Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Matt Stajan?! Are You Kidding Me?!

What's not surprising about the Toronto Maple Leafs season through the first 28 games is their record. Sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference with 26 points through 28 games shouldn't be all that shocking; even for those fans who believed the Leafs would be so horrible they'd be in the running for the 1st overall draft pick in 2009. What is surprising, however, is that Matt Stajan is leading the Leafs with 23 points (7g, 16a). Granted, with power play time and two big, strong wingers by his side, there are a lot of players in the NHL who could produce at slightly under a point per game. What really baffles me is how Stajan can be so weak on the puck, have no real physical presence on the ice, and yet Ron Wilson continues to use him in key situations.
Credit should be given where credit is due. Matt Stajan is in fact leading the Leafs in points. Now, do I believe that this trend will continue throughout the season? Absolutely not. But, at the moment, he should receive at least some praise.

Which brings me to the entire point of this blog. For a long time I have been hoping the Leafs would deal away Stajan (not to mention a few other members of the current roster) and with Brian Burke's impending roster upheaval, now could be as good a time as any. Stajan is by no means a number 1 centre in the NHL but when you produce just under a point per game there are those teams who are so disillusioned to believe that Stajan would be a huge asset for them. I really think that Stajan's stake league wide has no where to go but down from this point. To me it's time that the Leafs capitalized on the hype that surrounds one of their younger players.

Alexander Steen is the perfect example of what not to do. This kid had such potential and came up in a number of trade rumours but the Leafs were reluctant to move him. His stock eventually plumeted and they had to package him with Carlo Colaiacovo in order to get Lee Stempniak. I by no means am ripping Stempniak, but I think they could have fetched more for Steen had they traded him at the peak of the league's interest. I feel as though, at the moment, we have reached the plateau of interest in Stajan (or at least are on the cusp of reaching it).

Right now he has the points to support such a claim; he's also playing in all the right situations, has a good face/off percentage and is a solid leader. Not that I think the Leafs can expect a monster return from a Matt Stajan trade but I definitely think it would be a good starting block to Burke's inevitable roster shift.

The Maple Leafs should be content with their current record but that shouldn't stop Burke from putting a stamp on this roster. They should be accentuating players like Nik Antropov, Alexei Grabovski, Niklas Hagmen, Luke Schenn, Anton Stralman and Nikoli Kulemin (among others) by trading away such players as Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Jason Blake to further compliment them.

Don't get me wrong, I sincerely doubt that Burke will be able to unload Jason Blake on anybody. Even if Mike Milbury was still running the New York Islanders I would still believe the Leafs are stuck with this bonehead of a contract. He'll continue to take ice time away from younger, deserving players until his contract expires. But, again, the point of this blog was to illustrate why I think Stajan should be moved. Even though I am sure some people will disagree, I would even go so far as to move Kaberle to one of the teams he has supposedly added to a list of teams he'd agree to be moved to. Maybe I'm hoping for too much. Let's just start by capitalizing on Stajan's value and in turn creating that much more opportunity for the growth and development of the young players that truly are the future of the Maple Leafs.

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1 comment:

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