Should Toronto target St. Louis?

Given the improved play of the Maple Leafs recently, speculation has already started that Toronto may try to acquire a high impact player to help boost their post season run.
In his recent column on, Al Strachan speculates that the Leafs may take a run at a star forward, such as Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis.

It is well known that Lightning GM Jay Feaster will try to move one of his three high-priced players (Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier) if the team’s performance doesn’t improve in the next month or so.

In one possible scenario, Strachan speculates that the Leafs could send a high-priced defenseman like Pavel Kubina to the minors and make a deal with Tampa to acquire St. Louis. In that scenario, Kubina’s salary wouldn’t count against the cap. Instead, it would be replaced by St. Louis’ salary, which is roughly the same.

Strachan suspects that the Leafs would have to give up a prospect or two for St. Louis, but they wouldn’t have to part with much because this is not a talent-for-talent deal. Such a deal is intended ensure that Tampa meets a self-imposed budget.

Granted, the Leafs would still have to pay Kubina, but to rich teams like Toronto, that’s cab fare.

While this move would be unfair to Kubina, Strachan points out that other GMs have made lots of moves over the years that were unfair to players (e.g., Alexander Mogilny, Darius Kasparaitis, etc).

My view

I have mixed feelings about this one.


On the one hand, this move would significantly improve the Leafs. There’s no denying that St. Louis is a marquee player, and his speed and skill would be a perfect complement to Sundin or Antropov.

And to those who say that the Leafs already have a potent offense, I disagree. As Saturday’s game against Boston showed, the Leafs offense can be shut down quite easily when facing a disciplined opponent.

The Leafs, with their current roster, lack the necessary skill up front to play through tight checking and generate quality scoring chances. The goals for stats are somewhat misleading in my opinion.


Having said that, there is also a huge downside to making this move, which is largely understated by Strachan.

Firstly, let’s not kid ourselves, Feaster is not just going to give away St. Louis. He’s going to be asking for probably 2 of Toronto’s key younger players, like Steen, Stajan, Stralman, or Tlusty. Moreover, don’t think for a minute that the Leafs would be the only team interested in St. Louis. That alone would drive up the asking price.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, this move would have an insidious effect on the Leafs as an organization. Just imagine what other players around the league are going to be saying about the Leafs if they send a capable player like Kubina down to the minors.

If you’re an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and you know the Leafs treat their players like garbage, would you sign a contract with Toronto or would you seek employment elsewhere? Indeed, this move would tarnish the Leafs’ reputation for many years to come. They will find it almost impossible to lure any top notch free agents in the future. The long term drawbacks would be enormous.

And plus there’s the issue of whether the Leafs should even be buyers this year. Given that a playoff position is precarious and that rebuilding will be inevitable sonner or later, the Leafs may best be advised to keep the team they have, and perhaps start dumping veterans around the trade deadline.

Therefore, a move to acquire a player like St. Louis should only be pursued if the Leafs can trade McCabe or Kubina to free up salary (which is highly unlikely) AND if the asking price by Tampa Bay is not steep (also unlikely). Otherwise, I’d stay put.

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25 Responses to Should Toronto target St. Louis?

  1. mojo19 says:

    I hear what you’re saying about discouraging future UFA’s by sending Kubina to the minors. Look at Rafalski bolting out of New Jersey along with Scott Gomez. Gomez was replaced by overpaying Zubrus (I’m convinced no other teams would match the price Jersey gave him, $5.5 mil, correct me if I’m wrong)

    I also wonder what kind of reputation the Penguins are getting after benching veteran Sydor, limiting Roberts’ ice time and waiving/demoting Mark Recchi.

    And I surely hope the Leafs wouldn’t do something stupid like trade Tlusty, Stralman and a pick for St.Louis, as good as Marty is, this is one of those moves that you’d look at in a few years and say “why did they trade youth when they weren’t contenders?”

    If we could get St.Louis somehow without dealing away promising guys like Stralman I say do it, but I just can’t come up with that scenario so I say DONT DO IT!!!

  2. leafy says:

    Completely agree Mojo.  It makes me very nervous when I hear rumors like this one.  And I can't believe Al Strachan doesn't see the huge downside to this move.

    Just think for a minute how good Brad Boyes would look in a Leaf uniform right about now.  The Owen Nolan trade certainly looked good in 2003, but not so much today.

