With the trade deadline happening, well, tomorrow, it’s a great time to take a look at who’s left on the Leafs’ trade board, and where they might end up.
There’s combination of criteria considered when selecting this set of top trading partners for the Leafs, including rumours connecting the team with the Leafs, the other team having assets the Leafs should want, the Leafs having assets the other team wants, the history of these teams doing deals together, and the frequency of our writers picking them as a Top 5 trade destination for any number of players. (You can see them all here).
In no particular order, here are five teams likely to be involved with the Leafs before the deadline is up.
(Note: San Jose, despite being a popular choice amongst our writers, was excluded for having already made two big trades with Toronto and the low likelihood of returning for a third trip.)
The Flames were featured three times out of fourteen in our ‘Top 5 Trade Destinations’ posts, for Lupul, Bernier, and Komarov.
However, there’s another major reason why some believe that a deal between these two Canadian teams is in the mix.
Over the past few weeks, Flames scouts have been present at virtually every Leafs game.
Flames have been scouting lot of Leafs recent games. My guess is Reimer and Bernier part of what they’d be interested in.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 21, 2016
Reimer’s obviously gone now, but Jonathan Bernier remains. No word if the Leafs would be comfortable parting with both of their NHL-experienced goalies, but it’s not out of the question to put Bernier in as part of the fire-sale approach.
While the Flames’ scouting might not be a sign, the Flames have gotten a little too comfortable with the Leafs brass to not be at least discussing a deal, even if nothing materializes, as is often the case around the deadline.
Don Sweeney’s Boston Bruins made waves for what was almost a consensus view as poor asset management around draft time, but the GM hasn’t made a trade since the summer months.
Jake Gardiner, Matt Hunwick, and P-A Parenteau, all were picked as options to be moved from our staff, along with Roman Polak and Shawn Matthias, who’ve since been moved to San Jose and Colorado, respectively.
Gardiner is likely too valuable to be moved for just anything, but moving Parenteau for assets would be seen as likely if not near-guaranteed. Hunwick and his $1.2 million cap hit and ability to eat up minutes well could be of use to the Bruins, or at least that’s the narrative the Leafs are hoping the Boston brass will believe.
The main reason why Dallas is seen as a popular trade partner for many teams is pretty obvious: they’re really good, but they could always be better in picking up a few rentals for a playoff run. For a team that hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in a generation, a year where the team’s currently second overall in the NHL seems like an ideal time to stock up and go all-out for a championship push, selling off picks and prospects in the process.
The Stars were the most popular team in our predictions featuring six times, with Gardiner, Hunwick, Daniel Winnik, and Brad Boyes all seen as options (as well as Polak and Matthias), and have yet to make any moves this year. With a number of potential salary dumps coming back to Toronto, (Ales Hemsky, anyone?) it’s possible there will be some swaps between the green-and-white and blue-and-white over the next day or so.
Carolina’s worked their way into playoff contention, perhaps surprisingly, after picking in the top-five last season. Still four points out of a wildcard spot and having played three more games than Pittsburgh, who holds the second wild-card spot, they’re right in the bubble zone of the time where management has to figure out exactly what they want from this season.
We dangled NHL veterans Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Bernier as trade bait, (along with the already moved Reimer), but there’s no reason they couldn’t be looking for any of the Leafs’ other forward or defencemen.
If they’re smart about it, Carolina has to be thinking long-term and isn’t a real championship contender, but may do their best to try to buy their ticket to the postseason this year. Either way, they’ve still got some roster upgrades to make, and could be looking at cap hits of $4.2 Million (Bozak) $4.1 (Kadri) or $4.15 (Bernier) to bring down to the Hurricanes.
Bozak and Phil back together? It could be yours for the low, low price of a 2nd round pick? While Bozak would be the easy target to look at simply due to his history with Penguins winger Phil Kessel, it’s obvious that Pittsburgh hasn’t been lighting up the league like many assumed they would at the time of the summer acquisition of the former Leaf.
It’s clear they’d like to add a few pieces to put them back among the league’s most feared teams, as it’s never a bad idea to dream big when you’ve got Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin down the middle, and will definitely be active on deadline day.
At the same time, Bozak’s produced this season at a decent level away from Phil- and could be lured to Pennsylvania in an attempt to regain some chemistry he had alongside #81.
However, Bozak’s been allegedly on the market for well over a year now, and still has yet to be moved – so it may be another Leaf they’re looking to target.
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