Tricky Choices, But Good Ones
What a fascinating choice, presuming it actually exists.
On one hand, you have John Tavares.
On the other, you have two Schenns.
Which would you prefer, Leaf Nation?
There are, quite obviously, many scenarios that exist in between for Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs, but these seem to be the two that would most define the club going forward.
|THE CANADIAN PRESS|
|Luke Schenn is a developing stud on the back end.|
If Burke were willing to sacrifice Luke Schenn, there’s the belief he could get the No. 2 pick in tomorrow’s NHL entry draft and quite possibly the right to draft Tavares, presuming the New York Islanders play along.
(For those who keep suggesting the Isles should for some reason or another tell the hockey world who they’ll be taking first overall, this is why they should not. If the Leafs, for example, were able to get to No. 2, wouldn’t it be worth it for Isles GM Garth Snow to hold up Toronto for a little something extra if he were willing to take Victor Hedman at No. 1? Of course it would.)
So while the deal would also involve the Leafs’ pick, No. 7, and maybe something else as well, the bottom line would be Schenn for Tavares.
The likelihood is that Tavares will be the superior NHL player, certainly in terms of offensive output.
Burke wouldn’t necessarily disagree. What he would argue, however, is that Schenn has qualities of leadership and defensive presence that every good team needs, and that sacrificing one top prospect for another just puts the club back on the “hamster on a wheel” process, always making one step back to make one forward and never making actual progress.
He understands the specific short- and long-term implications. As part of the process of landing the Sedins for Vancouver, he gave up Bryan McCabe, who at that time was a top-notch, hard-nosed blueline prospect and, to be fair, developed into a quality NHL defenceman with significant offensive ability.
The Leafs gave up first, second and third round picks for the right to draft Schenn last year, so they’ve already made a significant investment. Even though he didn’t make that deal – and I doubt would have made that deal – that’s where Burke’s “hamster on a wheel” philosophy comes in.
Will the Leafs one day regret not moving Schenn to get Tavares? Maybe.
Then again, there’s also a sweet deal here for Tampa. If I’m Brian Lawton, I would surely look seriously at a deal that gave me Tomas Kaberle or Pavel Kubina, Mikhail Grabovski and the Leafs No. 7 pick (potentially defenceman Jared Cowan, which is what Tampa needs).
Most important, however, Lawton should insist on getting the Leafs’ No. 1 pick next year. That could be a lottery pick and possibly even a top three selection, and that would be the kind of Sam Pollock-like move that could really set up the Lightning down the road.
But let’s say Burke won’t deal Schenn and Tampa’s not interested in a deal with Toronto.
Then position B for Burke has to be the double Schenn.
There are those who see Brayden Schenn as a Mike Richards-type player, and this would be an acquisition that would surely grab the attention of the city after last season in which Burke was personally offended by the way many simply yawned as the Leafs once again missed post-season play.
Let’s face it. Burke didn’t come to Toronto to be just another sports executive in town. He’s wants to be the Big Kahuna, and, let’s face it, Bryan Colangelo and J.P. Ricciardi haven’t set the bar particularly high.
So, in the name of scientific research, I asked my 10-year-old son, a true Leaf fan, whether he’d rather have the Leafs pick up Tavares or end up with two Schenns.
“Is Braydon Schenn as good as Luke Schenn?” was his first question. Maybe, was the answer.
Hmmm. “Then I would trade for John Tavares,” was his analysis.
Well, he and I will have to disagree. As I’ve been saying for some time, this shapes up as a draft so deep that the ideal result for the Leafs would not be to end up with Hedman or Tavares, but to get two top prospects.
They need numbers as well as talent. So if they could get Brayden Schenn and then Zack Kassian somewhere between No. 10 and No. 20, that would be a good day. Or if they could land Dmitry Kulikov – Burke has already said he’s a Canadian in a Russian’s body – and Scott Glennie, that would be progress.
So we’ll see. The sense is this is going right down to the wire, and Burke will be going hard tonight and right up to draft time tomorrow night. For the second straight draft, the Leafs are a team trying to make something big happen.