Over the summer, local handsome man Bobby Cappucino wrote his groundbreaking piece on the 17 trades that could turn the Leafs into cup contenders. As Bobby is always correct in his analysis, I think many of us committed the assets required to memory, Connor Brown, Jeremy Bracco (or Andrew Nielsen) and a 2nd need to go in order to bring the Leafs to promise the land.
Well, Connor Brown is still here, so is Bracco, and the 2nd. Other future assets like Grundstrom, Durzi, the 1st round pick, and yes, even Andrew Nielsen have moved on. So while Brown, Bracco, and a 2nd is still theoretically possible, I wonder if it should be as the Leafs need to consider what they have in the way of young assets before shipping them out.
Bracco seems like someone we should want to keep
Bracco is just turning 22 next month, and in his two AHL seasons, he’s shown steady improvement, and has put up 81 points in his first 98 games, and has been above a point per game in his second season. In addition to this, Bracco still has a very team friendly entry level cap hit next season, which should have a lot of value to the Leafs, as there is a real risk that some offensive talent might need to depart this summer and an affordable replacement will be required.
Of course if Bracco has appeal to the Leafs, he probably has some appeal to other teams as well, and if a team is looking to start a rebuild, Bracco is the type of asset a team should want. When we did our prospect rankings this summer, our esteemed panel put him as the 5th best prospect in the organization, citing his playmaking, and skating as his biggest selling points. At the time he had an unceremonious AHL rookie season, but the fact that he’s steadily built on that is encouraging.
Bracco is not someone the Leafs should be pushing out the door for a rental, and should be cautious about including in any trade, as he’s the last legitimate offensively gifted prospect left in the organization. That being said, if one of Mr. Cappucino’s trades is possible, we can consider life after Bracco.
The Prospect List
So that was our list. We can safely say that Andreas Johnsson has graduated to the NHL, and that Sandin and Liljegren are still held in the highest esteem, although many would not slot Sandin in ahead of Liljegren. It’s safe to say that the same cap implications that are important to keeping Bracco, also apply to Timothy Liljegren, and Rasmus Sandin, and anything less than a franchise defining trade would exclude them from being including in a trade.
That leaves a lot of others to figure out, and perhaps it makes sense to update the list. By no means is this the consensus Leafs Nation top 20 list, but here’s my hastily formed top twenty prospects in the system today, and it should help with defining how needs to stay and go…
1. Rasmus Sandin
2. Timothy Liljegren
3. Jeremy Bracco
For all the reasons we’ve already covered so far, these players are relatively untouchable unless names like Dougie Hamilton are being tossed about, then we are very much in a pay to play situation, and the Leafs will need to ante up bring in a premier talent, and sorting the cap out will have to take place another day.
4. Joseph Woll
5. Ian Scott
Out of convenience I’m lumping the goaltenders together. One is up for a Hobey Baker, the other was the Canadian World Junior goaltender, and has led Prince Albert to their best season in a long time. Goaltenders may be voodoo, but with the Leafs less than exciting prospect pool, goaltender is a position that still looks to yield a high end player. It’s hard to forget the last time the Leafs made a choice between two goaltenders and then spent the next decade plus getting burned by Rask while Pogge went to play in the Italian Elite League, but in the event that a team wants to acquire a goaltending prospect, I can’t imagine the Leafs wouldn’t deal one.
6. Calle Rosen
7. Trevor Moore
Both of these players are likely to be full-time NHLers next season, and both have the cap hit the Leafs need them to have. Moving them damages the Leafs next season, and hurts the team’s depth for the playoffs as well. Like every player on this list, there is a point when they are included in a deal, and perhaps at this tier we’re already at the point where we could see them being dealt for a rental, but Rosen and Moore are really the last names on this list you worry about adding to a deal.
8. Mason Marchment
Another potentially NHL ready player, as long as you’re exclusively looking at the bottom six forward group. He’s much more likely to be a callup next season rather than a Leafs regular, and doesn’t look to have the ceiling of the other players on this list. We are now fully in the trade him zone.
9. Dmytro Timashov
10. Yegor Korshkov
Timashov seems to be everyone’s favourite throw-in player at this point. He’s got some talent, but it seems that it will be limited to the 2nd line of an AHL team. As for Korshkov. He was always an underwhelming draft pick, and seems to be questionable to even come over to North America. For some in Leafs land, he’s an exciting mystery box who can be that big body on a scoring line, for others he’s the guy who got picked when DeBrincat was available.
Moreso than Timashov, Korshkov has a bit of a swing for the fences feel, and is probably a prospect that is an easier sell in an acquisition.
