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TLN Roundtable: Expansion draft edition!

Ah, the most boring expansion draft in the league.

The question this weak was pretty simple: Who would you protect in the expansion draft?

There were two lists that came out of this exercise.

List one

Forwards: Kadri, Komarov, JVR, Bozak, Leipsic, Leivo, Brown
Defence: Gardiner, Rielly, Carrick
Goalie: Andersen

Evan Presement:

I’m assuming this is going to look like a pretty standard list when it comes to who the Leafs should protect, but with one key difference: my list does not include Matt Martin.

The two candidates who seem most likely to be left exposed for Martin are Josh Leivo and Brendan Leipsic. Protecting Leivo, to me, is an absolute no brainer. He was great when given the chance to play in the NHL and only sat due to his inability to play on the PK. Meanwhile, Leipsic had a fantastic season in the AHL and seems like he can be a useful NHLer going forward.

As Leaf fans, we’ve been spoiled with the quality of prospects we’ve acquired over the past few seasons. So spoiled, in fact, that I think we tend to undervalue guys like Leivo and Leispic. Also, Vegas is set to take on a number of big contracts and I don’t think it’ll be hard for them to stay away from Martin in the draft.

Ryan Hobart:

Out of this, there isn’t much of any value for the Vegas Knights to steal. Most likely it would be the closest thing to a prospect available, Kerby Rychel. The other option would be to select a depth defenseman in Marincin/Marchenko, but with the high number of those available in the expansion draft, I think Vegas will take the possible future value instead. All in all, not much of a loss for the Maple Leafs.

Ryan Fancey:

In my perfect scenario the Leafs could unload Bozak for blue-line help before expansion and then protect that player (instead of Carrick) and Rychel, but in reality it’s likely that Rychel is claimed by Vegas. I wrote a while ago that the team would likely lose Leivo or Rychel, but since Leivo is further along and the club did a lot to avoid losing him this past year, I think there’s a better chance he stays. McPhee might have the option to pick either, though, if Toronto uses a protection slot on Matt Martin.

Jeff  Veillette: 

My biggest debate throughout the season was Kerby Rychel or Leo Komarov, based strictly on maximum asset value. As the season progressed, Komarov pushed through his offensive regression and proved his defensive worth, giving him the slight edge.

In this scenario, I think Martin Marincin gets taken Vegas, as he’s a cheap defenceman with promising underlying numbers that they can experiment with more as an expansion team with no expectation. With that said, the Leafs are totally protecting Matt Martin and they’ll more likely lose whichever one of Josh Leivo or Brendan Leipsic comes off the list.
Dylan Fremlin:

This is pretty easy, in my opinion, which is a good thing for the Leafs. The most valuable player they could stand to lose would be either Kerby Rychel or Martin Marincin, who you’d like to keep, but losing either one wouldn’t make a huge impact.

List two

Forwards: JVR, Bozak, Kadri, Komarov, Brown, Leipsic, Rychel
Defense: Rielly, Gardiner, Carrick
Goalie: Andersen

Scott Maxwell:

It’s a pretty straightforward for the Leafs this year. Protect everyone with significant value, and that leaves you with two forward spots. Leipsic is the no brainer of the bunch, and then either Rychel or Leivo. I went with Rychel because I think he has a higher ceiling than Leivo, but I wouldn’t be angry if the Leafs went with Leivo. I WOULD be angry they picked Martin though.

Worst case scenario, the Leafs lose Marincin or one of Leivo or Rychel. Best case scenario, Vegas takes Martin, and gets rid of that contract from the Leafs.

Adam Laskaris: 

In the modified words of Herb Brooks in Miracle, I’m sick and tired of hearing what a good hockey player Josh Leivo is. Not really, but I think a lot of people seem to overestimate exactly his value and potential impact on the Leafs roster.  He’s a career 0.44 points per game player, which is… the exact same rate Connor Brown put up this year. There’s an argument to be made about his icetime as he produced very well in a limited role this season, but conversely he put up 3 points in his first 20 NHL games as well. While there’s likely a place for Leivo in an NHL lineup somewhere, if it’s not Toronto you won’t see me too concerned about it. At his peak (which could be right now, he’s already 24) Leivo probably won’t top 45 points in a season. If the Leafs lose a 3rd round pick from 2011 who’s played 41 NHL games, there shouldn’t be any harm in that.

