Brown? Nash? Leafs need a spark

Los Angeles Kings captain, Dustin Brown, would have looked awfully nice in a Maple Leafs uniform....

Los Angeles Kings captain, Dustin Brown, would have looked awfully nice in a Maple Leafs uniform. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:26 PM ET

Too bad, if itís true, that Dustin Brown is off the market.

The Los Angeles Kings captain would have looked awfully nice in a Maple Leafs uniform.

Brown is the kind of player that Leafs general manager Brian Burke loves, one who knocks people all over the ice, scores goals and oozes leadership.

But with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi backing off on Friday from the idea that Brown is available, the Leafs likely will have to turn their attention elsewhere.

Itís obvious to all that Burke has to do something before Monday at 3 p.m. Maybe Matt Frattin, if he indeed is the player recalled from the Toronto Marlies on Saturday, will provide a spark. Does anyone see that spark lighting a fire that lasts for another 20 games and springs the Leafs into the playoffs?

Teams that are stable, no matter what the situation is, donít lose seven of eight, as the Leafs have done, in such a crucial time of the season.

The Washington Capitals, visitors to the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, have been struggling, but so too were the San Jose Sharks before they departed the ACC with two points in regulation on Thursday.

Rick Nash would be a wonderful acquisition for the Leafs, but Burke does not have the proper assets to acquire the Columbus Blue Jackets star (or, if he does, would be foolish to part with defenceman Jake Gardiner). The Leafs could learn as early as Saturday whether theyíre going be the next team Nash plays for.

Defenceman Luke Schenn, it should not surprise anyone, stands a good chance of being employed by another National Hockey League team on Tuesday. The Leafs are high on Marlies defenceman Korbinian Holzer, and figure he could make the full-time jump to the NHL next season, while prospect Jesse Blacker is tracking to be a valuable NHL defenceman in the not-too-distant future.

And Keith Aulie, of course, is another defenceman who has the talent to be a Leaf for a long time.

Schennís patience has been stretched to the limit with the daily questions about his future, but no wonder some think he could be a captain in the NHL one day. The 22-year-old has been gracious, and if the queries bug him, he has hidden it well.

ďGuys are anxiously awaiting to get (the deadline) over with,Ē Schenn said. ďIt has dragged on for quite a while and guys around here have been hearing about it quite a bit.

ďFor right now, everyone thinks they are going to be here. I donít know what is happening. Itís not like management is coming down to the dressing room and telling us what their plans are.Ē

Clarke MacArthur also could be part of a package for another player, as well as one of Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne. And what if Burke decides in the next couple of days that the contract gap with Mikhail Grabovski is one that wonít be bridged before July 1?

Burke has to be arriving at the same conclusion that most observers realize. One trade, even if it was for Nash, wonít fix the Leafs. Toronto is not a club that requires just one trade to put them over the hump.

The Leafs woke up on Friday morning out of the playoff picture for the first time since Jan. 31, but simply climbing back into the race and staying above the eighth-place line in the Eastern Conference wonít be automatic.

A goaltender who can stop the puck with consistency would be nice. A truculent forward, one who can play a bit (Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars wouldnít be a bad fit) should be at the top of Burkeís shopping list.

The names of James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers and Ryan Malone of the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to filter through. Goalies Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders, and perhaps the Nashville Predatorsí Anders Lindback, are out there.

Though the future of Leafs coach Ron Wilson likely will depend on whether he gets his players into the playoffs, how long can Burke survive in Toronto without a post-season appearance?

Brown wouldnít have been the answer to everything. But he would have represented a solid start.

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


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