team definitely has room to maneuver.

The problem right now is that more and more teams are locking up their own, as in players who could have opted for unrestricted free agent status as of July 1 (Mattias Norstrom in LA being the latest) making this summer's "available list" just a little less attractive.

But we digress.

This deadline doesn't have to be a definitive "we're going for it" or a "we're looking towards next year".

Make the smart deals, shed some unnecessary fat, and play out the final 20 games with a group of players that should still be able to perform a lot better than it has in the last two months.
If the club makes it, that's great news for ownership and fans. Because even if it's eigth, you never truly know what can happen. (See the spring of 2001 when Toronto eked in with 90 points then roasted the Senators in 4-straight, despite finished 19 points behind them!)

If not ... well, depending on how poorly they finish, maybe a complete overhaul will then be necessary. Maybe the team finds out that some of its "character players" didn't live up to expectations at the most critical time.

Will it be harder to deal them after a sub-par season? Absolutely. Does it make them un-tradeable? No.

The last time the Maple Leafs appeared headed for a spring without playoffs was 1998 and the team made a trio of deadline deals, including the acquisition of a 4th round pick from Detroit for Jamie Macoun.
It's taken a while, but it appears as though that trade was a good one, as it yielded winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. These types of deals are always an option, and given John Ferguson's commitment to revamping his scouting staff, he should feel confident to make similar moves this year.

The question is, is Ferguson in any way reluctant to make significant moves given they way 2004 played out? Brian Leetch and Ron Francis did not put them over the top and cost the team two prospects, first, second and fourth round picks.

March 9, 2006. It promises to be an interesting day.

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