Could the Leafs send Liles as part of a package to Florida for Kulikov?

From Damien Cox of the Toronto Star:

One of the players the Maple Leafs have been eying from afar over the past couple of seasons is defenceman Dmitri Kulikov of the Florida Panthers, and Kulikov might just be more available now than he was because of the wreckage of Florida’s early season play.

He’s only 22, but already has four full seasons in the NHL. A couple of problems. He won’t come cheap. He’s in the last year of a contract that comes with a $2.5 million hit and will be looking for a significant pay increase this summer. And he shoots left, with the Leafs more in need of a right-handed shooting blueliner. Like Mike Kostka. Oh, never mind.

Ah yes, what would a trade rumor be without the presence of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

They’re an interesting team to pop up here because on Monday it was reported the Leafs were still trying to trade veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles and were willing to retain much of his salary to get a deal done. Now there’s no indictation whether Florida would have any interest in Liles (though we do know how GM Dale Tallon feels about veteran players), it’s just interesting the timing of the pair of rumors popping up.

35 Responses to Could the Leafs send Liles as part of a package to Florida for Kulikov?

  1. mapleleafsfan says:

    Haha could the Leafs send liles as part of a package for Kulikov? That had better be a pretty big +. I haven’t seen him enough to know, but I’m assuming the + would be Gardiner (and then some?). Would that be worth it even? I’m a big Gardiner fan, and Kulikovs numbers are underwhelming. Haven’t seen enough of him to really say though.

    Also, in need of a right hand shooter “like mike kostka”? That’s a joke, right? Kostka was as awful as awful gets after his miracle first few games.

  2. toronto77 says:

    Do you know what the leafs almost need right now? to have Luke Schenn back. Believe me, I would do that JVR Schenn trade over and over again 100 times but we kind of need a dman like him or what he was “supposed to be” when originally drafted.

    Does anyone not agree that the defence pairings should be:

    currently the top pairing of Phaneuf and Gunnarsson does not have enough offence. Gardiner or Rielly being on the ice the same time as JVR and Kessel would be explosive.

    If Rielly is kept up and Fraser returns it creates a good but interesting problem. I don’t get Ranger either, the guy has been brutal and the management makes excuses like “well he’s been away from the game for 3 years” ok!!!! so why give so much playing time to a guy who has been away from the game that long???

    the leafs are offensively scary with Rielly and Gardiner, but the leafs are not very physically scary outside of maybe Phaneuf and Fraser who aren’t that scary.

    • mojo19 says:

      I agree Ranger has been bad, but he’s looked better the last couple of games. I think he needs to play a lot to shake off the rust. He can’t get back into a groove unless he plays.

      I say give him 20 games to get into form. If he does, great! If he doesn’t, it’s not going to cost us the Stanley Cup. Wait it out with Ranger, and let him play. I say stay the course here.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Ranger hasn’t been bad the past few games at all. He was brutal the first couple, and immediately became a scapegoat. The Ranger hate is just typical leafs fan scapegoat. He’s been miles better than Franson, who has been by far our worst Dman and is just making Rielly look bad so far.

      • mapleleafsfan says:

        *miles better the past few games, not in general

        • realistic_leafs_fan says:

          Although I agree with you on Ranger…Franson has been our worst D-man and he is making Reilly look bad?
          Not that stats are everything, but Franson plays almost 22 mins a night, is tied for 4th in D-man scoring(8pts in 10 games) with an even rating. Reilly is awesome, but he has made mistakes that have cost goals against just like Franson has at times. Not saying Franson is great, but our worst d-man? wow.

          • mapleleafsfan says:

            I meant the past few games as oppossed to the season as a whole. Early on he was a beast, getting more shots on net and making some big hits. He’s had some really bad pinches and poor coverage the past couple of games. I definitely believe he’s more to blame than Rielly for a good number of their goals against.

