Here we go: they can't afford to go 8 straight seasons without the postseason. Some think it's a lock the Maple Leafs will extend their streak as the NHL team with the longest playoff drought but, well, they are wrong. They will get there.
To do it they must not allow the way they've lost the past two games, the losses to the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers, to get into their heads. To allow those disheartening defeats, each featuring a blown two goal lead, to play upon their collective confidence is to go back to the hapless Leafs that ,once in a swoon, are incapable of finding their game. That would be the Leafs that faced needed a playoff run last season and instead of taking it on, at one point they lost 19 out of 24 games.
Maple Leafs: Roberto Luongo or bust?
To avoid going there again they need a trade, signing, something. They started with promise, Ben Scrivens looked strong, the defence showed signs of great improvement and the forwards were...adequate, with Nazem Kadri stepping up and Phil Kessel, while not scoring, playing with energy. But while it's so very early yet, those two crushing losses scream out for a move.
But what kind of move? The much ballyhooed trade for Roberto Luongo seems the obvious one. But not if the asking price is both Kadri and Tyler Bozak. Bozak and a draft pick, okay, but not two of the more promising centers in the NHL for a goalie with a contract as long as the list of spicy Brian Burke quotes. There's no question Luongo would be a stabilizing player, he's a consistent game-stealer and you won't lose 19 of 24 with him, but the asking price has to come down.
Dave Nonis: A need to act now
If Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis doesn't agree what's the second option? Improve scoring? That's harder with Joffrey Lupul's injury. Could GM Dave Nonis create a team capable of keeping up when Scrivens or James Reimer, who along with Johan Gustavsson finished 29th in the NHL in goaltending stats last season, fumble the puck?
There is no one out there still in the free agent market that could be signed to help right away, if Jason Arnot or Brendan Morrison, Brian Rolston or Radek Dvorak were of sufficient value, that would have happened already. So, again - what then? Trade Jake Gardiner for a scorer?
Burke didn't leave the Leafs options and one option absolutely off the table is missing the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. A losing streak of any duration in a short season for a fragile team would spell doom so the puck is in the rink of GM Nonis and if he doesn't do something soon then we will almost certainly see the Leafs playoff futility streak reach 8.
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