The Toronto Maple Leafs have now cleared the decks of their high-profile rental players. Are bigger moves now in the offing?
On Wednesday, the Maple Leafs dealt useful depth forward Daniel Winnik – signed as an unrestricted free agent this summer – to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In return the Maple Leafs have reportedly added a second-round pick in 2016, a fourth-round pick in 2015, and farmhand forward Zach Sill, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. The deal has now been officially confirmed by the club.
Sill, 26, is an American Hockey League grinder and is presumably in the deal just because the Penguins needed to open a contract slot. The veteran minor leaguer hasn’t scored at a rate that suggests he’ll ever be useful really in the show.
The Maple Leafs have also reportedly retained half of Winnik’s salary in the trade:
Maple Leafs retain half of pro-rated portion of Winnik’s $1.3 million salary.
— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) February 25, 2015
That may cause some to roll their eyes, or even throw their hands up in frustration, but it’s just the cost doing business and maximizing your return. If Pittsburgh’s the team willing to part with a second-round pick (and more to), but they have cap concerns that make it tough for them to complete the deal, you may as well help them out – especially when you’re a club like the Maple Leafs, for whom money is no object.
All things considered it’s not a huge return, but considering that the Leafs took a late-summer flier on Winnik by signing him to a one-year contract, this is like found money. In a season that’s gone all wrong, this is a tidy spot of asset management for Brendan Shanahan and the Maple Leafs.