P-A Parenteau is winning Toronto’s trade deadline derby

The veteran winger was one of a number of players brought in by the Maple Leafs this season on short-term deals and with the Buds approaching the deadline, moves will be made. Parenteau has put himself in a nice position thanks to his scoring punch.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs put together their first-ever roster under new GM Lou Lamoriello, the tea leaves were pretty easy to read: hot young prospects such as William Nylander and Mitch Marner would not be rushed up to the majors, but a cohort of veteran free agents would get a chance to make a mark.

Enter P-A Parenteau, Michael Grabner, Shawn Matthias and Brad Boyes. Those vets all came on short-term deals that would easily be flippable at the trade deadline and bring more futures in return, hypothetically.

So here we are, with less than a month to go before the deadline and very little movement in the market (blame Winnipeg). But rest assured, the logjam will be broken and for Toronto, that will mean dispersing some of the aforementioned vets to playoff contenders. The top name to focus on is Parenteau.

The veteran winger has been one of the most dangerous players on the team this season, his 12 goals through 50 games ranking third on the squad. Parenteau also came to the rescue last night against New Jersey, scoring on a deft wrister in the shootout to earn the Leafs the extra point.

“I feel really confident on the ice – thanks to my centerman,” Parenteau said, gesturing to Tyler Bozak. “We’ve got a good group of guys and that really helped.”

Indeed, the vibe around the Leafs seems different this year. In past campaigns when things weren’t going well, there was a cloudy cynicism, particularly when the trade deadline approached. One year, players were publicly referring to themselves as “meat,” no more than faceless bodies to be moved at management’s whim.

New coach Mike Babcock has made a big impact, keeping things positive even when the prior evening’s scoreboard may have indicated otherwise.

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“We had a couple of rough stretches that have cost us in the standings, but for the most part we’ve been playing good hockey,” Parenteau said. “That’s why we’re staying positive. We just have to avoid those stretches where we lose five in a row. Our record should be better.”

It’s not better, of course, and that’s OK. This is not a short-term team and should the Maple Leafs snag a top-three pick in the draft this summer, the plan will have worked. This year’s contenders will come sniffing around soon, however, and Parenteau will be the top name on the list.

Not only does the Quebec native have a nice scoring touch to his game, but his $1.5 million salary is very easy to swallow at this time of year, particularly since a lot of contenders have cap space issues. Grabner can kill penalties, but also makes twice as much as Parenteau and doesn’t have the offense.

So for a team in need of depth scoring, Parenteau is a great fit. I’m hearing that Washington is very interested, while I’m sure other teams will jump in the mix once the dominoes start to fall across the league. Not that Parenteau wants to leave Toronto, but he understands the business.

“You start thinking about it a little bit, especially when you have a family,” he said. “But I said at the start that I would take the season game by game and try not to think ahead – and I’m going to keep this attitude. We’ll see what the future brings, but I’d love to stay here.”