BREAKING: Leafs Trade Franson, Santorelli to Nashville

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The first tree has burned to the ground in the scorched earth rebuild, with news that the Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for Brendan Leipsic, Olli Jokinen, and Nashville’s 2015 1st round draft pick.

Going Out

Cody Franson has had a coming out party this year, picking up 32 points in 55 games, putting him just one point away from his career high in 24 fewer games. Franson’s 1.14 points per sixty minutes rank him fifteenth among defencemen. Franson was third on the Leafs in CF% despite being put in less favourable situations than the two ahead of players ahead of him (Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly). 

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Franson gets a lot of crap for his occasional defensive gaffes, but the reality is, he makes up for them by rarely having to be in the defensive zone to begin with. He’s one of the league’s most gifted defencemen when it comes to controlling the offensive flow of the game, and he’s heading to a place where he’s been before. Franson was originally acquired from the predators in a trade that saw the Leafs ship Brett Lebda to Nashville for Franson and Matt Lombardi.

Mike Santorelli also started his career as a Predator, though these are far from the only two cities he’s played in his career. It’s been years since he’s had a season like this, acting as one of Toronto’s best two way forwards and putting up 29 points in 57 points in a “put up or shut up” season. Santorelli won the hearts of many Leafs fans with his fearless play and effort in all three zones of the ice; he makes a very effective third line forward that can play centre or right wing.

Coming In

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Brendan Leipsic was drafted 89th overall by the Predators in the 2012 Entry Draft, and has been a late bloomer for the Nashville organization. In his draft+1 year, Leipsic scored 120 points in 68 games with Portland of the WHL, and was on a 100 point pace in his draft+2.

Now twenty years old, Leipsic has spent this season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. He’s had a solid year too, scoring seven goals and adding twenty assists in 47 games, good for second in team scoring despite being the second-youngest regular skater on the roster.

Leipsic, who hails from Winnipeg, is a a bit small at 5’10, but he’s very energetic and loves throwing the body almost as much as he loves contributing offensively. He plays a style that should guarantee him NHL playing time, whether it’s as a second liner or a grinder. The Leafs now have some time to attempt to maximize his potential moving forward.

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Olli Jokinen is a name that everyone is familiar with. Once on the fringe of the league’s elite, the thirty six year old and two time 85-point score is seeing his career begin to taper off. In forty eight games this year, Jokinen has just six points; good for 0.65 points per 60 minutes, a lower rate of production than Trevor Smith or Korbinian Holzer. If I had to guess, Jokinen comes in to balance out the cap hits and possibly be a warm body if the Leafs continue to sell.

Last, we have Nashville’s first round pick from this year. Nashville are currently atop the NHL standings, meaning that they’re probably due for a lengthy playoff run. In the event that they get upset early, however, there’s a chance of this pick becoming a mid-first. I guess Leafs fans how have two teams to cheer against moving forward.

Early Thoughts

Losing Franson is a particular shame; if you remove last year, he’s been one of the league’s top offensive defencemen since making his debut in 2009. But the Leafs simply don’t have a ton of cap room, and if scorched earth is to believe, they really want to start picking up some prospects. Getting rid of a couple of pending UFA’s for a first round pick and a decent winger prospect who can help their AHL team now seems like a good start, and also means that other teams they negotiate with will be less inclined to say “you have no choice but to do this” as a negotiation tactic.

It also alerts those other teams that the Leafs are officially open for business. Let the games begin?

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  • TGT23

    As pumped as I am about the 1st round pick, ya’ll (everyone who is coming in after me to see this trade) need to look up Leipsic… That kid could be legit. Very talented offensively, a finisher who has great speed. Could be a nice little player for us.

    Can see him being a playmaker at C or sticking him on Nylander or Kadri’s wing down the road. May or may not be a top line guy but could be a very good middle 6 guy.

    Considering the very little hopes I came into this thread with, this is actually a very nice first trade for the Leafs.

    • Jeremy Ian

      This was a good trade. Leveraging the UFA’s to get as high in the draft as possible + a feisty prospect? Not bad. Jokinen may get dealt anyway.

      Where did you “look up” Leipsic? There’s some footage over at MLHS.

  • STAN

    Leipsic is a more physical version of Kozun, although not quite as speedy. It’s a good move for the Marlies and hopefully the first step in packing the Marlies with excellent potential, guys who could become regular Leafs for the next three or four seasons during this rebuild.

    As much as I’ve liked Franson, Nashville will need to solve his brain cramps. He has a tendency to overthink instead of making the simple, conservative play. Thus, some horrible giveaways.

    Santorelli, for my money, was the Leafs best, most consistent player this season. He never quit, always tried to hangh on to the puck to make plays and actually back-checked with enthusiasm. BUT, he was acquired for nothing, so when they flip Jokinen the Leafs will have that first rounder, Leipsic and another pick or prospect. Not bad.

    I also couldn’t agree more with Jeff’s last line – that with this move the Leafs have shown early that they aren’t just saying they are into a massive rebuild, they are walking the walk. That can only get the Leafs phones ringing and the offers getting stronger for what’s left.

    As for the so-called BIG GUNS (more like BIG CONTRACTS) Kessel, Phaneuf and Lupul, they likely won’t move until after the Stanley Cup is won in June.

  • Bleedblueandwhite

    So now the Leafs are collecting smallish speedy wingers, good bye to the face punchers. Leipsic is the WHL version of Connor Brown. Although LW is the weakest area for Leafs prospects. Individually, could Franson and Santorelli both brought 2nd rounders? And are 2*2nd rounders better than a low 1st?

    Jokinen shouldn’t even unpack his suitcase – I don’t think the Leafs will have his sweater on sale at the pro shop.

    Which d-man to they keep from the Marlies to replace Franson? Granberg or Percy?

  • STAN

    As I understand it right now the pick can only be as low as 29th. The cup winner picks 30th then the division winners from regular season pick based on points, then playoff teams based on points then all non payoff teams are in lottery. So if we want the pick to drop into mid 20’s the Preds have got to finish 2nd in their division. The rule is as follows:

    A composite of all Member Clubs shall be prepared by placing:
    i) First the Clubs which failed to qualify for the preceding playoffs in the order of points earned by each of them in the regular schedule of the preceding season starting with the Club having the lowest points total and followed by the Club having the next lowest points total, and so forth.
    ii) The Clubs which participated in the preceding playoffs (but had not been ranked first in their respective Divisions and had not won the Stanley Cup that season) in order of points earned by each of them in the regular schedule of the preceding season starting with the Club having the lowest total points and followed by the Club having the next lowest total points, and so forth.
    iii) The Clubs which had been ranked first in their Divisions during the next preceding season (but had not won the Stanley Cup that season) in the order of points earned by each of them in the regular schedule of the preceding season starting with the Club having the lowest total points and followed by the Club having the next lowest total points, and so forth.
    iv) The Stanley Cup winner shall select last, thus, positioning all Clubs on the list.

    In the event of a tie for any position, such tie shall be resolved by application of the rules governing the determination of final League standings. The resulting list shall constitute the order of selection.

  • STAN

    i’m sad we lost franson. should have signed him after the playoffs. he would have been a nice veteran d-man to help rielly/gardiner/percy and the other d-prospects in the future instead of phaneuf/robidas/polak. at least he went to a good team who he has history with. same with santorelli. he was a better version of mason raymond. i’ll miss them but i’m glad we got good return. both sides won the trade.