• By: Dave Gross

Trade-deadline turmoil in Toronto?

It’s expected the Ottawa Senators will look a lot like the Ottawa Senators come Monday next week.

In other words, don’t expect much noise at the trade deadline (3 p.m. ET March 21st). Outside of shipping out a couple of minor role players and potentially Swiss army knife Nick Paul, it’s gonna be quiet.

That noise that you DO hear, though, is emanating from a few kilometres away. Down the 401 you’ll find a veritable cacophony.

It’s Toronto, people, and as the great Jim Ross often says – business is about to pick up.

Or at the very least it had better pick up or it’s another season of promise unfulfilled. And that ‘business’ had better be supremely productive or we likely won’t have Kyle Dubas and perhaps Brendan Shanahan to kick around anymore.

As despairing as it is to be a local fan in Eastern Ontario you can make the argument it’s even more so in the southern climes of the province. There’s been a whole lot of close-but-not-close-enough.

So, all eyes will certainly be on the ‘hockey universe’ this week as the Toronto Maple Leafs try to patch together a team that can compete with the playoff bulls.

If you think, Ottawa Senator Fan, that chewing your fingernails over Matt Murray’s health or Josh Brown’s savvy puck play is taxing, try on a few of these:

  1. We need a goalie. Not just any goalie, a goalie who can steal games (which the Buds haven’t had since Curtis Joseph or Eddie Belfour);
  2. We need grit. You know, the kind that Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow provide – hard-nosed hockey players with skill;
  3. We need a presence on the blueline. Morgan Rielly is splendid, and T.J. Brodie has been a really nice pick-up, but it’s emaciated and somewhat shaky after that. Safe to say there’s nary an Aaron Ekblad or Victor Hedman in sight;
  4. We need a recharged John Tavares. Are there just too many miles on this centre?;
  5. We need a committed William Nylander. He’s been better this season but there’s still more to give;
  6. We need a better playoff alignment. Looks like the Leafs face either Tampa or Florida in the opening round. This does not qualify as good news;
  7. We’d love to have the Jason Spezza from 2007 when he tied for the league lead in playoff scoring (lovely thought, but alas . . .).

And we could carry on with a few more.

But before this gets out of hand, I’m pretty sure you get the general idea – Toronto (again this season) is in a whole heap of want.

Regardless, this next week is bound to be an interesting one for the Leafs. After all, this is an operation that’s in danger of wasting the best years of Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, and that would be a shame.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: The Pittsburgh Penguins sit second in the Metropolitan Division. Sidney Crosby’s missed 12 games of the team’s 60 while Geno Malkin’s missed well more than half. With a skinny, skinny roster head coach Mike Sullivan’s worked miracles. He’s my choice for the Jack Adams . . . Anyone else reminded of Pascale Leclaire when Matt Murray’s name pops up? For those with short memories, Ottawa nabbed Leclaire  – a proven starter seemingly in his prime – from Columbus in 2009. Thanks to injuries, Leclaire appeared in only 48 games for the Senators in two seasons . . . If you haven’t heard former NHL goalie Mike McKenna on The Wally and Methot Show, you should. McKenna was brutally honest in his assessment of Ottawa’s situation. Others might try and follow his lead. Here’s the link . . . McKenna is as well-spoken as they get. If I’m Sportsnet or TSN, I’m snapping him up . . . McKenna’s tweet: “Just a reminder that this is the first season of the Ottawa Senators' five-year run of unparalleled success” generated a lot of local hate and heat. Expected? Yep. Is he wrong with his jab? Nope . . . Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion does take a lot of heat for his ‘veteran-to-bolster-roster’ moves, and justifiably. One that has paid off though is the acquisition of Nick Holden from Vegas. Dorion wisely extended Holden in December for another season . . . Looking at this week’s schedule, Ottawa should be in line for at least a couple of wins. Good for the ego, bad for the draft positioning.


Monday, March 14: Arizona at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Wednesday, March 16: Columbus at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Friday, March 18: Philadelphia at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, March 19: Ottawa at Montreal (7 pm)

Photo: USA Today