11. Mac Hollowell
12. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
Mac Hollowell has continued to do exciting things in junior this year, while SDA has struggled a bit more. SDA has time on his side while Hollowell doesn’t, but both are players I can imagine the Leafs having some reluctance to deal at this point because of the unknown potential that still exists there.
Of course on the other hand, unknown potential can be overvalued by other teams, and if they are willing to put a premium on that, I sure the Leafs wouldn’t hesitate.
13. Pierre Engvall
14. Jesper Lindgren
15. Adam Brooks
The trio of Engvall, Lindgren, and Brooks should all be readily available. None have been particularly amazing, but none of them have really looked like they haven’t been far off of what was expected of them either. Engvall could be an enticing net presence for an organization to develop, Lindgren could be an interesting blueline prospect once he comes over, and Adam Brooks is a center that has some offence to his game. All three of these players are the essence of a throw in player, and if their inclusion can result in the Leafs giving up a lower pick to get a deal done, that’s probably the best role they can play for the organization.
16. Filip Kral
17. Riley Stotts
18. Fedor Gordeev
19. Ryan McGregor
Consider this group to be quite similar to the Hollowell/SDA grouping above, just maybe a less fanfare-y version of it. McGregor is also a bit older, and will need a contract by June 1st. Same with Gordeev, who is still a puzzle, but a puzzle in a very large package which gives him appeal in and out of the organization.
Kral and Stotts have both kept pace with their previous accomplishments in the WHL, and might not the most exciting prospects around, but it might feel like it’s too soon to give up them. There is a definite “let’s see what we have in them” feel to this group, although, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Leafs dealt them because they are worthwhile assets that teams can still get excited about.
20. Pontus Holmberg
I promised a list of 20 and Holmberg helps us get there. I don’t think anyone is asking for Holmberg and I’m doubting the Leafs have strong feelings one way or the other about him yet either, but a project prospect in the spirit of Engvall and Lindgren seems like a perfectly fine endevour for the Leafs, but probably not something where we need to talk trade on him.
Summarizing who to shop
|Want to Keep||Might as well shop||Shrug ¯\_(ツ)_/¯|
Beyond those 20 there are obviously plenty of other names to go around, and it’s safe to say they reside exclusively in the Shop column, but it’s worth noting which of those names might have some appeal.
Eemeli Rasanen is still a very large defenseman who is just taking a little while to find his game.
Dakota Joshua is a senior at Ohio State, who is about to graduate and could be an AHL center option for some team that wants to see what he can do.
Andreas Borgman wasn’t eligible for our prospect list, but his age and ability should put him in the same class of players as Rosen and Moore.
With the Leafs system not being what it used to be (because everyone quickly made it onto the Leafs roster) we are no looking at an unstocked cupboard again, and no longer owning a 1st round pick in the draft certainly doesn’t point to it being restocked very soon. There is an argument that the Leafs need to keep this pipeline going so they can continue to stock their lineup with cheap but talented players, but there is an equally valid argument that the Leafs need to acquire players that give them their best chance to win while in this competitive window.
What do any of these players get you?
On their own, not much with the exception of the guys you probably shouldn’t be rushing to trade like Liljegren, Sandin, and Bracco. Liljegren and Sandin both carrying a high value and would easily have a value beyond that of the late first round pick the Leafs dealt for Muzzin. Bracco, is a bit more of a wildcard in that sense, and arguably if a team isn’t valuing him as a 1st round pick value, he’s probably someone the Leafs should keep.
Guys like Rosen, Borgman and Moore might have additional value as players who can play in the NHL now and can help the Leafs complete one of these larger pipe dream deals that we’d want to see happen.
As for the rest, well, you’re just really hoping that other organizations are particularly excited about “that” guy otherwise they will primarily serve as players that can be dealt for lower end rentals, or as cogs in a deal that might allow the Leafs to retain some of their mid/late round picks.
Should the Leafs use the deadline to restock their cupboards?
As someone sitting on the outside of the Leafs looking in, it’s easy to say get what you can for Ron Hainsey, explore the Gardiner market, but realistically that doesn’t seem like a thing that will happen. Internal rentals/Depth/Further additions favor the “win now” mentality the organization is rightfully following, and building for the future while being at their most competitive now is probably too much to ask for.
This has gone on long enough, so you all deserve a TL;DR summary, and it’s that the Leafs have a need for cap friendly contracts to supplement their core and dealing those pieces away for rentals seems short sighted, but possibly necessary and in many cases preferential to trading draft picks.