Skip to main content

Maple Leafs Watch: Who to trade and who to keep

Last week, I suggested the Maple Leafs should trade star blueliner Tomas Kaberle if they want to speed up the rebuilding of the franchise. But Kaberle isn’t the only sole member of the current roster who should be shipped out.

In fact, with 10 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer, Toronto GM Brian Burke will face a slew of difficult decisions on who to keep past the March 3 trade deadline. Here’s one soul’s opinion on what the Leafs ought to do with their prominent pending free agents:

Alexei Ponikarovsky:
He’s second on the team in goals and could set a new personal best in that regard this season. But he’s also one of Toronto’s streakiest players – he’s gone goalless in at least four straight games on four different occasions this season – and other than Kaberle, he could get the best return of any Leaf.


Matt Stajan:
Stajan also is streaky – he had a 10-game scoreless skid and a 12-gamer before that – and simply isn’t the front-line center team management hoped he’d become. Time to cut ties. TRADE HIM OR KEEP HIM? Trade him.

Lee Stempniak:
One of the Leafs’ nicest guys, Stempniak takes heat mainly for his whopping $3.5 million annual salary. If Burke could re-sign him for a million or two less than that, that would be reason to keep him. But Stempniak could also help a playoff team’s scoring depth. TRADE HIM OR KEEP HIM? Keep him, but only if the price is right.

Wayne Primeau:
He’ll be 34 next year, but Primeau is a pro’s pro and won’t be expensive to re-sign. If Burke is clearing out many of the worker bee types from the roster, Primeau is one he should retain. TRADE HIM OR KEEP HIM? Keep him.

Vesa Toskala:
What, you think there’s any hope the Leafs are keeping the inconsistent, injury-prone Toskala? Silly rabbit. TRADE HIM OR KEEP HIM? Did you miss the sarcasm in my earlier question? Trade him – if you can sucker another team into taking him.

This column also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


Mathew Barzal

Screen Shots: Mathew Barzal, Jason Robertson and the NHL in Newfoundland

Adam Proteau digs into Mat Barzal's extension with the Islanders, the Jason Robertson contract stalemate in Dallas and Thursday's NHL pre-season game in Newfoundland.

NHL 23 Cover

Marie-Philip Poulin and Amanda Kessel Reflect on Women's Hockey in NHL 23

NHL 23 will let users create mixed-gender teams in Hockey Ultimate Team for the first time. Hockey stars Marie-Philip Poulin and Amanda Kessel say the representation is significant.

Pavol Regenda

Clarke, Vilardi, Regenda Get Noticed in the Kings-Ducks Pre-Season Mini-Series

Prospects, new acquisitions and familiar faces are making the most of the three-game series between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.