It’s not really shocking to say that a team that finished in the lottery needs pretty much everything. They have some pieces. But there is no irreplaceable player on the team. More than talent though is the need for the right workethic and an attitude that goes beyond truculent.
Goaltending is a major concern. None of the men who wandered through the crease for the Maple Leafs put up anything like a respectable set of stats. This isn’t just their problem. But it speaks to a lack of quality scouting historically at this position. I don’t however see Burke picking a goaltender in the first round.
At forward a center is never a bad choice, but I don’t think the team has given up on Kadri quite yet. There are a couple wingers playing for the Marlies who might make the jump this year, assuming the season is played. But none of them possess the attitude needed. This team needs never-stops-going leader like the Avalanche picked in Landeskog who contributes in all areas. The quiet vocal leader won’t cut it with a team that has talentbut lacks drive. Ideally they’d get two or three of the on ice leader types in this draft. For pure ability and attitude if they are on the board I pick either Forsberg or Dumba. Forsberg will probably crack the lineup sooner, he’s a forward, larger, and has had some success internationally.
There’s a lot to be said for getting rid of problems before they infect your entire locker room. There is also much to be said for giving a player a second chance in a place where they will have a defined role and are in a different enough environment to make things a clean break from anything that might have contributed to problems in the old environment. Arguably we’ve seen proof of that with the dry island boys raising the cup this year with the Los Angeles Kings.
Two teams, not division rivals have each had reported off ice issues with young talented players over the two last year. One it’s simply minor nonsense that will hopefully end naturally with a bit more maturity. The other has taken a bit too much to partying and in a city where it’s probably easier to find a party than a police officer, that can be an issue. I speak of course of the two Kane’s.
The two players make similar contributions on the score sheet. Both have hit 30 goals once. Both play a good portion on the powerplay. Both players are capable of ruining an opponents whole night with a single shift. Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks had that memorable disappearing puck goal to secure the Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks not long ago. Evander Kane has beenthe bright spot offensively for the Winnipeg Jets.
Both players are still quite young, but have some solid NHL experience. Patrick would add playoff experience to a club in desperate need for it. He’d also be reunited with former teammate Dustin Byfugelin, the two would likely find some chemistry on the powerplay and shift a bit more of the burden from Wheeler, Ladd and Little. The additional speed of the former London Knight and US National Development Team member would in no way hurt.
Evander would bring a toughness much like the man he was named for to the Windy City. A double fistful of grit and thirty goal scoring ability added to the top six of the Chicago Blackhawks might be just the thing to shake them from the apathy40 that has hung over the team since winning the cup. The hits, the fights, and the younger (slightly), hungrier, and larger frame would take some of the burden of physicality off the quite capable shoulders of Jonathan Toews.
It’s quite likely if Jets and Blackhawks were to make this swap the latter would gain about three million in cap space allowing them to go after a legitimate second line center. The shakeup can only help the 26th ranked powerplay. The Jets are getting cost security, playoff experience, a legitimate name to market with, arguably they even gain a some leverage for signing hometown boy Jonathan Toews when he hits UFA status after the 2014-15 season.
Do I think this is a likely trade? Probably not. Could it benefit both teams and both players? Yes. Am I going to get really incredibly bored this off season if something interesting doesn’t happen? Yes.