Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Leafs certainly tried to get suitors for their players, especially in the case of captain Dion Phaneuf, above. However, many of the offers were problematic for Toronto.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Many wanted carnage. They wanted to see the floundering Toronto Maple Leafs roster – which has won just six times in the past 32 games – punished and plundered, torn to the foundation in a cathartic sign that the team would torment fans no more.

What they got was a sixth-round pick and a warm body for Olli Jokinen. And they got a fifth-round pick for taking Eric Brewer's unwanted contract off Anaheim's hands.

The NHL trade deadline was no therapy session for beleaguered Leafs fans. When this team takes the ice on Tuesday night in Florida with 19 games left in the season, Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak will all be there.

Story continues below advertisement

The team will quite possibly lose again and again until the bloodshed is over with Game 82.

The deadline is rarely a solution for a team in sell mode. It's March, the top teams have considerable salary committed and no one who's hoping to make a Cup run wants to shuttle anything really useful out the door.

The Leafs certainly tried to get several suitors – especially in the case of Phaneuf – but many of the offers coming the other way had warts.

Teams would likely have taken Phaneuf, for example, but only if Toronto retained salary and took back a problem contract in return. It would have been a deal that hurt the Leafs as much as helped, in other words, and there was absolutely no reason to make it under the circumstances.

Not yet, anyway.

Things may appear desperate for the Leafs given their slide nearly into the NHL's basement, but the reality is there wasn't desperation to do anything by 3 p.m. on March 2. Their season is already done, and all that's left to determine in the next month is how good their position in the draft lottery will be.

When they start moving out major pieces – in March or June or midway through next season – doesn't matter: There should be a very high priority placed on not making deals that handicap them in the future.

Story continues below advertisement

That means Toronto should retain salary only if it's dead money in the next two or three years, and if that dead money facilitates a good return. (The Coyotes pulled that off with the Keith Yandle trade on Sunday and netted a very good prospect – Anthony Duclair – as a result. That makes sense, especially given Arizona will hardly miss the cap space.)

It also means Toronto has to get value coming back the other way, not just more veteran discards such as Zach Sill and Joakim Lindstrom, two of the newest Leafs. And that won't be easy.

According to executives around the league, the Leafs problem is that many of their assets have been degraded the past couple seasons, so they are viewed as overpriced in terms of their cap hit. There are questions around Lupul's health, Phaneuf's defensive play, Bozak's offensive game without Kessel and Kessel's tough season.

Many teams don't feel they can play these players as high in the lineup as they are slotted in Toronto.

That said, from a macro perspective, the Leafs managers have had a solid few weeks. They unloaded almost all of this season's rentals for a reasonable return – nearly a full draft worth of picks (a first-, second-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-rounder) and prospect Brendan Leipsic. And getting rid of David Clarkson's millstone deal was an enormous coup in terms of creating future flexibility.

They also added a couple young defencemen – Tim Erixon and T.J. Brennan – for a late-season tryout essentially for free. (Erixon has bounced around a lot and there are questions about his work ethic, but he is the second-youngest player on the roster after Morgan Rielly. Why not give him a chance to show why he was a first-round pick?)

Story continues below advertisement

Most important of all, the Leafs haven't made any major mistakes.

That will get harder to achieve as they get into the tougher calls this summer, when other teams keep trying to throw a team at the bottom another anchor. But making smart decisions is the only road to respectability here, and president Brendan Shanahan hasn't taken a detour yet.

The smart call on this day was to stand pat and wait for when they can potentially get more for what they have to sell.

It's not carnage, but it'll do for now.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies