As you’ve probably already heard, the Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for a 2015 first round pick, prospect Brendan Leipsic and veteran forward Olli Jokinen.
While the trade deadline is still a couple weeks away, today’s as good a day as any to make the first move in a “scorched earth” rebuild. And while it’d be irresponsible – nay, stupid – to discuss who won or who lost this trade this early, we certainly can discuss whether the Leafs got fair value back for their biggest trade deadline chip and, arguably, their second-biggest trade deadline chip.
After all, if you’re going to have any success in rebuilding your miserable on-ice product, you better make damn sure you set a good price on your trade pieces, and hold steady until someone is willing to pay it.
We spoke about what kinds of assets you could get back for Cody Franson at the beginning of February, when the asking price was reportedly a second round pick. In under 14 days, that price rose to a first round pick – Franson must have been garnering quite a bit of interest.
So, did the Leafs get what they asked for? I’d say so. They got pretty much exactly what they wanted.
Let’s break the deal down this way: the Predators gave up a first round pick for Franson, a prospect (Leipsic) for Santorelli, and the Leafs took on Jokinen to help balance the dollars and cents.
You can’t argue with a first round pick in return for a pending UFA who you had absolutely no way to resign. You’re actually trading from a position of weakness – it’s a good thing the demand for a defenceman was high enough that the Leafs couldn’t get squeezed.
A mid-level prospect for Santorelli, another pending UFA, seems like fair value as well. If the asking price on Santorelli had originally been a second round pick, then getting a talented, already-established-and-doing-pretty-well-so-far prospect is a nice trade off.
The X-factor is Jokinen, who’s well past his prime and about to become a free agent himself. There’s no harm in the Leafs taking on his salary in the short term, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be staying in Toronto for very long anyway. Despite him being, well, pretty bad, Jokinen is still an asset. If he can be flipped in the next two weeks for even a late round pick, that’s still a win for the Leafs.
Of course, with taking on picks and prospects, nothing is a sure thing. Still, picks and prospects are “futures”, and that’s the most important thing the Leafs can be focusing on. Bring in as many futures as you can, and develop them properly – that’s the only way to rebuild a franchise.
The Leafs did pretty well today. Who knows what other offers they had on the table, or if they could have landed more value closer to the deadline, but they set a price and they got what they wanted. That’s a good deal.