            Our only really consistent D have been Phaneuf and Gunnar, everyone else has been hit or miss. Just weird how the only one we hear about is Ranger, who is finally playing well.

  3. toronto77 says:

    What do the leafs do about a no.1 centre?

    There are rumors that if Rielly outplays Gardiner that it makes Gardiner expendable and he could be used to acquire a no.1 along with maybe Reimer.

    a trade would have to include either one of Bozak or Kadri to just make room for the no.1 C and Bolland isn’t likely going anywhere. so most likely Bozak/Kadri, Gardiner and Reimer could be used to get a no.1 C, and a pretty good one at that.


    what if the leafs try experimenting with JVR at C? JVR had 2 assists last night and made some beautiful passes on Kessels 1st and 3rd goal, you look at his body, speed and skill and he should have the potential to become a better centre men than either one of Bozak, Kadri and Bolland, that’s if he can make the transition.

    Then the leafs would have to acquire a no.1 winger to fill his position, which would be cheaper than to find a no.1 C.

    • mojo19 says:

      JVR played a bit at centre with Philly, but he’s more comfortable on the wing.

      I have been hoping to see him tried at centre since the day we acquired him. If it works out, I agree he could be the best option there.

      At full health we could have something like:

      Joffrey Lupul – James VanRiemsdyk – Phil Kessel
      Mason Raymond – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
      Jay McClement – Dave Bolland – Nikolai Kulemin
      Frazer McLaren – Tyler Bozak – Colton Orr

      • mojo19 says:

        But alas, I think JVR is destined to be a winger for the bulk of his career.

        • Leafs could definitely use a #1 center, but is it really that much of an issue right now? The offense is there. I’ve only seen a few games but the transition from defense to offense doesn’t seem like a huge problem. Having a player carry the puck through the neutral zone doesn’t seem like a problem, either. Everybody could use somebody good on draws, but getting the puck to JVR and Kessel seems to be happening without a #1 center, and neither have a minus in the +/- column. Having a Kopitar, Toews, Getzlaf would be great, but toronto has the wing support where not having a #1 center isn’t really an issue to their game.

          • toronto77 says:

            Good point, as of right now it does not seem to be an issue, but eventually it may become a problem when you look at not only the no.1 C’s of the teams that made the playoffs last year but all the other no.1 C’s in the league:

            Ana-Getzalf, Bos-Bergeron, Buff-Grigorenko?, Cal-Monahan, Car-Staal, Chi-Toews, Col-Stasny/MacKinnon, Clb-Johansson, Dal-Benn, Det-Datsyuk, Edm-RNH, Fla-Huburdeau, LA-Kopitar, Minn-Koivu/Grandlund, MTL-Plekanec, Nash-Legwand, NJ-Zajac/Henrique, NYI-Tavares, NYR-Callahan, Ott-Spezza, Phi-Giroux, Phx-Hanzal, Pitt-Crosby, SJ-Thorton, Stl-Backes, TB-Stamkos, Tor-Bozak, Van-Sedin, Wash-Backstrom, Win-Schifele

            Would you ever mention Bozak in the same breath as any of these other centre men? out of 30 what you rank him? somewhere from 28-30??

            Sooner or later we may have to make an upgrade.

  4. mojo19 says:

    The Carl has to stay. Over Cody, over Gardiner.

    Carl Gunnarsson was 3rd on the team in ice time last year, 2nd the year before.
    This year his 3 and a half minutes on the PK per game lead the team.
    Last year the Leafs were .608 with Gunner in the lineup and .545 without him. (missed 11 games)
    Gunner took just 7 minor penalties last year, impressive given all the ice time he plays against the league’s best lines.
    He has only 2 minors this year, including an offsetting rough with Perry. Nice work Gunner!

    Good article on right now from Mike Ulmer about Gunner. He points out that Gunner doesn’t possess a particularly amazing shot, he’s not a particularly flashy skater, he doesn’t throw big hits, and thus, to the casual fan he’s not eye catching. You really have to watch the Leafs on a regular basis to fully appreciate the steady play of a quality blue liner like Gunner. The subtleties and smart decisions – these things add up.

