The Toronto Maple Leafs are open for business, fire sale-style, but for now they’re reportedly just doing their diligence.
While bigger ticket items like Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul could be had, Toronto’s reported focus is on creating a market and maximizing the return on a trio of pending unrestricted free agents including Cody Franson, Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli, according to ESPN and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
Read on for the latest.
In an appearance on TSN 1050 radio on Friday afternoon, LeBrun updated the Maple Leafs’ trade posture and characterized the club as being open to making bigger moves, but focussed on the preliminary stages of gauging offers for their pending unrestricted free agents.
Here are his comments in full:
They’d love to move Lupul, whose kidding who, but I don’t think the market is too hot for him right now.
The real focus is on the UFAs right now. I think they’d listen on Bozak, but the UFAs is really where the focus is at. I talked to a Leafs source two days ago, that really the process has just started in terms of teams phoning, and the Leafs phoning teams, and finding out where everyone is at in terms of creating a market for these guys.
It’s not going to be hard to create a market. Particularly for guys like Santorelli and Winnik. Their cap hits are cheap, (and) a lot of these playoff bound teams and contenders have so little wiggle room under the cap that a guy like Santorelli is so appealing to them…
Now Franson is the big sell for Toronto if talks finally break down for good and I don’t think there’s anyway they’ll sign him. If they can get a second round pick and a good young player, I think that would be a good haul for Toronto here, and I don’t think they’ll have a hard time getting that.
Asked if there was any chance the Maple Leafs might be able to net a first-round pick in exchange for any of their pure rentals, LeBrun didn’t sound too optimistic. He specifically detailed that the Detroit Red Wings – a club with interest in Cody Franson – are steadfast in their unwillingness to part with their first-round pick. He did allow that perhaps the Maple Leafs might be able to recoup “A low first, when it comes to some of the elite teams.”
As we begin to obsessively compile the latest reports about the Maple Leafs’ trade deadline plans, a consistent storyline is beginning to emerge. The Maple Leafs are pretty much open to anything, but it’s going to take a significant offer for them to part with a cornerstone asset like a Dion Phaneuf or a Phil Kessel.
Lupul and Bozak are available, and there may be some scattered interest, but those are trickier deals that it seems like a long shot that they’ll be completed prior to the March 2nd NHL trade deadline.
When it comes to Franson, Santorelli and Winnik though – whether or not they’re traded is less a matter of if, and more a matter of when and for how much.