So, uhh… another lazy Monday? I can’t believe the Leafs didn’t make any moves at all. There is absolutely nothing to talk about today. Oh well. We’ll just have to settle for what’s in this mailbag over here.
@__Pete__33 asked: If the Leafs don’t sign Steven Stamkos, what’s your second option? John Tavares in 2018 doesn’t count.
The thing with Stamkos is that he’s attractive to the Leafs because of his age and superstar status. 26-year-old Elite Forwards don’t hit the market ever year, or, well… ever. Outside of that, though, the Leafs don’t really need to come out swinging during free agency. Toronto’s benefit is that they have the cap flexibility to make serious power moves when the opportunity arises, and outside of Stamkos, there isn’t a power move to be made right now that won’t cost serious assets.
At that point, you either keep William Nylander at centre and lock up a low-cost right winger, or you make the transition anyway and hold onto Tyler Bozak for another year. The Leafs shouldn’t just go out and overpay for a second-tier talent just because they lost out on the cream of the crop. That’s how you get yourself in trouble in the long run.
@ReasonableOnion asked: Which Leafs prospect, fringe or otherwise, is most likely to be traded this season?
I’d expect Stuart Percy to be in some sort of trade package by the start of the fall. I had high hopes for him, but it seems that his progression as a player has stalled in the past two years, and his head injuries certainly haven’t helped him. He’s expansion draft eligible soon to be waiver eligible as well, meaning that the Leafs could lose him for nothing if the team doesn’t make a move in the next few months.
@ChewieD23 asked: Do you think the Leafs have any Left Wingers in their system who can be effective on the first line when the team is competitive?
Big lines don’t need three star forwards. They need three guys who can hold the game above water, but not every team is the 2007 Ottawa Senators and the Leafs don’t need to have a Dany Heatley. Assuming Toronto throws Nylander and Marner over to the right side and has Matthews and… a great centre in the middle, then having a useful but not star tier left winger could make sense. In that case, somebody like Andreas Johnson, Connor Brown or Dmytro Timashov could fit the billing.
Of course, if there’s a magic fountain of cheap, elite left wingers, adding one would be awesome too.
@cameron_rennie asked: Who would you prefer for the Leafs? Tyson Barrie, Hampus Lindholm, or Seth Jones?
I’m pretty okay with the Leafs not going after a defenseman this offseason (we’ll go into more detail in the answer below), but if they were, Barrie would likely come at the lowest cost. Lindholm is the best of the two speculated defencemen, that Anaheim has in their pocket and they one they most want to keep, so his cost won’t come cheap. Jones’ relatively recent debut in Columbus will mean that it would take a significant trade haul or a big offer sheet to pull him away. I’m not convinced that the Avalanche have it in them to play hardball right now, especially with the gossip that the team wants to “go for it” as soon as possible. If the Leafs can pitch them assets that they feel help them now, that would probably be the best way of maximizing value while still acquiring a player in their class.
@HockeyMadness19: Who would you give up for Frederik Andersen and Cam Fowler?
Similar goes for Fowler. I thought the world of him in his draft year, but believe it or not, it’s already been six years. Today, the jury is still wondering if he’s more than a middling possession player, and while he’s a safe bet for 30 points a year, it’s been a few years since he’s chased 40. Is that worth giving up big assets for, especially since it would effectively lock in Toronto’s three protected defencemen for the Expansion draft? I’m not sold.
If you think you can shuffle around some of the mid-tier roster players and B prospects that look closer to longshots to make it happen, sure. But Anaheim will likely get better offers and that’s okay. The Leafs in a position where they don’t have to settle for “good enough” right now.
As for Andersen, probably the 30th overall pick and a second rounder in 2017. I’d also give him a 5-year extension at about $5 million per.