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The Maple Leafs as Sellers and Who Should Be Interested

Continuing on the grand tradition of beating trade deadline coverage into the ground, we’re going to flip things around and look at the Toronto Maple Leafs as a team that should be sellers, instead of a team that should be buyers.

I know, right?

Anyway, this is a semi-boring stance that teams should be both buyers and sellers at every deadline to some extent, and even with Money Puck giving the Leafs the encouraging odds of a 7.8% chance of winning the cup, that still leaves a 92.8% they won’t and also a 49% chance they don’t make it out of the first round.

It’s worth noting that these odds are all incredibly good, and based on the roster that has gotten them this far. If they can add to it, great, but also if they can make some smart decisions on some players on their roster at the deadline that don’t really hurt them, well, that’s just good GMing.

Below is a list of a few players worth considering as players the Leafs could sell on.

Nikita Zaitsev

Trading away Nikita Zaitsev something that was explored last week in this post. And while trading Zaitsev before the start of next season should be a priority for the organization, whether it is something that should happen by the deadline is much more open to debate.

Individuals such as myself aren’t particularly big fans of his, under any usage and would happily ship him out as soon as possible believing that out of Ozhiganov, Marincin, Holl, and Rosen he’s been adequately replaced internally.

Others see Zaitsev as a perfectly serviceable defenseman, who just has a terrible contract that the team needs to rid itself from. There are even those who take no issue with the contract or the player, but the majority of those people still likely fall into the move Zaitsev camp over the idea of moving Kapanen, Johnsson, Kadri, or Marner (*ducks*) over the summer.

The thing with the Zaitsev contract is that is going to be a challenge to move, and if it can be done at the deadline, you have to try. Few contracts have the potential to do the long term damage this one does, so even if it means downgrading at the position, slightly, you have to consider it.

Who’d be interested: Stars, and Islanders

Possible return: Dang, who the hell knows. Best case a late pick, worst case Martin Hanzal

Is he staying or going: Probably staying for now

Should They Sell Score: 69/69

Jake Gardiner

Here’s another trade summary you can read in exhaustive detail. The short version of this is that Jake Gardiner is too valuable to lose for nothing, and if the assets are acquired soon enough they could be flipped for additional help before the deadline turns into a pumpkin.

Losing Gardiner creates a pretty big hole on the Leafs blueline and without an immediate replacement plan, the Leafs could struggle down the stretch and in the playoffs.

It’s also worth noting that while there will be a lot of defensemen listed on here, there is no way they are all being sent out.

Who’d be interested: Jets, Stars, Wild, Golden Knights

Possible return: Let’s say a 1st and probably one of those prospects that seems decent when you look at their numbers, but slowly realize over time they are never going to make the NHL

Is he staying or going: As much as I want to shout “ASSET MANAGEMENT” from the top of a mountain, this team is focused on the playoffs and Jake is going to be a part of that. We’ll also have to put up with a ton of “doing everything we can to sign him” comments until he ultimately signs somewhere else on July 1st.

Should They Sell Score: 420/690

Ron Hainsey

Now that Hainsey’s off the top pairing with Rielly it seems that there has been a significant decline in the number of complaints about him. That being said, like with Zaitsev, there are at least four defensemen that we can point to as suitable bottom pairing replacements for him. Perhaps his cup experience warrants keeping him around despite this being his Leafs swan song.

As for interest, well, minute eating defensemen who have some penalty killing on their resume is marketable.

Who’d be interested: *tells myself to stop writing “Stars”* Uhhh…. Penguins, Flames, and yeah probably the Stars

Possible return: Honestly if the Leafs are going to take a depth hit it would need to be a bit overpayment and they’d have to land a 2nd for him.

Is he staying or going: Let’s cast another unenthusiastic vote for probably staying. Though one of Zaitsev, Gardiner, or Hainsey should go at the deadline just out of roster management.

Should they Sell Score: 4.20/6.9

The Rest of the D depth core:

Ozhiganov is an arbitration eligible restricted free agent that is unlikely to return

Holl hasn’t played in 2019, but I think Dubas will wait out Babcock until next season before granting Holl his freedom

Marincin is already on the Marlies, but that doesn’t matter because if anyone wanted him they would have taken him for free

Who’d be interested: All of these players seem like guys John Chayka would acquire just because it’s a slow afternoon

Possible return: The February equivalent of Michael Carcone

Are they staying or going: Now that Marincin is on the Marlies, he provides important depth value that the Leafs won’t want to give up. Holl is a Dubas project we’re going to have to wait out, and Ozhiganov is the true 7th D. I can’t imagine he leaves unless the Leafs are also doing some adding to their defense group this month.

Connor Brown

We are now entering year two of kicking ourselves that the Leafs didn’t sell high on Connor Brown. The thing is, while an expensive 4th liner is something the Leafs won’t have much time for over the summer, they can afford him now and he’ll be an asset in the playoffs. The thing is that Connor Brown fits the age range and the upside associated with the roster player part of package trades, and he also seems like the “good culture” player that bad teams crave. Connor Brown certainly isn’t a lock to be a Leaf, but I can’t imagine him being sold as much as being part of a hockey trade.

