In a piece written during the off-season, I laid out some thoughts to put the Leafs’ fascination with Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone into perspective. The interest in Malone has been there over the last few season’s and you can read the original article, back from June 22, HERE.
Now, with the Leafs sitting just out of the playoffs in ninth place, they are looking to make some roster moves to increase their chances of claiming a spot in the post-season. It’s no secret that the Leafs have been looking for a ‘power-forward’ and all eyes could once again be on Ryan Malone.
Despite Malone’s cap-hit of $4.5-million per season and his no-movement clause, Toronto reporter Damien Cox said of Malone: “[He was] once one of the more highly regarded power-forwards in the game, now less of a force for the Bolts, who sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings right now. The money-losing Lightning might well like to shed that deal.”
Although it is a heavy contract for the Bolts to hang on to, Malone is a player that can get a lot of pull. The Leafs desire for him is understandible but there are several other teams out there that could use Malone that would potentially have more to offer the Bolts in return, namely the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks have been fielding offers for their back-up goaltender . The Canucks have said they aren’t interested in giving Schneider up, but this is the NHL – any player can go at any time for the right price. This is not to say that a straight Malone/Schneider trade would ever happen, but it’s a good start and both teams would get something that they need.
In last year’s Stanley Cup finals, and throughout the season so far, the Boston Bruins have proven how far powerful, physical forwards can take you. Vancouver suffers from having no one of that calibre. Adding Malone to their roster would be a start. Not only would it add some physicality and heart to the team, but the offensive prowess of the existing Canucks might turn Malone back into the points getter he was while on the Pittsburgh Penguins and during previous Lightning seasons.
In return, the Tampa Bay Lightning would receive goaltending. It’s been a struggle so far this season and it’s no secret that the team is looking at goaltenders – if not during the season, then during the off-season. Roloson’s contract will be up and it’s safe to say he will not be returning. Garon will have one year left and it’s safe to say, for him, that he hasn’t earned number-one goalie status. Schneider is very much need in Tampa Bay.
The Leafs goaltending team hasn’t proven itself to be all that consistant, either, and therefore a deal with Toronto that would include a goaltender seems out of the question.
If a trade is to happen with Malone, the one with Vancouver is the one I’d like to see. The Leafs are eager for a forward, but have shown interest in many other names aside from Malone, such as James Van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s very doubtful that Toronto is in Malone’s future.
The 6’4, 219 pound Malone has 27 points in 39 games so far this season with the Bolts.
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