After American Thanksgiving, teams have a good sense of where they stand in terms of the playoffs race. Those who know they have a high chance of making the post season will start to analyze their roster; and this analyzation will be done in more depth after the other unofficial season marker of Christmas. It's at this time that organizations begin to determine what they need to help stabilize their roster, and look to teams at the bottom of the standings for help. In a little over a month trade talk will heavily pick up, with the sellers beginning to gauge the interest in their players.
*Cue the Toronto Maple Leafs*
It is no secret that the Leafs will be selling before the playoffs, and TSN's Darren Dreger even stated that the belief is GM Lou Lamoriello will gut the team at the deadline. He also said in the same article that Rielly is the only true untouchable on the Leafs current roster, which makes everyone else available at the right price.
The Future UFA's
Those who only have a year on their current deals are guaranteed to be shopped big time at the deadline (and even earlier than that). Depending on their play, future UFA's to be Matthias, Grabner, Spaling, Parenteau, Boyes, and Polak (pictured above) could all soon be dealt. Another UFA name to possibly throw in there is James Reimer, but that has a whole bunch of other factors to consider. All these names are very highly likely to be traded, given their play continues to be decent.
The existing 'Old Core'
The players on expiring contracts aren't the only ones being shopped here, where even the teams old core (ex. Bozak and Lupul) might even be considered part of the fire sale. Any Restricted Free Agent could be in play too, but that's basically just it; they can be had. The best offer is of importance to the Leafs as they are looking for draft picks to give top scout Mark Hunter the most options at the draft table. The trade deadline is the best time to acquire these picks, and the Leafs (who already have 11 selections in the 2016 draft according to General Fanager) will certainly be adding more. It's more complicated with members of the old core, because they won't be moved unless the offer is perfect. The Leafs don't have to move them, and will only do so if there is a good return in their eyes.
The post-deadline roster?
Rielly being the only untouchable is a no-brainer, but it's impossible to tell who will still be with him after all the eventual trades. The Leafs still need to ice a team, and need the roster spots to be filled. After the deadline, players that were contract dumps to the Leafs (ex. Nick Spaling in the Kessel trade) will probably fill a couple of those. Even players on the AHL Marlies might be given a chance to play out the rest of the season with the big club in order to give them a taste of NHL hockey. Nylander? Kapanen? Who knows, as the Leafs organization is always tight lipped about most of their plans.
The point is, with so many players primed to be moved, the team iced after the potential trades in January and February will be drastically different than the team iced at the beginning of the season. Whatever the case is, those who end up filling out the roster for the Leafs after the mega deadline sale will be playing for a team trying to get the best odds at the draft lottery. It's safe to say that after the trading frenzy everyone can expect the Leafs to drop like a stone in the standings.