Quiet Deadline Day A Wise Choice For The Leafs

Yesterday was a quiet one in Leafland.

Amidst some early reports that swirled around suggesting the Leafs might be looking to make a huge splash, the trade deadline came and went without much for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

While some online mourned prematurely for players from Connor Brown to Jake Gardiner – and not without reason, based on a few whispers here and there, much of the talk was all for not. Unless you’re a Par Lindholm fan, that is. The Leafs did move the Swedish forward to the Winnipeg Jets in a minor trade for centre Nic Petan, who joined the club for the first time earlier today.

After back-to-back seasons acquiring bigger names in Brian Boyle and Tomas Plekanec, a more understated deadline day from Dubas came as a surprise to many, and a disappointment to some.

Those people, however, may be quick to judge, and quick to criticize. Yesterday’s trade deadline was more of a statement than they may realize, as the negative space of the Leafs’ inactivity actually speaks volumes in several regards.

Addition Through Subtraction

Let’s be frank for a moment, and admit that Par Lindholm’s tenure in Toronto will likely fade from the memories of many sooner rather than later. With one lowly goal and 11 assists through 61 NHL games, Lindholm wasn’t exactly a difference-maker in the Leafs lineup. Was he a liability? Hardly. He was just invisible – a little too invisible.

And while Nic Petan comes to Toronto with just 5 career goals through 108 NHL seasons, he also arrives with a degree of potential never advertized with Lindholm:

When you’re measuring degrees of invisibility, the book is still out on Petan as an NHL player. But the potential is there – and we’ll take that “maybe”.

Addition Through Not Subtracting

Apr 19, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (51) carries the puck against the Washington Capitals in game four of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Washington defeated Toronto 5-4. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The thought here is simple: the Leafs are going for it this season, and they absolutely should. And while rumours, as mentioned, began swirling about Jake Gardiner’s impending departure from the Leafs, that departure should now arrive no earlier than July 1st:

What does this mean? Several things. It means that Jake Gardiner’s days in Toronto are likely numbered, and that’s too bad. But the Salary Cap – love it or hate it – is what it is.

It also means that Jake Gardiner will remain a Toronto Maple Leaf through what is hopefully a lengthy playoff run.

With Morgan Rielly, Travis Dermott, Jake Muzzin and Jake Gardiner on the back end, the Leafs elected to stay locked and loaded heading into the playoffs, and that’s what contenders do. They cut their losses, and build teams that they believe can make a run for it at all costs. Luckily for the Leafs, “all costs” did not involve losing a single significant roster player, through the Muzzin trade or otherwise, and the rest – such as impending-UFA Jake Gardiner – is house money.

Addition Through Not Trading A Second-Round Pick

Without a 1st-round selection in this draft after the Jake Muzzin trade, the Leafs decided not to sacrifice more futures for this run, unlike the past two years. And that’s okay, too.

The novelty of the Jake Muzzin trade has faded, now a month later, and Leafs Nation was antsy as the trade deadline came and went yesterday afternoon. But the Leafs made their splash; they loaded up, and they’ve got their sights set firmly forward with the squad at hand.

What comes next is up to this group – with certainty, now. We’ll see what they can make of it.

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  • al m

    And while Nic Petan comes to Toronto with just 5 career goals through 108 NHL seasons,…

    Apparently he’s been around quite awhile?

    In case people haven’t noticed, the Leafs are letting FAs walk every year, without getting anything in return.
    Add to this the Leafs have also given up prospects in these year end deals, and we see a development system being emptied quickly of potential NHL’s.
    Further look at the draft pics they give up, and we see them starting to whittle down, as well.

    I get it, lots of players developed and were brought up, and that’s great. Yet, in a cap league, there always needs to be a pipeline of various positions ready to be brought up…top and bottom six, as well as D.

    Anyway, we also can’t ignore over payments coming from Leaf’s management, nor can we ignore Dubas guarantee to Nylander that he has no intention of trading him while he’s GM.

    I’m Leaf’s fan, and I remember all the years of suffering, yet it’s highly doubtful the Leafs are nearly good enough to win 16 games come playoffs when all is said and done.

    • tbone

      Lindholm had already lost his job to Gauthier for the rest of this year so Dubas traded him for a cheap reclamation project a.k.a. Ennis. It’s now up to Petan to see if the Leafs have something they can eventually use on the team or sell.

      In today’s cap era, the practice of not letting UFA’s walk for nothing only applies to teams which are out of the playoffs.
      Teams in the playoffs must now consider the cost of selling vs buying UFA’s at the trade deadline. If you sell someone off, what is the cost of replacement?

      Overpayments and poor drafting are the legacy Dubas has been left with and he’s dealing with those problems fairly well.

      Willie has to understand…..if it’s not in the contract, then it’s not guaranteed…..this is a business!

      The only “suffering” Leafs fans should be doing now is wondering how deep our team will go in the playoffs this year, next year, etc.