There are few things greater for hockey fans than Elliotte
Friedman 30 Thoughts articles when we are within stone’s throw of the trade
deadline. With the Leafs being in tank/possible rebuild mode these articles are
about the glimpse of hope have that someone may in fact be righting the ship.
“2. There’s increased chatter around Bozak, as Damien Cox reported last Saturday. As a general rule, the
tightened cap has teams nervous about term, and he’s got three years remaining
with a $4.2M hit. He’s had a rough year and a change of scenery benefits
everyone. What do potential trade partners see in him? If it’s a No. 2 centre,
that cap number is reasonable. If a No. 3, it’s high. But this is a move
Toronto is trying to make.”
This thought is a long overdue one for the Leafs. The lack
of enthusiasm for Bozak amongst those of us on this site is well noted and we
won’t rehash that again now, but the long and short of it is that the Leafs
cannot move beyond being a bubble team with Bozak as the top line center.
Moving on is a sign that mediocrity isn’t the goal, serious contention may in
fact be the new direction.
The fact that Bozak’s a tweener between the top and bottom
six will be an issue, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down the Antoine
Vermette market, but of course Bozak’s term can also be a positive or negative
depending on certain teams views. Looking at playoff bound teams it appears
that Washington, Nashville, or maybe Detroit may be interested. Looking at the
bubble teams you could make an argument for Winnipeg, Vancouver, Minnesota or
Calgary looking for additional offense.
Since no speculation exists about what the return is that
the Leafs are looking for has been reported who knows what it takes to get a
deal done, but an early Vermette trade would definitely jump start the market.
“3. Mike Santorelli is going to be interesting.
The Toronto forward has a lot going for him: he’s a good player and he can move
up and down your lineup at both centre and wing. His cap hit is a delicious
$1.5 million. The longer the Maple Leafs hold on, the more teams can be
involved. Even the tightest could get him. Right now, we’re probably looking at
a second-rounder in exchange. But, could demand drive that any higher?”
This is an incredibly promising thought. I can’t speak for
everyone, but this immediately has me dreaming of a Paul Gaustad type return.
Of course the team that seems to have dominated the Santorelli rumours, the
Rangers, do not own a 1st round pick. A quality prospect would also
be a nice return, but the Rangers sitting on two 2nds is also an encouraging
outcome. They are by no means the only team looking, and with Winnipeg now in
possession of a late 1st and the need for top nine forward I will
continue to believe good things will come of this.
On Kessel and Leafs No Trade/No Movement Clauses…
“The other, more cynical, view is the team wants certain
players to leave. So, you make life uncomfortable to see if you can facilitate
it. A few have lists of teams they can be traded to (Phil Kessel has eight,
Tyler Bozak and Dion Phaneuf have a few more), but sometimes you can “grow”
that number if the player wants it badly enough. And, the way things are going
right now, it may not take too much prodding.”
Friedman has a lot more on this, but this certainly feels
like déjà vu to the Muskoka Five and their unwillingness to move. Most of what Friedman is addressing here is whether Phil Kessel is on the way out with the Leafs. A Bozak move
might help Kessel to move on, but with Kessel having eight teams on his list, he’s likely only considering teams at the top of the standings who are already capped out and not looking to make a significant move until the summer.
The following tweet from Dreger is also an interesting piece of consideration
Reviewing Kessel’s contract details. Scheduled to be paid a $4 mil bonus on July 1. Total earnings for 2014-15….$10 million.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 13, 2015
That would probably see the Kessel market open up on July 2nd.