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Kadri, van Riemsdyk and
February 20, 2019
10:02 pm
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shushu
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Anyone who becomes general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs should be forced to take the following pledge before their first day on the job. With their right hand raised, they must repeat: I promise not to trade away young players and draft picks for players whose best years are behind them, I promise not to trade away young players and draft picks for players whose best years are behind them. I do solemnly swear I will not trade away young players and draft picks for players whose best years are behind them. Dave Nonis, of course, took no such pledge when he took the job almost three years ago. But heres hoping he made at least a private vow to himself not to repeat the mistakes of those who came before him. Weve all seen the pattern. A Maple Leaf general manager starts out on a blueprint to build the team through patience and smarts, developing from within and keeping a core of young players that can mature and come of age together. But it never turns out that way because somewhere along the way he hits the fast-forward button and the plan goes out the window. The panic sets in when the draft picks that were supposed to fuel the Leafs improvement dont pan-out, forcing him to mortgage the future just to keep the teams head above water. Which is why news that the Leafs have interest in the potential availability of Carolina centre Eric Staal is so worrisome because it would take the Leafs down a similar path as that where their previous plans have gone astray. Only theres no reason it should. Early in their third season under Dave Nonis, the Leafs remain a work in progress just in terms of reaching the post-season. Theyve got a fair amount of talent but dont play the game in a way thats conducive to consistently winning. They arent talent poor. Theyre young, frustrating at times, and still a long way from reaching their collective potential. But this is a team, unlike some past Leaf teams, which has at least chance to mature into something decent. In Gardiner, Rielly, Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Kessel the Leafs have four players all age 27 or younger who either are, or have the potential to become front line NHLers. They have a goaltender in Jonathan Bernier who looks a lot like a rising star and a rookie in Stuart Percy who is fitting in well so far during just his second season as a pro. And last seasons top pick, William Nylander, appears to possess the skills that could make him able to play as a rookie 19-year-old next season. So theres lots of young trees in the forest, so to speak. To sell off a combination of those assets and or draft picks for a player in Eric Staal who turns 30 this month is asking for a repeat of history. Staal has already played a ton of hockey in his career – 771 games, suffered some significant injuries and his best season in terms of goals and points is now eight years ago. Would he immediately become the Leafs best player? Probably. But for how long? Theres absolutely no way to know that but there are so many great hockey players whose abilities decline significantly past their early 30s. Which means that if the Leafs were to acquire Staal, hes likely to become a fading star on an expensive ticket by the time the core of their team matures. Acquiring Staal would make sense if the Leafs were in the midst of a Stanley Cup window with maybe two years remaining in it. But theyre nowhere near being able to compete for the Cup. They need a lot of things before that happens. But nothing more than patience. Kyle Lauletta Giants Jersey . Giants manager Bruce Bochy told The Associated Press of the decision before NL West-leading San Francisco opened a 10-game homestand Monday night with the first of three games against second-place Arizona. Cody Latimer Jersey . Bryant underwent an operation in December to correct an irregular heartbeat. 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