  3. jpmac says:

    Really can't see it happening.  If they were to trade any of the big three, I think they would want goaltending back, and Toronto isn't about to trade Toskala, and I think we can agree that they would accept Raycroft.

    If it turns out they will take young position players, chances are it would cost two young players who are going to be able to step in and play and probably a draft pick. 

    Too much for Toronto to give up when you look at their shallow prospect pool for top end players, and their lack of draft picks.

  4. KingCanada says:

    Zubrus is making 3.4 every year from 2007-2013 which IMO is still overpaying.

  5. KingCanada says:

    Impossible, wont happen, dont worry guys this is just speculation and WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    First of all teams dont just send players down to the AHL who can play.  NHL owners are in the business of making money.  Paying the extra 5 million dollars for the remainder of Kubina's contract is not in management's books unless he is playing in the NHL.  Yes Mogilny, Malakov, Kasparitus were all sent to the minors but this was because they COULD NOT keep up with current NHL play (they were too old or too out of shape).  Kubina can play, therefor management will not waste its money by sending him to the minors.

    Secondly Toronto will not be able to match any offer Dallas comes up with because Toronto does not have Marty Turco to dangle.  Tampa Bay needs and has needed goaltending help ever since the Bhulin wall left TB.  There is NO WAY Feaster will consider trading one of his big 3 without getting a legitimate goalie in return.  JFJ will not move Toskala since we al know how much Leaf nation hates Raycroft and JFJ is already on thin ice with them.

    And last of all, this is more my personal opinion, I dont believe the Leafs should be trading for anyone whether they are kicking ass or being shown a boot to their asses.  This franchise has traded away youth and draft picks for FAR TOO LONG and it is about time it starts hanging onto them.  Especially considering the fact that the face of the franchise will hang up his skates soon so the Leafs will need someone to replace him.  The more youngsters and draft picks we amass the better our chances are to get a young impact player or players.

    Sundin has been a class act for the leafs for years but that DOES NOT justify handcuffing your team for years to come only to give our old captain a last chance or two at a playing deep into the playoffs.  Even if the leafs qualify for the playoffs (with an improved roster) they will get ousted in the 1st or second round no matter what so trading for players right now is the worst possible scenario JFJ can do for the franchise.


  6. blackdog says:

    How about a 3 way deal , possibly 4 .

    Kaberle to SJ for 2 First Rounders & a 2nd.

    St. Louis to Toronto for a Ist & 2nd

    Tampa has 1st & 2nd to go after a Goaltender- Huet maybe

    S.J. could trade Marleau to get under cap

    The idea of sending Kubina to minors makes no sense. In the game against Boston he was plus 1 & made tape to tape passes including assist on Blakes goal. He plays with an edge & has a great point shot.

  7. 40grulingyears says:

    good post, it would be nice to have a payer like st.louis. Imagine him on a line with wellwood and blake. wowsers the 5'5" line, but they could all dangle. But i ust dont see it happening unfortunately

  8. mojo19 says:

    Hmmm… actually that doesn't seem too bad but yeah, Zubrus is nothing special. But my point was that New Jersey really downgraded imo this offseason. Although they're 9-0-1 in their last 10 so what do I know.

  9. jarcpitre says:

    I was just on the FTP site, which is the fourth period rumor site and it says that the Leafs have inquired about Marleau. Do you think Marleau would be a good fit for the Leafs, I know he has a huge contract, so unless they take McCabe which would be stupid on their part then I wouldn't take Marleau. I believe the Leafs really messed up by not signing Peca, he's a stud in Columbus and still plays against the top lines and kills penalties. I'm surprised that not too many Leaf fans have mentioned anything about Peca.

  10. jarcpitre says:

    Sounds good to me, but I can't belive people want to get rid of Kubina, he's been their best D-man so far this year.

  11. 40grulingyears says:

    Peca was a huge penalty killer, and really liked him as a leaf. Im not sure how much his contract is now but i think it was between him or Stajan, and stajan was cheeper. But your right and we could really use him on the PK

  12. leafy says:

    Good point.  Back in July I wrote, not one, but TWO articles, arguing that the Leafs need to dump Raycroft for pretty much anything, to free up salary to sign Peca.  I got called everything, from idiot to moron to imbecile, etc.  What can you do?

  13. leafy says:

    Yeah that would probably be the most potent small line in hockey history.

  14. leafy says:

    I'm not sure I like the idea of trading Kaberle, but it's true that St. Louis would add a potent scoring punch.

