With the trade deadline looming, could the Toronto Maple Leafs look to Brendan Smith to address concerns on the blue line, even if it’s only a short-term solution?
There would be a certain irony if the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs in the year the Red Wings miss out for the first time since 1990. Of course hockey fans in Detroit already know how important Mike Babcock is, but such a scenario would only reinforce this.
The Red Wings sit eight points out of a playoff spot entering Thursday night’s action. With one game and six days remaining before the trade deadline, they seem increasingly likely to take on the role of sellers.
If this does turn out to be the case, Babcock and the Leafs could well look to take advantage of the situation. At least that’s what former NHL executive and coach Doug MacLean thinks.
As reported by Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston, MacLean believes the Leafs should make a move for Brendan Smith. A major reason for this opinion relates to Smith’s experience playing under Babcock for four seasons.
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In addition, the 28-year old only has a cap hit of $2.75 million. While Kevin Shattenkirk would understandably be preferably, how feasible is it to expect him to end up in Toronto?
The question is, would Smith be good enough to help strengthen the Leafs’ blue line? In a lot of respects, it comes down to perspective.
On the one hand, the Etobicoke, Ontario native has the size, skating ability and aggressiveness you look for in a defenceman. On the flip side however, his lack of consistency has stopped him fulfilling the potential which saw him drafted during the first round in 2007.
The Leafs will also want to factor in that Smith will become a free agent at the conclusion of this season. Essentially, he would likely just be a short-term rental.
Another aspect to consider, is what the player himself wants. The 2010 Hobey Baker finalist spoke to the media on Tuesday, about the speculation surrounding his future.
"“I only know Red Wings hockey, and I like it. That’s all I can say. I’ve loved every moment here, good and bad. They have made me a better player. I would like to continue to stay on the Wing path, but there is a business, and you never know what happens.”"
The thinking is the Red Wings will attempt to negotiate a new deal with Smith ahead of the March 1st deadline, or move him if this fails. If the latter happens, it will be interesting to see if the Leafs are among the eligible suitors.
What’s your take on Smith? Is he the type of player you believe could help the Leafs? If so, how realistic is it to expect him to end up in Toronto? Share your thoughts in the comments section.