Ten reasons to keep watching Leafs

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

We know what you're thinking. What the hell could possibly be worth watching the Leafs for the next six weeks, now that they're out of the playoff race and the Mats Sundin show has come and gone?

But here are 10 things to hold your interest until the snow melts and everyone else starts the real season on April 13:

* Trade deadline

Rumours have had Brian Burke close to dealing Nik Antropov for Ryan Whitney last week and despite the GM's conciliatory comments about Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina, he'll deal them if someone is willing to overpay.

* Vesa Toskala

Is he playing hurt or not? Is off-season surgery in the cards?

Burke was probably scouring other rosters for help in goal next year until Toskala's hip/groin checked out and he put together three quality starts.

* Dominic Moore

Coach Ron Wilson didn't know much about this checking centre until his career offensive season showed he can score and dominate the faceoff dots as well. The question is whether Burke should deal him now when his value is highest.

* Ian White

Lost in the crowd when the Leafs defence is healthy, White always seems to shine when injuries KO the starters. And should he get more right wing action?

* Mikhail Grabovski

Some of the habits that drove Guy Carbonneau and the Habs nuts have re-surfaced here, but Wilson's tough love tactics have made a bit of an impact for this puck hog in recent games.

* Jason Blake

A surly outcast last year, he's now Mr. Sunshine and attempting to become the first American to lead the Leafs in scoring since Ed Olczyk 20 years ago.

* Mike Van Ryn

Wouldn't it be nice to have the whole defence healthy for the final 15-20 games to get a clear picture of what the team has on the blue line?

* Battle for the basement

Much to the chagrin of those who wanted them to tank, the Leafs have been holding a position equal in distance between the last playoff spot and last overall. They won't likely sink to the New York Islanders level (Toronto plays them twice in the next two weeks), but could end up fighting the Senators for a top five lottery ticket. The Leafs face Ottawa three more times.

* Out of farm's way

Goalie Justin Pogge will be back for a couple of games, but why not promote Jiri Tlusty again or reward some kids with a cup of coffee who have worked hard all season?

Then again, the Marlies could make the playoffs, get on their own roll and earn some consideration for next year.

* World championships

Strong play down the stretch could see some Leafs picked for Team Canada duty, such as Moore, White, Matt Stajan and Luke Schenn. Schenn might also get named to the league's all-rookie team.


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