Tonight the NHL Playoffs could be done and with it televised hockey until September. Soak it in, enjoy it, but also ask yourself, “how does this affect the Leafs?”
How the playoffs ending effects the Leafs is that all of these trade bait, free agent signing, and draft preview posts we’ve been writing will go from being something that might happen later on, become things that could happen right away, and we enter the most exciting season. THE OFFSEASON!!!
Yesterday, TSN blessed us with the most water cooler-y of lists, the offseason trade bait board. There aren’t any Leafs on the list, but it certainly still draws interest from Leafs fans, as the list does include 8 RD, a significant former Leaf, and some other really interesting names…
There’s a lot to discuss here, so let’s go through the entire list as quickly as possible…
- Erik Karlsson: It’s safe to say that the Leafs acquiring Erik Karlsson would be an absolute dream, but with teams like Vegas and the New York Rangers sitting on a stockpile of assets and cap space to make this work, along with the fact the Senators will have little interest in seeing Karlsson play for their rival, we can probably ignore him. Dubas would be insane to at least not test the waters on this, but reality is we should let this one go.
- Ryan O’Reilly: With Bozak likely leaving there is a need to firm up the 1-2-3 down the middle option for the Leafs, but again this is a division rival the Leafs would be dealing with and O’Reilly isn’t going to be cheap. Personally I can also add that no matter how good he is at hockey I wouldn’t be excited about the Leafs adding a player who drunkenly crashed his truck into a Tim Hortons.
- Mike Hoffman: Adding wingers is the furthest thing from a priority for the Leafs, so we’ll move on quickly here.
- Jeff Skinner: Similar to Hoffman, in that wing isn’t a priority, but at same time the Leafs wouldn’t be dealing with the Senators here and may want to replace JVR’s scoring externally if they don’t plan on bringing him back. With other teams already lining up for Skinner the price is probably already too high for Toronto.
- Max Pacioretty: LOL, no. Hopefully Bergevin gets fleeced.
- Philipp Grubauer: Maybe his trade will set a high price that the Leafs can then use to get a worthwhile return on Garret Sparks for. It’s safe to say the Leafs will be looking to subtract, not add in goal.
- Canucks 7th Overall Pick: Let’s take a moment and really appreciate how terrible Jim Benning is at his job. This is fantastic. If I’m the Leafs I’m definitely curious about this pick because there is potential to add a significant prospect to the organization like Quinn Hughes or Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson: He might be a LD, but he’s definitely a chance for the Leafs to upgrade at that position. Explore this for sure.
- Phil Kessel: Phil probably isn’t coming back, but it’s still fun to think about.
- P.K. Subban: This was my “WTF?” moment on the list. I had no idea that Subban might be available and could potentially be an option for the Leafs. This probably warrants a lot more discussion than I’m going to commit to here, but you know how most of us treat William Nylander like he’s untouchable? Here’s a player that may change that.
- Justin Faulk: Welcome back to planet Earth and realistic RD options. Faulk would be a definite upgrade for the Leafs and the Canes are open for business. They’ll be worth talking to.
- Noah Hanifin: Same as above, except he’s a LD. As the story goes, Hanifin is the player Babcock wanted the Leafs to take when they drafted Mitch Marner. Here’s a chance to potentially have both, even though it seems like Hanifin to Vancouver seems to be what’s going down and we can assume the Canucks 7th overall pick is how they are going to do it.
- Alex Petrovic: Here’s the lowest cost RD option we’ve seen so far, and definitely a guy who can help the Leafs. Think of him as a physical Martin Marincin, who plays on the right side, but with slightly less fancy numbers than Marincin. He’d be a good add for the Leafs and shouldn’t be too expensive.
- Dougie Hamilton: Here’s some gas for that Hamilton to the Leafs fire that seems to have been burning for the past two years
- Jacob Trouba: Same as Hamilton, but I want this one more.
- Rasmus Ristolainen: ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww
- Conor Sheary: Does he come with Sidney Crosby?
- Milan Lucic: I’m curious to see what team expects to be bad enough for the next half decade that they are willing to take the Oilers accompanying gift basket of prospects and picks to unload a broken down player with what is probably the worst contract in the league. Lucic’s NMC should make that extra fun.
- Max Domi: Tie fans and London Knights fans need to cool their jets because no good comes from Domi joining the Leafs.
- Alex Galchenyuk: He won’t be a Leaf, so let’s just enjoy Bergevin ridding the Canadiens of their last assets.
- Andre Burkovsky: He doesn’t fit a Leafs need at all.
- Chris Tanev: Tanev is another player who has been discussed for what seems like forever. His injury history makes me feel like we’ll be acquiring Mike van Ryn for a second time and that’s a mixed bag. On one hand he’ll be great when he plays, but it seems like we don’t when and how often that will be. For a lower than he’ll probably go for price I’d happily see Tanev on the Leafs.
- Vladislav Namestnikov: Rangers lost interest in him pretty quickly. Can’t imagine him being on the Leafs radar at all.
- Sam Reinhart: I do like Sam Reinhart and can’t imagine why the Sabres would deal him. I don’t see how he could fit into the Leafs, so I’ll just be happy if I get the chance to watch him play for a team other than Buffalo.
- Corey Perry: Never say never, but I really want to say never.
Circling Back Around
The names that should be sticking out to Leafs fans are probably Subban, Faulk, Hanifin, Hamilton, Trouba, Tanev, Ekman-Larsson, and Petrovic. The need is on the blueline and all eight of these players would represent a massive upgrade, but at least six of these guys would involve paying a huge price.
Tanev and Petrovic are probably the most accessible players for the Leafs if they aren’t wanting to pay a lot, but also come at cost of not being as impactful and while I don’t necessarily want to promote a risk averse approach to the trade market, I think I’m doing just that.
I’m sure we’ll explore a lot of these trade options in closer detail leading up to the draft and July 1st, and I’m equally sure that a lot of names on this list are purposely provocative and the players stand little chance of moving. That said, no one is sliding into my DMs with inside information and I’ll take TSN at the word that there is some possibility something could happen with these players and we can dare to dream about them as Leafs, or in the case of Ristolainen and Lucic, have nightmares about them.