Since September we’ve been beating the dead horse of how the
Leafs are going to set the rental market at the trade deadline. We’re already
seeing it, we could see more of it, but if the Phaneuf deal was any indication,
dumping rentals isn’t the only thing the Leafs are looking to do.
The Leafs have a number of players that could be attractive
options to other teams. There are some good contracts at reasonable cap hits,
and reasonable term that should get some consideration.
This isn’t exactly a new idea being thrown out there.
Komarov is presently the Leafs leading scorer, he’s the team’s All-Star, he
makes less than $3M a year, and even if he’s on a cold streak scoring wise
(like he’s been for the past two months), his antagonizing style of play still
makes him a very attractive target.
Guys like Komarov are what GMs dream of having in a seven
game series. He’s going to drive the oppositions top line nuts all game, then
he’ll somehow manage to score the game winner in second overtime. Two nights
later he’ll be back doing the same thing or at least that’s the narrative the
Leafs should be trying to sell.
While there’s a benefit to keeping an ongoing veteran
presence with the Leafs, and Komarov seems like one of the best guys to do
that, it’s unlikely that the Leafs will ever have the chance to sell this high
on him again, possibly not even over the summer. He’s at the very least a name
that Toronto should be taking calls on.
Prior to his injury it looked like Bozak would be a strong
candidate to find himself with a new home on deadline day. His 31 points in 47
games had him on pace for his first 50 point season, and it’s very likely that
he could be leading the team in points if he didn’t have this setback.
There’s also the fact that Bozak was able to produce points
despite the departure of Phil Kessel, making Tyler seem less like a remora
feeding off of Kessel’s bounty and more like journeyman second line center
along the lines of Antoine Vermette or Mike Ribiero.
At $4.2M dollars per season, Bozak is right around the price
that you’d expect to pay for a center like him, it’s just a matter of finding a
team that wants to take him at that price instead of paying more to find someone
Playoff bound teams are generally playoff bound teams
because they do have two center options better than Bozak, but in cases where
they can afford to slot him in at the 3C position some potential suitors could
be found. Otherwise the best market for Bozak may come in the offseason.
Gardiner is included here despite the fact that the idea of
trading him should be almost non-existent. Having two strong LHD in Gardiner
and Rielly should not be something the Leafs are treating as a ridiculous
surplus, and instead looking at it as possibly the one area on the team they
don’t actively need to be trying to fill.
That being said, Gardiner is young and in his prime, he’s on
an incredibly affordable deal for the next few years and he’s a player that
every GM should be calling about if there was even a hint of him being
available. He’s slightly on the older side of the Leafs core, so if Toronto is
going even younger than a lot of us think they are going with this rebuild he’s
potential a chip to be moved.
Gardiner is a bit different than a lot of Leafs trade assets
in the sense that it would be incredibly unfortunate to see him moved strictly
for prospects and picks. Gardiner commands a bona fide NHL player in return and
that’s typically a hard thing to accomplish at the trade deadline, and when one
of your team’s biggest needs also happens to be defencemen, it’s probably best
to sit tight and come to terms with the fact that you are keeping your talented
young star for years to come.
There’s certainly some hope for relocations for players with
just one year remaining on their contracts.
Bernier could be of interest to a team willing to take a
Hunwick’s contract is practically a rental deal and cheap
minute eating defencemen have their place down the stretch.
Daniel Winnik has been banged up, but with a little rest, he
could be a decent fit for a playoff team as well, especially if they are
freeing up some salary along the way.
Colin Greening has to put in a bit more time before teams
are going to be convinced he belongs in the NHL and everyone else is injured.
It may be wishful thinking that the Leafs will be doing
something bigger than moving rentals between now and the deadline, but looking
at the Leafs roster, I’m not overly concerned about that happening.
The Leafs have parted ways with their longest term deals and
beyond that you can either make a case for it being in the best interest of the
Leafs to keep the player or that moving them wouldn’t significantly impact the
Komarov, Bozak, and Gardiner all have the potential to bring
in something of value for the Leafs, but with some degree of risk associated
with those moves. Unless there’s something truly substantial coming the Leafs
way this might not be the time for another major move.
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