The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a place where they are going to have to blow things up.
This presents a huge opportunity for teams that are in a position to pick the carcass.
Teams that have a huge amount of cap space AND a deep prospect pool are likely already smacking their lips at the prospect of “helping” the Leafs with their rebuild.
I would imagine the Leafs will be looking for young players and draft picks to get things started and any team that has an abundance of both should be able to help themselves to the Leafs’ roster.
Not surprisingly, there are only a few teams that I would consider to be in that position.
The Leafs will likely move one of Jake Gardiner or Cody Franson.
They will likely explore trade options for Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson, among others.
I don’t think they will actively shop Phil Kessel but if a team is prepared to offer up a stupendous package for one of the best goal scorers in the league, I think Brendan Shanahan would entertain it.
The team, and the manager, most acutely poised to take advantage of the Leafs, is the Calgary Flames and Brian Burke.
The Flames will have the most cap space in the offseason, have one of the deepest prospect pools in the league and the two teams have a long, long history of making deals with one another.
I can’t imagine the Flames would want Phaneuf back but I think they would look at every other Leafs roster player under the right conditions.
Let’s be clear here. The Flames have the revenue base and the cap space to relieve the Leafs of bad contracts if the price for doing business benefits them enough.
It’s very difficult to suss out how these deals will come about at the trade deadline and in the offseason but it wouldn’t surprise me if Phil Kessel, David Clarkson, Tyler Bozak and Cody Franson/Jake Gardiner were on the Flames roster next season.
Pierre LeBrun (one of the most tuned in NHL insiders) was on the radio today saying he expects the Leafs and Oilers will be the two teams that that will swing blockbuster trades in the next few months.
Brace yourself laddie!