    Cody Franson said this: “He keeps his play very safe. He limits his turnovers and finishes his checks. He’s always in good defensive position so you never see him get exposed. He’s that guy nobody talks about because what he does isn’t flashy.”

    Well said Cody.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      I wouldn’t keep Gunnar over Gardiner just because Gardiner has so much raw potential. The thought of trading him blows my mind; he’s so talented and the way he takes over some times is nuts. Do people really forget how dominant he was in the Boston series? He’s been inconsistent to start, but has had his moments and was great again against Anaheim with the increased workload. Carlyle is trusting him more and more – he’s third in D in mins and I believe he was first against Anaheim – arguably our best defensive game this year.

      I just wouldn’t move either of them unnecessarily. I don’t get the obsession with trading a defencemen. Our problem is getting shots and exiting our zone, our D are solid puck movers for the most part – so I don’t really think a change there will make a huge difference. It’s gotta be a communication thing, or just beginning of the seasons rust. We’re 7-3, why make a move at all right now? Fraser will come back and add toughness, which is all we lack back there.

      Agreed that Gunnar is underappreciated for sure, and unless he’s packaged for a 1B defencemen, what’s the point? Not really going to find a guy who does everything as adequately as Gunnarsson that’s worth giving up assets for.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      I have really liked Gunnar’s game the past 5-6 games. I wasn’t thrilled with his first 3-4 games of the season, but he has really turned it up since. If he keeps it up, he will be great value at $3.15 per season.
      That said, doesn’t mean he is more important than the other guys IMO. All Leafs d-man have something to offer, but is it the right balance and chemistry? It may be still too early to tell. At the moment, I would say we lack a top 4, physical RHD that can play 20+mins a night. If that continues, it will cost a good player or players to acquire that type of D and cap hit also plays into it. Gardiner or Franson would have to be packaged with more money going the other way, where as Gunnar may not, which is the unfortunate thing that makes Gunnar a more tradeable asset. Gunnar under contract for two more years also makes him very interesting to other teams and increases his trade value where other Leaf d-men contracts ends this year.
      It will be interesting to see what Nonis does. Does he stand pat on D this season? Or does he move a D to fill a need and if so, who does he move with 5 Leafs d-men scheduled to be UFA or RFA at end of season and only Gunnar and Rielly signed for next year.

  5. blaze says:

    What are the thoughts on Rielly staying up? I love it. I know mojo I think said we should look to his long term development on this one and I agree. However I think this is the path for the best long term development.

    I say burn a year of ELC and let him play until atleast the world juniors. At the point either he played himself onto the team and stays for the year.

    Or you cut him loose to the world juniors then send him to finish the year in the Marlies. Much better than a return to junior in my opinion.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      I agree. He’s definitely proven to be NHL calibre. Sending him down just for the sake of it doesn’t seem worthwhile to me. He’s way too good for juniors.

      • doorman says:

        I agree with mojo, I am of the mind it is better long term. I could care less about a year burned off the ELC or to UFA staus. I do think there is something to be said for learning to be truly dominate and that the World Jr’s would have been a great experience. I have seen so many young leaf blueliners rushed and ruined. And like it or not we now have a roster problem.

        • blaze says:

          Is Junior better at this point though? Or is world juniors then Marlies a better development path?

          I’m of the mind of the latter being the best path for Reilly reaching his best potential.

          • doorman says:

            I think if he was of age to play with the Marlies he would, though jr, WJC then marlie late season & playoff run would be great.

          • Gambo says:

            Rielly has deserved to stay, no question about it. However it definitely would be nice to see him dominate the dub, also taking on a leadership role would be huge. I think keeping him for now is the right decision, he’s got the strength, smarts, speed and skill to play in the NHL right now. His decision making, like a lot of young players will need to improve. The only way to get used to the speed of the NHL is by playing in it.

