It’s the All-Star break. It’s awful. Albeit John Scott, Brent Burns, and P.K. Subban did a lot to make it less awful, but not much is happening around the league and we’ve all had way too much time to spend considering claiming Raffi Torres on waivers.
With a month to go before the trade deadline, and the standings looked in for a few days, today seems like a reasonable time to take a look at who owns which draft pick heading into the trade deadline, and how that may make some teams better trade partners for the rebuilding Leafs.
Below is a quick and dirty simple table showing pick ownership based on the information on Pro Sports Transactions. They’ve got all the necessary detail of the conditions on each pick, but for the purpose of a quick table, we’ll just note there are conditions, and that means that pick is out of play.
For the purpose of convenience I’ve also left out any picks that will need to be given up as compensation for hiring a GM or Coach in the next three years. It’s safe to assume that in most cases teams will defer giving those up until the last possible moment.
The Leafs, of course are in this situation as they need to compensate both Detroit and New Jersey for the hirings of Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello with 3rd round picks by 2018. It seems unlikely that Toronto would be in any rush to do that, despite the near record setting volume of picks they already own.
You’ll also notice that next to the Penguins it shows the Leafs having the 1st and 2nd picks from Pittsburgh. It will be one or the other (presently the Leafs would get the first). Until the conditions have been determined, the picks are out of play in regards to trades.
First of all, it’s hard not to like where the Leafs are sitting in the pre-lottery draft order. The Auston Matthews spot would be better, but having a shot at one of the Finnish players or Jakob Chychrun isn’t a bad fallback.
Secondly, it’s worth noting that the playoff-bound Coyotes presently own two first rounders, as do the potentially pushing for a playoff spot Hurricanes. Both of these teams are undergoing youth movements, but both teams also could use playoff ticket sales revenue even more.
Boston is also sitting on an extra first rounder, but I have my doubts that about whether the Leafs and Bruins can come together on something involving a 1st round pick again.
As far as high second round picks go, unfortunately most of them are also held by non-playoff teams, and Pittsburgh is presently the only playoff team with ownership of a high second that they could use to improve their playoff bound team.
The best bet, as it often is every year, is to attempt to find deals with bubble teams that are trying to make a run, but you don’t think they’ll quite get there. The Wild, Devils, Hurricanes, and Ducks are possibly the best bets currently on the outside, while teams like the Avalanche and Predators could slide in the standings and be decent options as well.
Unfortunately, the “big move” teams like the Rangers and Kings have already mortgaged their future, and don’t have 1sts to give up this year, but a number of the teams at the top of the standings have to be considering if this is their now or never run.
Compared to recent years there has been little movement in the top sixty at this point. Last year saw teams play very conservative with 1sts up until the trade deadline when panic set in, but 2nd round picks were moved freely without concern. We’re either seeing acknowledgement that this is probably a two round deep draft this year, or change in thinking where teams are beginning to attach higher value to 2nd round as well, which could be unfortunate for the Leafs with what they want to move this year.
Looking at the Leafs competition this year as sellers, I think they could benefit from the fact that teams like the Oilers, Blue Jackets, and Flames view themselves as further along in their rebuilding process and are less likely to blow up their rosters beyond some free agent moves (though the Flames do have some interesting free agents).
The Sabres are in the same boat as the Leafs, but most of their best selling plays were made last season. Mike Weber should be a decent asset for them, and Legwand is bound to find a new home, but they aren’t lined up to be a top to bottom wholesale like the Leafs.