    Agreed on Kubina.  The Leafs would look like fools if they sent him down, not to mention they'd seriously tarnish their image as an organization in the eyes of other players around the league.

  15. leafy says:

    Yes excellent points throughout.  Sending Kubina down would make the Leafs a laughing stock around the league, and they don't exactly have what Tampa wants except for Toskala.  Time to start keeping our quality youngsters instead of trading them for quick fixes.

  16. leafy says:

    Clearly Strachan is guilty of wishful thinking on this one.

  17. 40grulingyears says:

    Ya kubina has improved his game alot from last year, he is playing with an edge and wants to take a good chuck of minutes. I think he fits best with Kaberle, they have some chemistry. As for defensemen stats:

    Kaberle 19 pts, 5g 14 ast. +2
    McCabe 12 pts, 4g, 8 ast. -5
    Kubina 12 pts, 1 g, 11 ast. +7

    Hes pretty much playing up to standard, hes a great +5, has a good shot and can play big minutes. its just his salary that frustrates fans, but its not really his fault, his manager put the number out there and JFJ fell for it.

  18. lukeleim says:

    why trade Kubina? he's been our best defenseman this year so far. St. Louis is overrated. He's playing with the best player in the league right now.

  19. leafy says:

    To be fair, St. Louis is still an excellent player, even if he's playing with Vinny.

    But I still wouldn't make this move.  Why punish Kubina if he's playing well?  Makes no sense.

  20. medcoffee says:

    the leafs need to stick to one agenda, don't trade away any of there young talent.  keep the young players they have and let them develop properly.  trading steen, wellwood, stajan, kaberle etc. is not going to help them for the future. 

  21. hemsky79 says:

    toronto would never trade kaberle and does san jose even have 2 1st rounders?

  22. ChrisGoalie39 says:

    Haha, St. Louis to the Leafs. Good one 😛

    First of all, the Lightning's GM is only willing to trade one of the big three if a NUMBER ONE goalie is involved. Raycroft is not an option for this GM and as much as you Leafs' fans might consider trading Toskala, you will be blaming Fergy for making the trade if the Leafs started doing worse then currently are on defense. (GA)

    Second, Feaster has allegedly been talking trades with the Dallas GM which would send St. Louis to Dallas for Marty Turco and obviously throw some draft picks and other players in there somewhere. But, apparently the Dallas GM has no intentions of moving veteran netminder Marty Turco.

    This could turn his eyes to the Habs, who have 3 starting goalies. With Huet playing pretty steady (7-6-3 .926 Sv% 2.35GAA), Price stepping up to the plate (7-5-2 .906 Sv% 2.94GAA) and Halak having proved himself as a number 1 last year as well, ending the season with a 10-6-0 record, a .906Sv% and a 2.89GAA. Three goalies with stats like that and with Huet's contract expiring at the end of this season, this could mean Huet is on the move for on of the big three.


  23. ChrisGoalie39 says:

    Many Points why this wouldn't work:

    -SJ doesn't need to get under cap and JUST re-signed Marleau… NOT going to trade him.
    -Tampa is not going to take a 1st and 2nd for St. Louis because they want a goalie.

      I know, I know…. you said Tampa would then have 1st and 2nd to get Huet, but think realistically, a GM will never make a trade to get picks, just to trade those away for a goalie. You know why? Because first of all, Gainey will never trade Huey for PICKS, gimme a break. And a GM will never take a chance in that way, he'll most-likely try to do it all in one trade…

      You know what I mean? (I hope)

      Instead of trading St. Louis for picks to trade the picks for Huet, he's rather do it more directly like trading St. Louis for Huet. (Not saying that would happen, unless there some other players in there like Ryder or Kovy)

    -Last, I dunno about trading Kaberle, that would weaken the Leafs D EVEN MORE, hehe!

  24. Rock says:

    I like St.Louis but If the leafs get gold they need to trade gold therefore I would take a stab at Torres and Stoll from Edmonton and then perhaps throw in a Steen with someone else but not Stajan.

  25. Rock says:

    I think Peca is not missed because Stajan has really developed into an all around player with and without the puck. Marleau if they can convince him to give us his NTR clause would be an excellent fit in T.O. Good Hands! I don't know how much autinomy Ferguson is going to have in a major trade for the rest of this year. Leafs have to win another 5/6 with Toskala and Bell shining on to make Fergy's trade look good. He should unload Raycroft one way or another to free up cap room.

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