The Leafs are coming off one of their most embarrassing losses in the almost 30 years I’ve been following this team, and that’s a less than ideal way to head into the trade deadline. The Leafs have 19 games left on the schedule, and barely clinging to a playoff spot, with the Panthers having a game at hand. Not ideal.
The Leafs are bubble defined. They aren’t really in a position where being aggressive buyers makes sense, but selling off while in a playoff spot isn’t going to be particularly well received. Striking the balance will be a challenge for Kyle Dubas and company, but it’s not one he has the luxury of screwing up. If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the Leafs aren’t a team that should be standing pat, and there’s something broken with the team.
What’s been done so far?
|Jack Campbell||Trevor Moore|
|Kyle Clifford||Mason Marchment|
|Denis Malgin||Aaron Luchuk|
|Max Veronneau||Ben Harpur|
|Miikko Salomaki||3rd Rd (2020)|
|3rd Rd (2021*|
Yeah, so other than Campbell that’s a whole lot of nothing. Giving up to 3rd round (or better) draft picks isn’t particularly ideal when the team is struggling isn’t looking great, though there is no doubt that Jack Campbell has improved the Leafs. It doesn’t leave the Leafs with much in the way for draft picks to move in future deals, and at some point you need to draw the line and at least consider the future.
Who are they still looking at?
Well, it’s been a bit all over the board on who the Leafs are looking at. We’ve heard Namestnikov in Ottawa as a potential target, but that might have been undone by the Malgin addition.
The one concrete name we’ve heard in connection to Tyson Barrie is T.J. Brodie in Calgary, though if the Leafs aren’t seeing themselves as playoff contenders, going for a pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t make a ton of sense.
Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, and Jujhar Khaira are all names out of Edmonton that have had traction at some point, and it seems like any potential deal will be connected to Edmonton’s desire to add a skilled forward.
Josh Manson, PK Subban, Damon Severson, and Mathew Dumba are some of the right handed defensemen with term that the Leafs are rumoured to be pursuing, and Dumba might be the most realistic option, based on availability, although there has been some question about whether or not the Leafs and Wild fit as trading partners. If Jonas Brodin is to be made available, that might be the more appealing option for the Leafs, although he’s a left shot.
The Leafs are also reportedly interested in Troy Stecher, and I wonder if this is an attempt to connect him back to his former University of North Dakota coach, Dave Hakstol.
Finally there are those Joe Thornton rumours, but given that he wants to go to a contender the Leafs might have played their way out of consideration.
Who are the Leafs selling?
Well, it seems like any time a right shooting defenseman is mentioned, the names Kasperi Kapanen or Alexander Kerfoot are attached. Perhaps a lottery team might still consider Andreas Johnsson as an option, knowing he won’t be ready until next training camp, but odds are he’s a Leaf next year now. Right now the interest seems to be coming from Edmonton, but the Leafs are exploring Anaheim, New Jersey, and Minnesota for their own needs.
Tyson Barrie has had his name thrown around a lot lately, as the Leafs top unrestricted free agents tend to get rumoured to have high potential returns, until they ultimately end up staying with the Leafs, but once again I’ll allow myself to believe this time is different. Carolina, Vegas, Calgary, and Vancouver are the rumoured landing spots that we’ve heard of so far.
Beyond those names that have been hammered away at it’ been pretty quiet. Dmytro Timashov and Jeremy Bracco have made trade requests to the Leafs, and perhaps we’ll see a couple more small deals occur. Nic Petan has recently expressed his desire to get another shot at the NHL, so he could be relocated as well.
Now that Ceci is rumoured to be returning before the end of the season, the Leafs might try to dump his salary as well.
Who is untouchable?
It’s debatable if the Leafs still have any players who fit that description after Saturday night. In reality it’s probably the big four of Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, and Marner, along with their top prospects of Sandin, Liljegren, and Robertson that are completely off limits, and everyone else would just require some arm twisting. Heck, let’s put Zach Hyman in that group as well, because no one else will ever give you want Hyman gives you, especially for that price.
The waiting game
The Leafs don’t have a practice Sunday, so we’re in a holding pattern newswise until waivers at Noon ET. We might see some shuffles (i.e. Timashov, Marincin, or Gauthier demotions), and if that’s quiet, well, we’re in the dark until Monday when play the “look who is absent from practice” game.