Here is the latest edition of Leaf Buzz with CTV London's Norman James and myself discussing the Leafs losing weekend.
With the Leafs riding high with a three game winning streak and 6-1-1 in their last eight games, the weekend losses to Pittsburgh and Buffalo have thrown Leafs Nation for a loop. With that being the case, it is a good time to take some questions from Twitter and the comments section:
A - The NHL GM Meetings take place on Tuesday in Toronto and the one-quarter mark is when NHL clubs take a second look and maybe toy with the idea of tinkering with their roster. Leafs GM Dave Nonis surely has some irons in the fire when it comes to potential moves, but the question is what and for whom.
With a number of teams looking for defensemen, Jake Gardiner or Cody Franson could be available for trade. Franson because he is an unrestricted free agent and putting up good offensive numbers so far, Gardiner because he is mobile, young and talented, but may need a change of scenery from the hypercritical Toronto market which amplifies every defensive gaffe he makes.
Franson would be a rental situation and would likely get a second round pick in return, the type of deal made closer to the deadline. Gardiner is a bigger deal and would involve the Leafs getting a significant young player in return.
A - It would take that kind of effort to get McDavid in Toronto. Buffalo, Arizona, Florida, Edmonton, Columbus and a few others are well on their way to have anywhere from 6 to 20% chance of winning the lottery. Divesting the likes of Kessel, Phaneuf and JVR is not realistic and barring catastrophic injuries to those key players, I do not see the Leafs being able to be bad enough to get a high percentage chance of getting the top pick.
If the Leafs miss the playoffs, they are likely to finish in the 1 to 6% range.
A - Gardiner's mistakes are overlooked??? Not by the Leafs management and coaching staff, not by the media and certainly not by the fans. The Leafs see incredible potential with top end offensive and skating ability, but it is an open question whether he will ever be able to be an average defenseman in his own zone. If Gardiner could manage that feat, Toronto could have themselves a bargain at just over $4 Million salary per season.
Defensemen with Gardiner's skill set are not common in the league, so if the Leafs grow tired of waiting for him to become a more complete player, there will surely be another team that will take the chance.
Q(from MCharisma91 in the comments): Kadri & Gardiner and maybe another piece for Yandle & Domi?
A - I'll put my Leafs GM hat on for this one......not in a million years. Yandle is four years older than Gardiner, makes over $1 Million more and is not much better defensively. Kadri has the skill but has been labeled too small and not good enough defensively to play in the top six, those concerns are similar for the 5'9", 185 lb son of Tie, who has remarkable playmaking ability and speed. If the Leafs are to package both Kadri and Gardiner in the same deal, the goal would be to acquire that elusive top line center they have been missing since the departure of Mats Sundin.
Q(from TonkaPhaneuf in the comments): Where do you see Peter Holland fitting on this team in the years to come? Could he progress to a second line C or will that spot still be Kadri's?
A - Holland has the physical stature(6'2", 185lb) more conducive to a second line center and has shown in brief windows of opportunity that he can score when paired with offensive wingers. Kadri and Holland are the same age and have the same amount of points this season, but Holland is in the last year of his entry level deal and will be likely signed to a bridge deal next summer. The Leafs do not have that luxury with Kadri, who is a restricted free agent after a two-year bridge deal at the end of this season and will be looking for a long term deal. His play this season is not convincing anyone that he would be worth that type of commitment.
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******
For Those on Twitter:
KINDLE USERS: Please sign up for Maple Leafs Buzz, which includes a free-of-charge 14-day trial and is just 99 cents per month afterwards. For more information click here