Should Leafs Trade Sundin?
Should the Leafs trade Mats Sundin?
It really all depends on what plan John Ferguson has. No one really knows what he plans on doing to make the Leafs into a contender. If you believe the talk, it appears as though JFJ has been caught flatfooted and very offguard in this wild off-season so far. He has overestimated the players love for coming to Toronto and so has Richard Peddie who boldly stated that players would come here for less. The assumption that players would play for peanuts just to be a Leaf was very poor. He has inacurate in the value of the players vastly overpaying Ed Belfour who has only been a Leaf for two years and was old and chronically hurt, but trying to undercut Gary Roberts who has bled blue and white since he became a Leaf.
Ferguson’s decision to stand pat was based on the assumption that the likes of Roberts, Nieuwendyk and Domi would come back no matter what. He qualified all his RFAs no matter good players or not and he chose not to buy out any of his players except Owen Nolan keeping his payroll high but player count low.
He has always been preaching that the Leafs will compete but based on what we have seen and the roster that is current that seems like a longshot. If that was his plan, to keep the Leafs competitive and borderlining on Stanley cup contention then he has failed miserably. He foolishly committed nearly 5 million to keep his restricted free agents while other teams were buying out or not qualifying comparable players. He foolishly did not buy out Ed Belfour when there were other goalies out there who were younger and cheaper. And he foolishly overpaid on his current blueliners when none of them can be considered top notch defencemen.
So perhaps his plan was to stand pat this year and go for broke next year as they will have 30 plus million in cap room. That is all well and good if the top guys available dont sign long term deals already. But we have seen Pronger join the Oilers for 5 years and Iginla join the FLames for 3 more. And it is more than likely that Tampa and BOston respectively will hold on to their franchise players in Lecavalier and Thornton after investing so much time and money to help them be the players they are now. They themselves would be foolish to see them walk for nothing. But this plan is very shortsighted as we have seen guys re-sign with their own teams, we have seen guys shun the Leafs for much more obscure places like Florida and Columbus, who’s to say that wont happen again next summer?
Perhaps the plan all along was to rebuild from scratch and compete down the road. That was all well and good except now he has nothing to show for the Brian Leetch trade giving up 4 prospects and getting less than 30 games of services from the future hall of famer. He also has filled the bottom end of the roster with players that we know have not fared well in the NHL such as Berg, Kilger but yet he has decided to keep those players anyway possibly taking roster spots away from kids who need a chance like Wellwood, Steen and Coliacovo. The only good thing JFJ has done is surround himself and the team with very good hockey people like Barry Trapp, Shawn Simpson, Craig Button and Paul Maurice. Drafting and development should be a strong point for the Leafs going forward.
But if this is the road he is taking then lets get back to the question at hand. Should the Leafs trade Mats Sundin? If the plan is to rebuild then yes. Sundin is a terrific player still and probably has a few good years left in him. He is an elite player that could put a team over the top. His value is still high and the Leafs could fetch a very decent return for his services. A rebuilding plan would probably take up to 5 years to start seeing any dividends and really Sundin does not have that kind of time. So it probably would be smart for Toronto to move him out. His move out would probably start a chain reaction with other veterans on the roster who could possibly help teams down the road during the playoff races.
Now if Sundin is moved, where could he go? There definitely would be 29 other teams that would love to get him, but of course in this new NHL, salary cap concerns are the big key here. Teams have to be able to afford him in order to think about trading for him. It would be difficult to say who could get Sundin, but a team like the Panthers with the likes of Bouwmeester, Horton or Weiss to offer up is an option. Detroit could move Pavel Datsyuk to get the Leaf captain. The Hawks are loaded with young talent like Mark Bell, Kyle Calder, Cam Barker, Brent Seabrook among others whom they could package to get Sundin.
It would be hard to say where Sundin could go, but he should be gone if the Leafs are going to go with youth. His trade could net a return that could really forward the rebuilding process and really give Toronto something they have not had in quite a while, quality young players.