Almost every single team in the East made additions on deadline day.
The four teams ahead of the Leafs, the Penguins, Bruins, Canadiens and Lightning all made additions, ranging from minor the major.
The Penguins added depth with Lee Stempniak and Marcel Goc. Boston picked up Andrej Meszaros for defensive depth. The Canadiens made the major splash, getting Thomas Vanek while also acquiring Devan Dubnyk for goaltending depth.
Tampa Bay is a slightly different situation as they lost Martin St. Louis, the reigning Art Ross winner for Ryan Callahan. That’s a deal that makes them worse right now. Then again Steven Stamkos will play his first game tonight since breaking his leg months ago, which instantly makes them much, much better.
The teams below the Leafs in the standings are the Flyers, Rangers, Blue Jackets, Red Wings and Capitals.
The Flyers added Andrew MacDonald, which is why they were able to deal away Meszaros. The Rangers as noted added Martin St. Louis to go with Nash, Richards, Girardi and Lundqvist. While the Blue Jackets did lose Marion Gaborik, he hadn’t produced much for them this year. They also picked up offensive and defensive depth with Nick Schultz and Matt Frattin. The Redwings overpaid for David Legwand and the Capitals added Jaroslav Halak and Dustin Penner.
That’s a lot of moves out of the top 10 teams in the conference for no moves from the Leafs. In fairness, the Leafs have cap issues and have traded away a bunch of draft picks already so they didn’t have a lot of room to make deals, but with some prices so low the Leafs could have easily been involved.
Ottawa picked up Ales Hemsky for a third (2015) and fifth (2014) round pick. Surely the Leafs could have matched and beaten that deal to add some depth on the wing. If Hemsky joined Lupul and Kadri on the second line, that would leave Clarkson and a mix of Raymond and Kulemin to fill out the third, with the other dropping to the fourth. You also get depth on the wing.
Additional scoring wouldn’t hurt either. This season the Leafs are 4-17-2 when Phil Kessel doesn’t get a point. As bad as that is it’s not just Kessel. The top line of Kessel, Bozak and Van Riemsdyk have combined for 71 goals this season. All other forwards have just 84 put together. This is a top heavy team that could have used some depth.
But none of that happened, so the Maple Leafs are now left to look at the rest of the schedule. The Leafs have 19 games left with 11 of those coming on the road.
To make matters worse, the three game losing streak since returning from the Olympic break isn’t about to get any easier.
After visiting the Rangers tonight, Toronto is at home to the Flyers before going on a Western road trip through Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington and Detroit. The next two weeks sees 7 games with 6 on the road against teams with a combined record of 239 – 147 – 49.
Simply put, if the lethargic Leafs we’ve seen dominate our televisions screens since the break continue to be the team we see going forward, by the end of this road trip the Leafs may already be out of the playoffs.
A run of .500 hockey from here on out will guarantee the Leafs a playoff spot, so the bar hasn’t been set that high.
It all starts tonight when the Leafs battle Martin St. Louis and the new look New York Rangers. The Leafs destiny is in their hands, let’s see where they end up two weeks from now.