It has been a long, quiet NBA All-Star break. Even the Leafs took the week off…(rimshot!)
So, the rebuild has begun. Trading Franzen and Santorelli (two UFAs) for Jokinen (another UFA), prospect Brendan Leipsic and Nashville’s 1st rounder this year is a clear step in the right direction. Those two were not going to be re-signed by the Leafs and getting a prospect and a 1st rounder for two UFAs is a coo. Also, Jokinen could be flipped to another team by the deadline for another future pick so the Leafs development and scouting better get on their game. This prospect they got, Leipsic is said to be a young Theo Fleury (before he landed in Manhattan) and although small (listed at 5′ 10″ but more likely 5′ 8″) he tore up the WHL in scoring and has a lot of sandpaper in his game. I have a cousin in Portland who saw him play for three years and thinks he is exactly the type of player Leafs fans will love. The issue is can they develop him into something that serves the team well. This is going to be a long and painful time for Leafs nation because this has never been done before in the 98-year history of the team. Leafs fans are clearly patient because for almost 50 years there has been no sniff of a Stanley Cup but the arena is full every game (although most of those are corporate seat fillers). I don’t expect a lot of moves from the Leafs until the summer but having two guaranteed first round picks this year is a great way to start a long, long road.
Today is NBA trade deadline but I don’t see the Raps or anyone else for that matter doing anything. The Suns are going to move Goran Dragic because he won’t re-sign and right now the Knicks are offering Tim Hardaway Jr. and our old friend Jose Calderon which are two pieces they could use for where they are as a team. There is talk that the Timberwolves are going to bring Garnett back to play out his string and retire in Minnesota. He’ll probably be given a front office job there next year. There has been some talk about moving Terrence Ross to get another piece but what the Raps need is a tough interior big-man and I can’t see how a team will give the Raps that player for T-Ross. The Raps also have the Knicks 1st round pick this year which will be a top 5 pick but I don’t think this is the greatest draft year so that could be a movable piece, especially to get a David West kind of player. It might be better to keep the pick and draft someone low cost so we have more money to pay Durant in 2016 when he signs here (yes, it is going to happen).
Spring Training starts next week and as a Jays fan, you have to feel pretty good. Even if you don’t like the holes in the team, our lineup looks a hell of a lot better than the Orioles, Yankees and Rays. Boston is a question mark because they brought in a lot of new pieces and we know how that worked for the Jays in 2013. If our young pitchers can hold up over a full season, there is no doubt we can take the East but health will be the main concern. With injury-prone Lawrie, Morrow and Lind gone maybe this is the year…I said maybe.