According to a variety of sources, the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes have apparently been circling each other for nearly a full calendar year, potentially talking trade. That talk has ramped up again more recently with the two teams having their scouts and front office personnel attend each other’s games plenty over the last couple weeks.
With Toronto sending assistant GM Laurence Gilman to see the Canes in Buffalo last night, this topic was a favourite this morning, with media folks like Pierre LeBrun and Renaud Lavoie weighing in on the situation.
It is misleading at times to try to figure out why teams have certain scouts at certain games this time of year.
But this one on Thursday night caught my eye: Leafs AGM Laurence Gilman taking in the Hurricanes-Sabres game. No question he was there to scout Carolina, yet again. Two weeks ago he took in a Carolina game as well as two Charlotte (AHL) games.
What I don’t know for sure is why the Leafs keep monitoring the ‘Canes. Once they traded for Jake Muzzin one figured they were done scouting for blueline help, unless the Leafs still have interest in one of the ‘Canes right-handed studs. Or, in the interest of adding more muscle and talent up front, are the Leafs monitoring winger Micheal Ferland?
We’ve seen in the past that this could fizzle out and there isn’t a trade to be had, most notably when we remember the Leafs and Flames scouted the hell out of each other a couple seasons back and didn’t do a damn thing. But in the interest of trade rumour season, I got the rest of the writers at TLN to give me their best Leafs-Canes trade proposal.
I think the issue with a Carolina trade is that it is next to impossible for these teams to land on a 1 for 1 type deal, and the deal is going to get pushed bigger and bigger. There’s no doubt that the Leafs want a RD, and while Hamilton is probably the ideal target, Faulk is probably the cost effective option. Carolina wants Kapanen, but understandably that shouldn’t be something Toronto wants to do easily. At the same time, I wonder if Toronto is trying to address their salary cap issues for next season as well. My deal…
Scott Darling (to be bought out this summer)
Carolina gets what they want, Leafs get what they want. Carolina gets an overpriced player they will use, the Leafs get someone they can buy out to pay for Hamilton next season, Sparks and Mattheos are because I don’t like Sparks but I do like Mattheos.
I think the ideal situation would be to trade with Carolina in the offseason. Now, you want to keep your roster in-tact as much as you can and removing a potential player like Kapanen mid-season might be risky. I love Dougie Hamilton – contract, ability, the perfect package – but they want one of Kapanen or Johnsson and that’s tough to swallow. When the Leafs massive strength is their offense, removing a solid and contributing piece, is difficult.
But if something happens before the deadline:
(insert whatever draft pick to make it work)
Trevor van Riemsdyk
TVR is a right-handed option that’s under contract for one more year after this one and only carries a $2.3M cap hit. Same timeline with Muzzin and is worth more than his current contract. Instead of getting the big-name guy, get the solid option that makes sense financially.
The Leafs get rid of their worst contract, and no longer have to worry about the hectic Marner extension, while they get the right shot defenseman they need to bolster their lineup.
I mean, if people have no issue trading Nylander in this kind of deal, I’d imagine it’d be no problem to do the same with Marner.
One player I want from the Hurricanes, perhaps surprisingly, is not a defenseman. I’m assuming that one of their more high profile d-men will be going to a destination other than Toronto, given the addition of Jake Muzzin. Instead, the Leafs should be thinking about adding Justin Williams. Williams is a UFA at the end of the season, so this is purely a rental deal, but adding him in exchange for Ron Hainsey and some future value (prospects/picks), while Carolina retains some of the money could be an option if the Canes fail to make up ground in the playoff hunt by the deadline. Moving Connor Brown and Patrick Marleau out of the top 9, this would give the Leafs a forward unit that even Tampa Bay may not be able to compete with. I’m thinking about something like this:
Kapanen – Tavares- Marner
Hyman – Matthews – Nylander
Johnsson – Kadri – Williams
Marleau – Lindholm – Brown
2020 First Round Pick
This would make for a major upgrade for the Leafs on the right side of their blueline in the short term (Faulk is under contract at $4.8M until next summer), but they need to pay a premium to make that happen while saddling Carolina with Zaitsev’s awful contract. Honestly I don’t think this would be enough to get it done, but this is at least along the lines of how Toronto is going to have to sacrifice in order to get rid of their worst long term money problem.
ICYMI, INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) February 8, 2019
Again, the Canes and Leafs execs attending all each other’s games might not result in anything. They’re almost surely talking trade, but it’s obviously just that right now: Talk. We’ve seen in the past that the reported “Scout” lists at these games can start to take on lives of their own in the trade rumour world without anything ever coming to a head, but in the meantime we can at least we try to get an idea of how these two teams might fit together for a deal if things get serious.