Who’d be interested: Panthers, Oilers, Ducks (are the cliched answers) but also Predators, Jets, and Blues

Possible return: On his own, Brown probably gets you 2nd round pick, but he’s likely to be packaged to a retooling team. Brown as part of a package that brings back a defenseman is ideal.

Is he staying or going: With Trevor Moore ready to play the role that Brown has been playing and with Tyler Ennis back I’m going to say that Brown trades will be explored, but if he’s going for just a pick, that will be after the season, not at the deadline.

Should They Sell Score: Look, I’m as worn out by the 420s and 69s as you are. Let’s say 8/10

Tyler Ennis

Tyler Ennis was having a solid season 4th line depth scoring before his injury. It remains to be seen if the fact that the Leafs kept on just fine without him made him expendable, but it seems like it might be more trouble than it’s worth to put together a trade for a depth forward at the deadline. There are plenty of teams pushing the cap that would like to sneak a few extra goals into their lineup, but there are likely more than enough rental players to go around before the Leafs need to get involved.

Who’d be interested: Penguins, Predators, Sharks

Possible return: At best we’re probably talking a 4th round pick

Is he staying or going: I’d count on him staying.

Should They Sell Score: 4/10

Par Lindholm

You wish.

Andreas Johnsson

Well, he’s #38 on the TSN trade bait board, so I’m forcing this one. I don’t want to see Johnsson traded and I’m sure you don’t either. He’s been really good in his limited use and we can only hope that we get to see more of him.

That being said, he’s on the fourth line, young, and putting up numbers and that’s going to generate some interest. There is also the issue of how he will fit in with the other pieces that need to be put together in order to make a cap compliant roster next season.

There’s obviously no rush on a decision involving Johnsson and the others who’s contracts might be difficult to accommodate next year, but there also isn’t any doubt that there is interest in both Johnsson and Kapanen around the league at the moment. With Johnsson on pace for breaking 20 goals this season, we should give up the dream that he’s magically going to come in on a contract under $2,000,000 a season.

Who’d be interested: Hurricanes, Oilers, Rangers

Possible return: A player we want more, but with one side throwing stuff in, probably. He’s a hockey trade player or dealt in the summer

Is he staying or going: I’m strongly leaning towards staying, but this will probably depend on how close Carolina is to playing out their end game on defense.

Should They Sell Score: 6/10

For arguments sake let’s assume the things that were just said about Johnsson were also said about Kasperi Kapanen, but with greater emphasis on him not being traded

Garret Sparks

So, you may have noticed that Sparks hasn’t been too good. A big part of that is due to the expectations being inflated by the misconception that AHL success was a clear indicator for NHL success, when with goaltenders making the jump save percentage really only seems to indicate they’ve earned a chance to try.

While flogging Sparks for his performance would be fun, especially after a rough night against the Rangers, we should dial it back to the fact his numbers are inline with his peers and there is no shortage of teams in need of finding a cheap alternative in net.

At the end of the day, the playoffs are over no matter what if Andersen isn’t healthy, and Hutchinson is a perfectly reasonable backup option.

Who’d be interested: Hurricanes, Oilers, Panthers

Possible return: On his own, you aren’t getting anything that would make it worth it, but let’s say a 5th round pick.

Is he staying or going: He’s likely staying, because most of these guys are likely staying and it’s an easy guess.

Should They Sell Score: 8/10, arbitration eligibility isn’t fun and Sparks is eligible this summer.

Let’s call it a wrap there folk’s. The moral of the story is that the Leafs probably aren’t too concerned about selling and we’re best making peace with Hainsey and Gardiner as internal rentals and preparing for some roster craftiness over the summer instead. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since focusing on #good #hockey is never #bad.

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  • al m

    First, too bad about limited commenting. Having no notifs is a downfall.

    Nikita Zaitsev: Must give up to move him.

    Jake Gardiner: They really need to move him this deadline.

    Ron Hainsey: He’s part of the playoff roster.

    Connor Brown: I’d wager other teams undervalue him. Maybe part of a package at the dealine.

    Tyler Ennis: Be nice to see him at his best this playoffs. Moves up the lineup if needed.

    Par Lindholm: Not doing well, but Gauthier is worse. Spare parts and adds to the PK.

    Andreas Johnsson: and Kappy. Keep them both and trade Nylander this summer for a top 4 RD

    Garret Sparks: Give the guy a chance. He simply needs to acclimatize I hope.

  • Brandon

    Don’t trade Kappy. he’s a PK wizard who is still getting better. Trade Brown if you can get something back. If you can combo. Gardiner and Brown for Faulk, I like that deal. They get a bit of term on Brown and more scoring potential, we get 1 extra year on a RD who isn’t as good as Gardiner, but is still a decent puck mover and balances the back end. Leafs might have to throw a pick in to get it done? Moore replaces Brown on the PK. I love Jake, but if we can add balance and bump Zaitsev down the depth chain, this could be a net win