Leafs Deadline Postgame: They Finally Won Something

Jeff Veillette
March 03 2015 12:01PM

Yesterday was a day where the Leafs weren't playing any hockey games, but they were still competing against other hockey teams, in a race to see who could make the least stupid panic move most intelligent final adjustments to their roster. After about seventeen hours, silence was finally confirmed, as the Leafs completed two trades.

The Rundown

People will incorrectly state that the deadline consisted of two trades yesterday, but a race is about more than the finish line. In this case, the Leafs ran a marathon all the way to 3PM on March 2nd.

The bells of change first rang on February 6th, when the Blue and White traded Carter Ashton and David Broll to the other Blue and White, Tampa Bay, for a conditional seventh round pick. This gave the team a few roster spots to work with for the coming weeks. Nine days later, they made their first big splash, and arguably the league's first splash of the deadline season, sending Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson to the Nashville Predators for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and a first round Pick. To close out the first two weeks, the Toronto Marlies got in on the fever, trading Carson McMillan to Bridgeport for Peter Sivak, a deal that really only matters at the ECHL level.

In came the second wind. On the 25th, Daniel Winnik made his way to Pittsburgh, in return for a second round pick, a fourth round pick, and grinder Zach Sill. The next day, they worked on the minor leagues once again, sending Spencer Abbott to Chicago for TJ Brennan. It seemed like it would be calm from there, but then the big one. David Clarkson. Most of us still can't believe it, but he's a Columbus Blue Jacket now, after being sent to the Buckeye State for Nathan Horton.

Finally, we hit deadline weekend. With all of the prior transactions evening out in terms of total players, the Leafs took the opportunity to pick up 24 year old Chicago defenceman Tim Erixon off of waivers. On the big day, they flipped Olli Jokinen to St. Louis for Joakim Lindstrom and a conditional sixth round pick, and sent Korbinian Holzer to Anaheim for Eric Brewer and a fifth rounder.

In the end, the chart looks like this:

Out In
Carson McMillan Brandon Leipsic
Carter Ashton Eric Brewer
Cody Franson Joakim Lindstrom
Daniel Winnik Nathan Horton
David Broll Peter Sivak
David Clarkson Tim Erixon
Korbinian Holzer TJ Brennan
Mike Santorelli Zach Sill
Spencer Abbott 1st Round 2015 (NSH)
  2nd Round 2016 (PIT)
  4-6th Round 2015 (STL, conditional)
  4th Round 2015 (PIT)
  5th Round 2015 (ANA)
  7th Round 2016 (TB, conditional)

Blue Warrior

Yesterday's patience. If there's one trope in David Nonis' career that tends to work to his advantage, it's the fact that he is patient to nearly a fault, and yesterday was a good example of that. 

A lot of us wanted to see the Leafs shed contracts with term on them, and really get this fire sale going. But the reality is, the deadline is a horrible place to do anything if you're known to be in the position of weakness. Everybody and their dog knew that the Leafs had a for sale sign in front of the door yesterday, and that's no way of getting fair value. The draft will likely be the proper place to make some of this stuff happen.

Notes

  • The Leafs did a fantastic job flexing their financial muscle. They used salary retention to make the Winnik trade happen and increase value, and several of these trades involved some sort of salary scooping. Taking on Jokinen in the Predators trade, taking on Lindstrom to trade Jokinen, taking on Brewer in the Holzer deal, and I mean, the Clarkson trade speaks for itself. 
  • It's really weird seeing Dave Nonis acquiring draft picks, but hey, there's six more! One of the being a first rounder, no less. I guess we're all hoping for the LA Kings to squeak into the playoffs and upset the Predators, then.
  • I'm really happy the Leafs didn't retain any salary on longer-term deals. That's going to come back to haunt them if they do, and hopefully we see none of it in the future. At the end of this year, they'll return to one retention of three, at just $200,000 for one more year. If only Tim Gleason wasn't on the books, Toronto could have been close to a clean(ish) cap chart!

I'm not exactly the most optimistic spectator of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but I feel like they did a lot of things right in phase one of this sale season. Save for David Booth, every pending UFA was flipped for an asset. They didn't give up any youth that stood a chance in this organization, didn't give up any core pieces for the sole sake of shaking things up, and managed to get rid of David Clarkson. I get the disappointment of inactivity on the day you stay home and watch TV, but if I told you that this was the end result a month ago, you'd be very happy. As you should be now.

The Leafs will resume trading... well, technically, whenever they want, because the deadline only stops players from playing in the playoffs after being traded, but realistically, some time in May or June.

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Managing Editor of Hockey Content at the Nation Network. Just here so I'll get the opposite of fined. If you'd like to collaborate or simply have a question, email me at jeff@veillette.me
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#1 Bertly83
March 03 2015, 12:15PM
Trash it!
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#clarksonfree

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#2 Goon
March 03 2015, 12:24PM
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Every single move the Leafs made has left them in a genuinely better position in the medium- and long-term. That's impressive.

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#3 Puck Paddy
March 03 2015, 01:28PM
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There wasn't one major deal on deadline day, so I think the Leafs did right by holding fort. This team has already proven they're going in to the tank, and they're unlikely to get any lower than they are so might as well play the long game.

They've got to stand firm on not retaining salary for the big boys, in my opinion. There's absolutely no need. All of them are worthwhile players and will contribute to any team. Salary cap room will be the biggest asset for this team going forward.

This year is a great chance to make something happen in the draft. Can you imagine if they actually secure two good prospects in the first round? That could change the complexion of this team.

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#4 what's48years
March 03 2015, 01:35PM
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Great picture of Cliff and Dave. Cliff probably just told Nonis about that masterful deal in which he gave up two picks to move from the 7th pick to the 5th so he could get Luke Schenn.

Nonis probably replied yeah Cliff I sure wish I could make great deals like that.

Yep Cliff, Dave Morrison, Tom Watt, Mike Penney and Nonis will all be doing their usual exemplary work in June on draft day. Kind of gives you goose bumps down the arms.

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#5 Steve
March 03 2015, 02:12PM
Trash it!
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Thoughtful, realistic and well written. Refreshing after reading many of the comments on Sportsnet/TSN which are basically bitching sessions.

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