It’s a long march to the trade deadline and frankly I’m a little annoyed at Kyle Dubas and the other GMs for not giving us at least a little taste of something in the past few weeks. January 2nd was the last time we saw NHL roster players moved in deals that have equally done nothing to improve the situation for any of Calgary, Buffalo, or Montreal, but that’s not really where our focus should be. I’m sure those trades will work out for everyone and more trades should happen.
Anyways. As I sit around my office, a little bored and wishing for something to happen to help pass the time, I’ve come up with my list of five players I would like the Leafs to target in trade, despite not really needing them, or really being able to use them season.
1. Julius Honka
Aw, Julius Honka. We will never forget how you were taken 14th overall over five years ago and despite not sticking in the NHL, your promise of being an offensively gifted defenseman still lingers with many of us today. My desire to believe that Julius Honka will return to North America next season on a contract that is quite afford factors in heavily in my consideration of him, as well as my belief that he could be an affordable third pairing option. At only 24 years old I’m not completely ready to write him off even though he has only played parts of three seasons for the Stars.
Perhaps I’m of the mindset that all first round draft picks are entitled to one change of scenery before completely giving up on them.
I’m not too sure what it would cost to get Honka out of Dallas, but I’m curious if it’s something in the Timashov/Bracco range of player. Moving Bracco to acquire a longshot RHD doesn’t seem like a terrible move.
2. Josh Ho-Sang
Speaking of 24 year olds who have had their trade requests go unanswered, here’s Josh Ho-Sang. At the start of the season Ho-Sang let it be known to Lou Lamoriello that he wanted to be traded and wasn’t interested in reporting to the AHL. In true Lou fashion here we are four months later and Ho-Sang hasn’t been traded and only played five games in Bridgeport, picking up 3 assists.
Ho-Sang might have the reputation of not playing well with others and from what I’ve heard he might not have too many fans within the Toronto organization either, but there is no doubt the talent is there and could be worth exploring. It would be nice to see the Leafs believe in their ability to work with him for mutual benefit.
As for what Ho-Sang would cost, well either Lou is holding out hopes for a ridiculous return or teams just simply aren’t willing to consider Ho-Sang, which seems like huge misstep.
3. Jesse Puljujarvi
Can you see the theme that is emerging here? Players wanting to be traded and weren’t. Well, I’ll have at least one more for you after this one, but of everyone on this list, Puljujarvi is my absolute favourite and the one that should have true assets given up for him.
Puljujarvi was mismanaged for years with the Oilers and his production was stunted because of it. He chose not to re-sign with them, and given that the Oilers want to believe they can still make a trade from a position of power, are still listening to Puljujarvi who won’t be eligible to play in the NHL until next season.
The talent is there and the results have been there in Finland this season, so if the Leafs were to make a deal with the Oilers, knowing they wanted to pick up a top six forward, Puljujarvi should be a name they consider as part of the return. The biggest catch may be that Puljujarvi doesn’t want to play in a high pressure Canadian market and might strongly express disapproval about being traded to Toronto.
4. Lias Andersson
It shouldn’t be surprising that Lias Andersson is the next name on this list, as he fits the same criteria as the previous three. Former first round pick that hasn’t found his footing with his current club, and has requested a change of scenery. Andersson will be riding out the season in Sweden, but would be ideal addition to the Leafs 3rd line in the future as his well rounded game, if refined, would fit in nicely with Toronto’s Swedish renaissance.
I will continue to throw Bracco’s name around as he wants out of Toronto, and there’s no doubt that New York would be his preferred destination.
5. Josh Anderson
We’ll take a break from the former 1st round picks playing in Europe and the AHL and refocus on a player who is presently sitting on the long term injured reserve. Last season Josh Anderson put up 27 goals in 82 games after hovering near the 20 goal mark in the previous three seasons. This season those numbers have dipped significantly as Josh only had 1 goal and 4 points in 26 games before he was injured in a fight. He might now be an ideal buy low candidate.
One of the hiccups for buying in on Anderson is that he’s a free agent this summer (restricted) and represented by Darren Ferris. It’s questionable that Kyle Dubas is a fan of reliving the negotiating process with him, even on this more micro-level.
What Anderson would bring to the table is a good track record of driving the play, and using his 6’3, 220 lb frame. Affordable size in the top nine for the Leafs would be a fun luxury, and one worth pursuing.
In closing, I’m part of the problem. I am a jackass who can’t get past a player being picked in the first round and I want to take chances on them all. I’m part of the problem because I believe the Leafs can restore struggling players to their previous state. I’m part of the problem that I want to see trades for the sake of trades, knowing that often the player that you’ve come to know, invested development time into, and the player has made a home for themselves in that town. I just want to be entertained. Despite knowing my flaws, I still consider these players to be interesting risks to consider, and would love to see the Leafs explore one of these options especially knowing that they have players like Bracco and Timashov wanting out.