Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Burke's New Trade Bait

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 29:  Carl Gunnarsson #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defends as Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck during NHL game action October 29, 2011 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Brad White/Getty Images
Mark ColvinCorrespondent INovember 14, 2011

The Toronto Maple Leafs have enjoyed success in the beginning to their season. With a stronger team then ever, Brian Burke is looking to push his team into the NHL playoffs. 

The place where the Leafs have the most depth, and that now has become a showcase of sorts, is on defense. With the depth, the team can stand to loose some of it, to gain in other areas of weakness.  

We have a lot of NHL calibre defensemen. The team knows it, the league knows it. There are plenty of guys suitable for trades. The test will be how Brian Burke chooses to trade them and who he decides to ship out.

The list looks like this: Phanuef, Schenn, Liles, Gunnarsson, Komisarek, Gardiner, Franson, Aulie. Then you have the cusp NHLers in: Lashoff, Blacker and Finger. 

Who to keep?

Let's look at chemistry and preferred sides.

Players who prefer the Right: Phanuef, Schenn, Komisarek, Franson

Players who prefer the Left: Gunnarsson, Liles, Gardiner, Aulie

Gardiner pushed Aulie to the AHL, and Komisarek is pushing Franson to the bench, unless Franson plays on the Left, where he hasn't been successful. You have four bodies for each side, so moving someone is pretty open. The depth is there.

The balance between attacking and defense needs to be reached, as well as, strength and speed, leadership and potential. All are factor. 

This gives the team leverage, but you wouldn't want to trade guys who are a large part of the great start. Phanuef is clearly not up for sale. Maybe you put Franson in a deal, as he hasn't been playing much and the Leafs are still doing well. Komisarek, Gunnarsson and Aulie are also worth something on the market and could be considered.

Packaging one of these NHL defensemen with a few other pieces could bring in a good return, as teams are always looking to shore up the back. You can never have enough defensemen.

Which then seems counter-intuitive. Are the leafs better off having too many defensemen? Having players ready to step up if injuries occur and always having a strong back unit. That's never a bad thing. But does it get to a point where team morale is affected because quality players are upset at sitting in the stands? Lots of things to juggle.

Does Burke use this new trade bait? Or does he hold onto it and base the team off of a strong, deep defensive unit?

What are your thoughts? 

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