Kerby Rychel, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily a lock to be a major contributor either, but has shown the ability to produce at a similar AHL rate to Leivo while being two draft classes behind him.

(If you’d like to see my picks in video format with a further explanation, click here for my interview on Canadia Hockey with Matthew Henriques.)

    • JB#1

      Gary, I don’t remember you being so negative on Martin before. Was there something that changed your mind about him or did you always feel that way towards him and I missed it?

      • Gary Empey

        I was being sarcastic. The 4th line finally came alive in the last quarter of the season. It seems one can’t read an article on here without someone saying Martin’s contract is a huge mistake and holding the Leafs back, implying the Leafs need to get rid of him ASAP.
        Matthews ELC $2,850,000 performance bonus was more than Martin earns each year. Marner and Nylander likely the same or close. At the same time I read here people proposing to sign slow, washed up players like Franson and Thornton for two or three years at $3 million and $5 million respectively.

  • DukesRocks

    I don’t see how most of the panel have Leipsic as a no-brainer? My biggest problem with the Leafs is, most of their offensive skill are in bodies 6″ and under. I don’t care about what a team can do during the regular season, I care more about balance (skill and toughness) in the preparation for the playoffs. I don’t see a future with Leipsic as a Leaf. I can certainly see players like Martin, Rychel and Leivo having more value over Leipsic. I guarantee Leipsic is exposed, while Martin will be protected. Mostly due to loyalty, because Lou signed him and Babs likes him. Barring a trade, I’m hoping Rychel and Leivo find their way onto the 17/18 roster.

  • JB#1

    I would be shocked to see Martin exposed as I think the Leafs’ brass highly values what he brings to the team.

    Therefore, my list of six protected forwards would look like this – Kadri, JVR, Bozak, Komarov, Martin, and Brown.

    This leaves one spot available and three possibilities to fill that spot – Rychel, Leipsic, and Leivo.

    Rychel is the youngest at 22, followed by Leipsic at 23, and Leivo at 24.

    Based on what Babcock said the Leafs need for next season, RHD and a big winger, I would be surprised to see Leipsic protected. As Dukes says, he’s a smaller winger which the Leafs currently have in abundance.

    That leaves Rychel and Leivo.

    I think Babcock has already made his feelings about Leivo known based on how he used, or didn’t use him last season, so by default I see Rychel being protected.

    Which sort of makes sense as he is the youngest and potentially has the biggest upside, though I am not sure that would be much more than a 3rd line winger or potentially as a replacement for Martin on the 4th line when Martin’s contract runs out.

  • lab16

    A couple of trades and the protection issues are gone. Hopefully for a RH Dman. Go through the CF Exp draft Tool and take a look at how many #4 Dmen are available to Vegas; there are a lot of good Dmen. These are the Dmen the Leafs should take a look at in a trade. Vegas would be stupid to trade with any team except teams in the Leafs position where nothing of note can be gained without a deal.

    Vegas can pillage the other teams by not making a deal with any of them. Teams will trade those #4’s to avoid this but the receiving teams will just have an extra former #4 unprotected. Only the Leafs, Canes, and the Devils, and maybe Dallas have the necessary cap space, and opening to make a deal. Most all of the others stand to lose a good player.
    It is in the Leafs interest to make a deal with Vegas in advance to free them up to make other deals to desperate teams.

    Then after the draft, cull the farm hands in a trade to Vegas; they need to stock their cupboard. This will trim contracts for the Leafs.

    Question: How does Chicago plan on protecting Pokka? Best of luck Hawks! You have no cap space!

    • Gary Empey

      It now seems likely Vegas will overstock on D-men and goalies, with the intention to trade some of them quickly to pump up there top six forwards.
      There is a good possibility after the protection lists are finally posted the Leafs will have Vegas pick a defenceman for them. In return the Leafs will offer some very good young prospects to Vegas, or perhaps a good forward instead. Teams like Tampa, and Colorado are rumoured to have good top forwards who they wish to move for defence. So maybe the Leafs will not wish to compete in the bidding war that could take place.