            I’d really like to see him play in the world Juniors, it’s one of my favourite events to watch.

            • doorman says:

              Luke Schenn played well enough to deserve to stay too, but his development was hindered by it, well and Ron Wilson. I am not saying he doesn’t deserve too, but it isn’t always the best long term choice.

              • mapleleafsfan says:

                I see the concern, but pretty different players. Schenn was overrated from the word go because he was built like a man and playing with boys when he was younger. It translated fairly well when he first came to the nhl because he was big enough to compete and be physical. Eventually we all realized he just wasn’t overly skilled and was in a brutal system for him. He’s actually been decent in Philly, and I’m sure would’ve been good under Carlyle (still robbed them in that trade).

                Rielly doesn’t have to be overly physical to be succesful. His skating is elite and he has good vision. He’s been enough to be here too.

                Who knows though, maybe I’ll look back in a few years and curse this move but I definitely think he will continue to impress.

                • mapleleafsfan says:

                  lol. Big enough*

                • mojo19 says:

                  It’s not just Luke Schenn though. Cam Fowler and Tyler Myers are other recent examples of dmen who set the league on fire when they came in and now it’s been a couple years and they’re still trying to find their games.

                  I just don’t know that Rielly brings us closer to a Cup this year. And that is the ultimate goal. So I don’t see the harm in sending him down, but I do see the harm in keeping him up.

                  Unfortunately the system is flawed. Rielly should really play in the AHL this year, not Jr not the show.

              • Gambo says:

                Schenn was also 18, stayed with the leafs first year after being drafted without a taste of pro. This is Rielly’s second year since being drafted and is 19. It’s only a year, but at that age it’s a long time. It’s a little different to compare the two. But yeah i see what you’re saying, i don’t disagree with either option.

                • mojo19 says:

                  Myers came up at 19 as well… But that is an interesting point.

                  Also Schenn came up onto a very bad team and Rielly is up on a considerably better team, which could make a big difference.

                  I’m optimistic about Rielly but a little skeptical of the decision. Overall though, I love the way this kid plays and skates and finishes his checks. He looks like a young Scott Niedermayer out there.

                  • mapleleafsfan says:

                    Myers also won the Calder that year, so it’s hard to say he shouldn’t have been playing. I’m not sure why he’s regressed so hard, but he was definitely NHL ready that year.

                    Agreed about the difference in teams. I think that makes a big difference. Schenn was expected to be a top shutdown guy. Rielly isn’t expected to be a lights out defensive player, which I think is much harder to do at a young age.

                    • Gambo says:

                      Yeah idk what happened to Myers. I remember him being called the next Chara and the top defenseman in the 2008 draft.

                      I don’t know if this is exactly true or not, but i can only assume he was getting easier minutes in his rookie year; more offensive starts, going up against weaker forward lines, etc. compared to the first pairing minutes he has been getting since then usually against the top players. I’m not sure if that’s what has been happening but if so it could play a big factor.

          • Shoelesshobo says:

            MLSE would love if they could send him to the AHL and give him time to develop but the sad truth is they can’t it is NHL or Juniors. Personally I am not a fan usually of keeping a player just because ELC are soo nice in a cap era but I am hoping Rielly can prove me wrong.

            • doorman says:

              Holy crap batman, where the hell have you been buddy? lol

            • blaze says:

              I believe after 40 NHL games he can avoid returning to Junior and play in the AHL from then on.

              I feel Rielly deserved more than 9 games and in my opinion getting more than 9 games this year is more beneficial to his long term development then returning to junior in October.

              The only downside I’d say is losing a year of ELC but if it’s better for Rielly than its a non issue. I doubt he stays for the duration of the year and I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him play at the Juniors.

  6. toronto77 says:

    Anyone see JVR’s reaction to Rielly making the team? hilarious!

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