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Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

Wild or Ducks could be a potential trade partner for Leafs around expansion draft

It’s perhaps a little early to begin breaking down potential roster moves the Leafs could explore this offseason, but with so much on tap in the next eight weeks, including the playoffs, expansion draft, prospect draft, and even the NHL awards (which Toronto will finally be a part of), we want to get to this stuff as any kind of tidbits start to become available. And with the locker cleanout happening yesterday, along with a few quotes from management and the players, that created a jump-off point for a few topics, most notably the market for defencemen – something that remains a concern for probably a third of the teams in the league, including the Leafs.

TSN’s Pierre Lebrun provided a radio spot for 1050 in Toronto earlier this afternoon, and quickly touched on how the Leafs might examine that sort of move in the not-so-distant future:

I thought (Lou) said something telling yesterday when I asked about the defensive trade market…and his answer was “Don’t underestimate the impact of the Expansion Draft on potentially unearthing players that you didn’t think could be available”…I think there could be a lot moving in the month of June.

Regarding June 17 as the date for protected lists to be submitted by the other 30 teams:

Anaheim and Minnesota are two teams to really watch around those dates because they’re not just going to let Vegas take a really good defenceman for nothing – just not going to happen. So they’re either going to trade with Vegas directly, or they’re going to trade with a team like Buffalo, Toronto, or the thirteen other teams that are looking for defencemen.

Each of these clubs has a relative wealth of defencemen in their prime years, which we’ve discussed a number of times here at this site. But if we want to zoom in, the two most likely targets for a team like Toronto would be Josh Manson of the Ducks and Jonas Brodin of the Wild. Why is that? Well, essentially the no-movement clauses handed out to Jason Pominville and Kevin Bieksa have put these two teams in a tough situation in terms of protections with the Vegas draft approaching, and they’ll likely have to make some difficult blue-line decisions. The potential exposure of Manson and Brodin will very much be a part of that, but like Lebrun alluded to, they’re more likely to trade their way out of losing them for nothing.

In terms of the players themselves, both these guys are strong at even-strength, and should still have plenty of their best years in them. Brodin is just 23, while Manson will turn 26 next season. Brodin has more in terms of offensive upside, while Manson appears to be much more of a true shutdown defender, and that bears out in their numbers.

(via DataRink)

Keep in mind these are 5v5 figures, and Brodin gets powerplay minutes while Manson doesn’t at all. The latter is stronger in the run of play at evens though, even on a Randy Carlyle coached team, and has that right shot that so many coaches are in search of these days. Both seem to be totally worthwhile as potential targets for the Leafs, at least in my eyes.

Age Contract Status
Josh Manson 25 $0.825M to 2018 (RFA)
Jonas Brodin 23 $4.17M to 2021 (UFA)

In terms of cost control, these both present appealing options. Manson’s a late bloomer, and still on an absurdly cheap deal until he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Brodin, on the other hand, is into his first UFA deal but at a totally manageable dollar amount for a top four. Considering he’ll be only 27 when it expires, there isn’t much to worry about there in terms of decline or lost value – it’s all prime age seasons. In that respect, both players should be examples of ‘what you see is what you’re getting’.

Now, of course, this is all speculation and a little bit of wishful thinking, but unless Lou comes out of left field with a blockbuster this summer, this could be the sort of deal we see come to fruition. And no doubt the usual suspects like Van Riemsdyk and some prospects will have their names get some play in terms of rumoured returns. That talk will only get louder in June as the Vegas draft and prospect draft happen just days apart from each other (the 21st and 23rd, respectively). Might as well get a head start on that now.

