The Toronto Maple Leafs made a minor and totally nice trade this afternoon with the Nashville Predators, acquiring forward Taylor Beck in exchange for Jamie Devane.
Beck, drafted just two spots behind Devane in the third round of the 2009 Draft, is a 6’2, 207lb right winger from St. Catherines, Ontario. In 62 games with the Predators last season, Beck scored eight goals and 16 points. Drafted out of OHL Guelph, Beck was a former linemate of current Leafs centre Peter Holland.
This is, in every conceivable way, an excellent move for the Leafs.
Devane is widely considered a bust prospect, drafted far too high, at a time when every NHL team was looking for the “next Milan Lucic.” Devane never touched a point-per-game pace during his four seasons with the Plymouth Whalers, and has scored only 15 points in 118 AHL games to date. He also went pointless in two games with Leafs two seasons ago.
It’s highly unlikely that Devane suddenly turns things around and develops into a regular NHL player, whereas Beck already has a full season under his belt.
Beck is one of 20 NHL players still eligible for salary arbitration, which figures to be a big reason why the Predators chose to move him now; Nashville still has two hearings set with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson. Currently a restricted free agent, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Toronto signs him to a new contract fairly quickly. That is, unless they want to intentionally go to arbitration with Beck in order to open up another buyout window for themselves.
If an NHL teams goes to arbitration with one of its players, they will be allowed a second opportunity to buy out a contract. That said, Toronto cannot trade for a bad contract now, get a ‘sweetener’ asset with it, and buy it out in a couple weeks – the contract and player must have been on the team’s reserve list at the previous trade deadline.
There are few contracts on Toronto’s payroll that really merit a buy-out, considering how much cap flexibility they currently enjoy. Still, it’s an interesting footnote to this trade.
Where Beck fits into the Leafs’ lineup next season is a mystery at this point. Point totals aside, Beck was a regular on one of the NHL’s top teams, so it’d be a surprise to see him back in the AHL this coming year. That said, Toronto is stacked with middling forwards on short contracts; if Beck doesn’t impress, he’d likely become one of the Marlies’ most dangerous top-six weapons.