Generally speaking, late November is around the time of the season that moves involving roster players tend to start. A quarter of the way into the season, GMs can feel like they've seen enough of their club to know what's going right or wrong, while still having enough time to turn things around.
Last year the first major player movement of the season for the Leafs came on November 24th, after their 20th game of the season, when Fletcher traded Steen and Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak. Struggling to find offense in their first half of October, the Leafs had only 7 wins heading into late November, while the Blues were dealing with injuries to key players and badly needed depth.
(Funnily enough, last year's Blues team is an example for why Leafs fans can still have hope about their season, a team with some emerging youngsters, and one that needed time to gel before tearing up the NHL in the second half en route to a playoff spot.)
Game #20 once again approaches, and the Leafs are about to embark on a stretch of games against teams that they should be able to win against (no offense meant to any team that isn't Ottawa). Whether they know it or not, these next two weeks will likely decide roster spots for our forwards, and like last year both the players and fans may be surprised as to who gets the axe.
Whether it's through trades or waivers, it's obvious that our current roster is suffering from an abundance of contracts. We need the flexibility to make call-ups, if only for the energy that youthful players can bring during their cup of coffee to the show. Like last year, I'd be surprised if any players brought in or up amount to more than depth, but I think player movement is just as important right now.
So who needs to watch out for their jobs? Stajan and Hagman have both found themselves into the doghouse this year, and Exelby and Finger have been unable to cement their roster spot in the eyes of Wilson. Whatever happens, I can't imagine this roster looking the same a month from now.
With one NHL trade deadline deal the Marlies are dramatically weaker - Their playoff rival is much stronger, however. The job of the Leafs is to make the Leafs, now and in the future, a better team. The harsh truth is that...
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