Keith Aulie traded to Tampa Bay by Toronto for Carter Ashton
With this trade, the last non-Phaneuf piece of the fabled Phaneuf trade leaves Toronto.
At the time of the Phaneuf trade, Aulie was much heralded as the real gem of the deal. (This was said to those of us who thought the Leafs gave up too much for an overpaid, over-attudituded defenseman in the midst of the second worse season of his career.)
How the times have changed. Aulie is not having a good season, though he is usually playing against the other team’s best players, so we should take that into consideration. But he is 22. Since when was it smart to give up on a 22-year-old formerly highly touted D prospect? Since the Johnson deal? Perhaps.
I have no idea whether Carter Ashton will turn out to be more valuable to the Leafs than Aulie. (though my guess, based on his very exciting numbers – 329 PIM but only 158 points in 239 WHL games – tells me he won’t be more valuable.) But that’s not exactly the point. The point is that Keith Aulie was seen as part of the future of this organization as late as last off-season (and perhaps at the beginning of this season) and suddenly he isn’t. Why?
Because, big surprise, the Leafs are on the bubble and can’t figure out whether they are trading for picks to improve next year or trading for veterans for a playoff run. Who could have seen this coming?
Now, Ashton is neither, and that’s sort of the problem. The perpetual mediocrity that Burke has destined the Leafs to means that we should expect many more of these “what are the Leafs going to do?” trade deadlines.
The result of this one is that the Leafs lose a recently supposed future part of their top 4 D for what looks to be a top 9 forward, perhaps. That makes sense to whom exactly?