    • ballballrun

      What I’d like to read is how these guys stack up against Carrick, or Marincin, or whomever esle we think grabbing these guys will shake loose at the draft …

      • Harte of a Lion

        Marchenko will probably be the defenceman the Leafs expose so both Carrick and Marincin appear to be in next years plans. It’s funny how everyone was sh*ting on the Hunlak monster until the last 3 weeks of the season and the playoffs when it was finally apparent what both brought to the table. If the Leafs don’t find a trade for a top four defenceman that suits them, I can see them bringing both back next season as the third pairing. Possibly adding Franson for depth on the right side and even taking a swing at Kulikov. IMO, Kulikov is a better defenceman than he showed in his limited time with the Sabres.
        With Gardiner and Rielly, we have two 1B defencemen who both can develop further under Babcock and his coaches. Gardiner finally broke through this season and during the playoffs up against Backstrōm and Ovie, he played the best hockey of his career. I hope they extend him if he will accept a team friendly contract. Rielly finally rewarded his coaches and fan base by saving his best hockey for the Caps. Carrick is a month younger than Rielly but has only 120 games experience, 72 under Babcock. Zaitsev is 24 and though he had some bumps, he has shown the skill to be a top 4 defenceman in the NHL. Each of those FOUR will continue to get better so when it comes to the overall health of Toronto’s top four, there can always be improvements however I believe the team is in much better condition than the naysayers would have you believe. I hope Justin Holl has a spectacular training camp as his game should translate to the NHL.
        If the Leafs can pry Manson from the Ducks for a reasonable price, I’m in favour however with Dermott, Nielsen, Valiev, Mattinen, Greenway and Middleton on the left side and Holl and Lindgren on the right, the prospect cupboard is not brimming but it’s certainly not bare. Adding Callan Foote this draft will balance out the right/left a bit more.
        (Dermott plays his off side)

  • Stan Smith

    All the talk about Shattenkirk and lookng for a stud top pair guy, I think these are the type of dmen the Leafs should be looking for. I would give Manson the edge based strictly on the fact he is a righty. If they dealt for one of them, they would have to leave Carrick unprotected, but I am not sure the Leafs are sold on him anyway.

    • Kanuunankuula

      Manson would probably compliment Rielly / Gards better, being a RHS and being a shot suppressor. Rielly/JG increase shot generation and especially Rielly bleeds shots against, so pairing them up with someone like Manson mitigates that weakness. That’s why Rielly + Tanev worked so good at the worlds last year. Tanev’s another name I’d be calling about.

    • Gary Empey

      Marchenko will likely be the required Dman exposed but Marincin is also likely to be exposed as the Leafs can only protect three Dmen. When you look at the good, young, forwards the Leafs have, eg. Leipsic, Rychel, Leivo, some of which will likely be exposed, it seems likely Vegas may choose one of them. A lot will depend on what they cherry pick off the other 29 teams. Unless some of those teams make a deal prior to the expansion draft, Vegas will have some really nice choices available.

    • Radio

      You never go wrong by paying for high level guys. Its when you overpay for Kulikov’s and Daley’s that you get into trouble. Its not that they aren’t good or useful players. Its that depth guys just don’t move the needle as much as you’d want.

    • The Russian Rocket

      I don’t understand why people short change Carrick. He just turned 23 this month. He’s still got a lot of growth left and he already played pretty well in our Top 4.

  • Gary Empey

    Lamoriello comment “Don’t underestimate the impact of the Expansion Draft on potentially unearthing players that you didn’t think could be available” is very telling. It likely means he has been taking calls seeing what the Leafs might offer in return for an established Dman.

  • Kevin

    Most people would agree the Leafs at present have only 3 top 4 defensemen and are weaker in that respect than most teams in the league. Anaheim and Minnesota are obvious trade partners but there should be other teams with protection problems that have a defenseman who could complement Rielly, Gardiner and Zaitsev and play in the top four. Some teams that come to mind are the St. Louis, Nashville and Florida among others. The trick for management will be to identify the right player(s) in order to improve the team. The same thing can be said for forwards. The Leafs need to identify players that may become available due to the expansion draft that would be an upgrade at the forward position. It may be worth exposing a fringe prospect like Leipsic or Rychel if it means obtaining someone who can be an upgrade (long term).