Source: Aaron Doster via USA TODAY
Yesterday, a piece was released on Sinbin.Vegas, the newly released blog following the newly introduced Vegas Golden Knights. The piece discussed the possibility of a back room deal between Lou Lamiorello, Maple Leafs General Manager, and George McPhee, his counterpart in Las Vegas.
The piece by Ken Boehlke took a segment of conjecture on Hockey Central and ran with it, proposing some very good insight on why the Golden Knights might have a deal in place to take Eric Fehr in the expansion draft from the Maple Leafs. The deal would send some sort of future value to Vegas to protect the other assets the Leafs will have to expose in the expansion draft. Example names might include Marchenko, Marincin, Komarov, Martin, Leivo, or Rychel, depending on how the Leafs decide to set up their protections.
The actual quote from Doug Maclean on Hockey Central at noon (which picks up around 10:00 here) on March 2nd was during a discussion regarding the trade deadline that the Maple Leafs had. Specifically, he had this quote regarding the acquisition of Eric Fehr: “So the rationale for doing him would be, number 1, he’s a guy you can expose. He’s a guy that George [McPhee] might take because he’s 31, he’s $2 million, he’s won a Cup, they were together. And you don’t know if was already a pre-arranged deal with Lou and…”
Doug paused as Kypreos took over, “That’s one of those side deals that we might be talking about.” Doug continued later, “That may not be a deal done with Lou, but… it might be.”
Let’s be absolutely, 100 percent clear: there are no sources that back up Lou making a deal with George McPhee.
That doesn’t mean we can’t dream about it though, right? It certainly doesn’t mean that Sinbin can’t dream about it. It’s seems like a deal that makes sense for the Leafs. And if the future value is high enough, it’s a deal that makes sense for the Golden Knights as well.
One of the biggest positives coming out of the Corrado deal is that Fehr is already signed through next year. He has played the requisite 40 games this season or 70 games in the past two seasons to be one of the minimum two forwards that the Leafs must expose that in the expansion draft. Matt Martin will likely be the other of the two forwards to expose that meet this games-played requirement. The Leafs would also need to expose 1 defenseman meeting the 70/40 rule, but both Marincin and Marchenko (the likely exposees) will cover them there.
Prior to acquiring Fehr, it was looking like one of Bozak or Komarov would have to be exposed, or the Leafs would have to give an extension to someone on the roster who would meet those requirements (Ben Smith if he were to play just 5 more games). Given the links that Maclean and Boehlke identified between McPhee and Fehr, I like exposing Fehr a lot better even without the possibility of a side deal.
Now let’s say that a side deal does exist: what are the Leafs going to have to pay?
I wanted to take a look at the deals Maclean himself made as side deals with the Columbus Blue Jackets before the expansion draft. You can find them here at nhltradetracker.com (date June 23, 2000). However, there were a lot of moving parts there, probably too many to break down accurately. And to combine that with the age of the deals not likely being applicable to today’s NHL, it seems a valueless exercise.
As such, we’ll continue the conjecture. The price might be a pick in order to protect all of the Leafs assets they will look at exposing. What round would be sufficient? A 3rd rounder might be reasonable, given the relative value of Fehr versus some of the other assets the Leafs are protecting. If you had to trade Marincin or Rychel for Fehr, what would be the pick you would want back? That’s the sort of approach McPhee will have here.
Or maybe it’s another prospect that the Leafs send back? A B minus sort of prospect like JD Greenway or Martins Dzierkals. Possibly Vegas is more interested in players that have a year or two of development already, as opposed to a draft pick.
Of course, it is also possible that the Leafs will choose not to make this kind of deal. Perhaps they are fine with the risk of losing Marincin or Rychel to save paying future value to ensure they stay. Given that the Leafs aren’t exactly a perfectly built depth chart, it may not be prudent to give up future value to keep it together. Ultimately, we’ll just have to see what happens on expansion draft day. Perhaps we’ll see a draft pick go to Vegas, along with their selection of Eric Fehr. Only then will we know that a back room deal truly occured.