Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 02/09/11 at 09:14 PM ET
This trade did not happen because of Lupul.
In a one for one trade, Beauchemin can fetch a better player than Lupul from another team.
Brian Burke knows this.
What Burke also knows though is that there aren’t any teams out there that would give up a prospect like Jake Gardiner on top of a player like Lupul and a pick for a player like Beauchemin.
That is the trade in a nut shell.
So who is Jake Gardiner?
He stands 6’ 2” and is 190 pounds. Considering that he is only 20, he has enough time to grow into that frame. He is a strong offensive defenseman with size, great hands and mobility. His skating ability contributes to exceptional positional play and on ice awareness. In fact, he has the potential to be a powerplay quarterback at the NHL level with his hard shot and quick release from the point along with his ability to distribute the puck.
Scouting reports aside, Gardiner is putting up terrific numbers in the NCAA as well. He is averaging a point per game this season putting up 7 goals and 23 assists in 30 games this season.
The most relevant fact about Gardiner though is that the former 1st Round Pick was drafted 17th Overall by Burke himself in 2008, while he was the GM of the Anaheim Ducks. So this trade has Burke’s stamp on it in more ways than one. What’s more is that he immediately becomes the Leafs’ best prospect offensive defenseman.
On to Lupul.
The 6’ 1” Right Winger was taken 7th Overall in 2002. Since then he has been traded multiple times, playing for Anaheim, Edmonton, Philadelphia and Anaheim again in the process. He has also dealt with nagging injuries, specifically with his back, but has put together three 50 plus point campaigns in the process. Lupul has not played a full season since 2008-2009 however. This season he has 13 points in 26 games, which is pretty respectable considering the amount of time he has taken off.
Lupul is a goal scorer and if he can get back to the level at which he is capable of playing, he is a legitimate top 6 forward, which is a very pressing need in Toronto. Not only that but he has a history with Clark MacArthur, with whom he played in Medicine Hat. Ron Wilson has stated that the two of them will skate on a line centered by Tyler Bozak on the Leafs’ second unit.
That leaves a Line 1 of Kulemin, Grabovski and Kessel together, which played together yesterday in the Leafs’ victory over the Islanders. Versteeg returns to his spot on the 3rd line with Armstrong and most likely Brent, which forms a terrific checking line as well.
On defense, Beauchemin’s exit opens up a roster spot. That spot means Keith Aulie becomes a regular in the Leafs’ lineup.
Given the changes, odds are the Leafs line up will look very much like this:
Kulemin – Grabovski – Kessel
MacArthur – Bozak – Lupul
Versteeg – Brent – Armstrong
Crabb – Boyce – Sjostrom (Rosehill/Orr switching in and out)
Kaberle – Schenn
Komisarek – Phaneuf
Aulie – Gunnarsson
With Beauchemin the first of a few trades expected to come before trade deadline – Kaberle and Giguere in particular – expect the line up to see a couple of major changes by season’s end.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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