The longer the Maple Leafs struggle, the more it becomes clear: they’ve got to sacrifice their depth in goal in a trade to improve their blue-line.
This isn’t to say Leafs GM Dave Nonis erred in his off-season moves. Toronto wanted an upgrade on the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens — and former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier was a smart bet in that regard.
But with Toronto having posted a 4-6-3 record in November, the early season solid start has evaporated and led to desperate times. You know what desperate times calls for, right?
Although it’s never a smart idea to trade from a place of desperation, the trick for Nonis and company will be to find another team desperate for goaltending.
That team could be the Columbus Blue Jackets, who just found out their No. 1 netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be out for at least the next month with a groin injury. Or it could be the New York Islanders — that is, if that team’s brain trust finally has awoken to reality and will be open to a deal. Or maybe that team is the Anaheim Ducks, who have been linked to a deal for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller despite already employing Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth.
At this stage, it doesn’t matter which Leafs’ goalie is traded. Reimer and Bernier have similar individual statistics and are both 25 years old. And if Bernier will get them a bigger bounty in a deal, that should be the deciding factor.
Otherwise, who are the Leafs going to trade? Do you think other GMs are filling up Nonis’ voice mail to outbid one another for the services of Paul Ranger? Do you suppose Toronto could breathe a massive sigh of relief with the talent they’d receive in a swap that sent Nikolai Kulemin out of town?
C’mon now. You, the reader, I, the writer, and Nonis, the GM, all know any trade of a Leafs forward or defenceman will be inconsequential if it involves low-end talent or create another hole if it involves high-end talent.
That leaves a goalie trade. Reimer or Bernier. It doesn’t have to be one in particular who goes. But for the good of the team, one of the two must go.