First, I’m glad that Toronto Maple Leafs’ writers are not general managers. Right now, with defenseman TJ Brodie’s injury, I fear that some writers covering the Maple Leafs have fallen over to the dark side.
First, some seem to be panicking by playing “I told you so!” “You should have seen this coming!” Second, some are right now beating the NHL bushes for defensemen who could be had in a trade and why their teams would likely retain part of their salary. Of course, the Maple Leafs would come out on top in their trade vision. Surely, the trade would have the other team retain some of their player’s salary. Why not?
But, honestly, In what world would an NHL team help a rival by, when that rival was panicking, agreeing to retain some salary on a player the other team desperately needed? It isn’t that easy friends.
What Writers Would Have the Maple Leafs Do?
If you’re an avid reader of posts about the Maple Leafs and their “problems” on defence, as I am, the message that you’re getting is that it’s time to panic. The sky is falling sort of stuff.
Would life be better if both Jake Muzzin and Brodie were healthy and playing at the top of their games? Of course. That said, hockey injuries are oft-occurring problems for teams. Not just the Maple Leafs, but every team.
In this case, there’s no other choice but to figure out when the injuries will be healed and rehabbed. Then, the team’s job is to try to get through the injury as best it can. In the case of Muzzin, that’s later in February; even then, there’s no guarantee that Muzzin will return.
Different story for Brodie. His injury isn’t as severe. Last I read he was going to miss at least the next two games. My call is that the Maple Leafs seem to have (or should see if they have) the manpower to weather the storm. Specifically, for example, Jordie Benn has jumped in to play on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly. He’s doing well.
There Are Options in the System
Yes, the Maple Leafs have only six healthy defensemen (counting Benn) on the roster. But they also have Victor Mete, who they picked up this offseason (as they did with Benn). Furthermore, they have Mac Hollowell and Filip Kral.
Are the two Marlies’ players ready for prime time? Perhaps not, but we don’t know for certain until we try them for a period of time (at least two games). Wasn’t it a couple of seasons ago that Rasmus Sandin covered for injuries to the Maple Leafs’ defence? The sky didn’t fall then. It isn’t likely to fall now, either.
The Maple Leafs will figure it out. They’ll cover for their injuries. They’ll bring up Mete when needed; or, Hollowell or Kral. Been done before and the team won. The kids have to get game-action sometime.
The Worst Response Is Panic
Just don’t panic. Maple Leafs’ writers are jumping on the “it’s time for a trade” bandwagon. But, this isn’t trading from a position of power. Who would you dump from the team for what defenseman? Would making that trade now help the team in the long run?
A trade makes no sense. Not this early in the season.
That was true this past off-season, as well. What trade was available? And, would it have improved the team? Currently, there are a number of Maple Leafs’ writers who will tell you all the defensemen who (a) could have been had prior to the regular season, (b) might be had now; or, (c) could possibly be had at the trade deadline.
Maybe the Anaheim Ducks will want to move John Klingberg’s $7 million salary then. By the way, Benn has the same number of goals as Klingberg. But he could come as a rental for Nick Robertson, Pierre Engvall, and Alex Kerfoot at the trade deadline. That would make sense, right?
I’m not saying no to any trade-deadline trade; but, by that time Brodie will be healed from this injury. Maybe And, last season, Mark Giordano was had in a trade. He’s turned out nicely.
No Trades from a Position of Panic
For those writers who are demanding a trade now, who’s headed out? Will they bring a good return? And, as it always has to be asked, will the trade really improve the team?
I’m not sure a trade in the offseason would have improved the team either. I’m sure the team looked but didn’t find anything that would have – in their minds – improved the team.
I actually read a writer who said point-blank that the Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas was unwilling to make moves to help the team. If that’s true and Dubas isn’t trying to improve the team, fire him now.
Probably more to the point is that Dubas didn’t make the trade the writer would have approved of or wanted. But, agree or don’t agree with what the boss does. Still, from my perspective, that’s a matter of pay grade.
What to Do Right Now?
Now is not a time for the Maple Leafs to panic and make a desperate trade. These, as far as I can see, are not desperate times. There are defensemen in the system who can jump in. Benn is jumping in now; Mete is waiting; Kral and Hollowell would love a chance, too.
Some people have critiqued Mete because he’s had opportunities and couldn’t earn a full-time job. Still, Mete has played five games and is a plus-3. During the summer, writers critiqued Benn’s signing, but he’s doing OK as a stop-gap measure.
Nope. Now is NOT the time to panic. I have a feeling the team can make it until Brodie returns.