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Photo Credit: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Is a Mikael Granlund trade imminent for the Leafs?

We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink talking rumours over the past month, and with three weeks to go, it’s unlikely that we’ll be letting up at all. It’s in that spirit we are circling back around to one of the most frequently talked about rumoured players, Mikael Granlund.

If you feel like reading (or re-reading) almost 2000 words on Granlund, what he is and isn’t and how he’d fit in with the Leafs, we’ve got you covered here:

Where there’s smoke there’s probably Granlund

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We aren’t going to explore the nuances of Granlund’s game again today, but rather try to answer a few of the questions that are popping up. Why are we talking about him again? When will Nashville trade him? What will he cost? Is he a good idea for the Leafs?

Why are we talking about Granlund again?

We have last night’s Insider Trading segment on TSN and Frank Seravalli to thank for that one:

After scouring the league, I believe the Leafs’ primary target at this point is Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund.

Okay, that will do it. That’s pretty direct for an insider comment and we probably do need to focus back on Granlund and the realities of him.

When will Nashville trade him?

Again we have thoughts from Seravalli on that:

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Now, there have been a number of complicating factors that have popped up including, number one, the fact that the Leafs are waiting for some clarity from the NHL as to whether this 14-day quarantine will be reduced to seven days.

My guess is that it’s better to assume this won’t be happening.

…there seems to be some slight hesitation on the part of the Nashville Predators as the Chicago Blackhawks have come back to earth here as to whether they’re still in the race or not. So not sure if it’s fair to say that the Preds are pulling their players off of the market, it just seems like at this point they’re more wait and see mode rather than sell mode.

So that’s not ideal from a Leafs perspective. If the Preds are making a playoff push, it’s likely that Granlund would be a big part of that, and while my opinion is that is a short sighted approach, my opinion doesn’t mean anything and the Preds will shoot themselves in the foot and take a smaller return at the deadline when they are still sitting outside of the playoffs.

What’s also important around the Granlund trade is that by Friday, March 26th, James Mirtle has done the cap calculations and that would be the day the Leafs would be able to add Granlund to their lineup without trading a roster player. This is pretty significant as it allows much more of a true upgrade for the Leafs rather than relying on someone coming into the roster and outplaying the previous incumbent. Of course that doesn’t mean the Leafs have to do something that date, and with each additional day the Leafs would have greater cap flexibility, but doubling back around to the 14 day quarantine, there is absolutely a sense of urgency to getting trades completed soon, and in that spirit, I’ll leave you the last part of Seravalli’s Insider Trading quote:

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And I can tell you this. The Toronto Maple Leafs, if things don’t get going soon, are going to have to consider Plan B, C or D on the list.

A trade made on Friday would result in the acquired player missing seven games for the Leafs, and would only get one game in before the actual trade deadline. As good as Granlund is, hopefully there are other talks going on that are concluded soon.

What will Granlund cost?

This is the most terrifying aspect of the Granlund trade for me, as Granlund is a rental. That seems to be what Dubas wants, but I remain skeptical of that being a good idea when top prospects are having their names thrown around in the rumour mill. Parting with the 2021 1st round pick for Granlund is something I can easily make peace with. Not so much with Sandin, Amirov, or Robertson, although despite what looks like tremendous upside, the injury history of Liljegren might make him the risk I’d be willing to take if I were in Dubas’ shoes.

Though none of that seems rational. The precedent for trading Granlund was trading the 27 year Granlund for a 22 year old Kevin Fiala. Given that the Leafs aren’t looking to go with anyone off their roster and Granlund is older and rental, it seems like it should be safe to assume the return would be less than that. It seems like either the 1st round pick, or potentially a second round pick, plus usable depth or secondary prospect would be reasonable.

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The other difference is the fact that the Leafs would be asking Nashville to retain salary, and there is little doubt that they are attempting to put a premium on that. While Kyle Dubas has a generally appealing trade history, there aren’t any fleecings to speak of, and there is a good chance that Granlund won’t be as cheap as we’d like.

Is Granlund a good idea for the Leafs?

Let’s get the cop out answer out of the way early, and say “it depends.”

If the Leafs aren’t parting with any of the four top prospects, I’m very much on board with Granlund. If the Leafs are able to act soon, I’m very much on board with Granlund. If the Leafs add Granlund without subtracting from their line up I’m very much on board with Granlund. All that being said, that is asking everything to go perfectly as planned, and that is seldom the case.

I’m very concerned about the rental aspect of Granlund, and while I hope the Leafs would see Granlund as a player worth trying to re-sign this summer, that’s not a guarantee. There’s a very good chance that the cost of Granlund could be someone like Liljegren, and presumably we’re already seeing Kyle Dubas wait longer than he would have liked to make a trade. Waiting beyond this Friday isn’t good for the Leafs, as it means Granlund wouldn’t be in a Leafs uniform before the trade deadline.

The biggest issue I think most people have, and to some extent myself, is that Granlund isn’t a particularly flashy acquisition. Getting excited about Forsberg, Hall, or Ekholm is easy, but this much more a right fit, and than a big splash, and a big splash seemed like it could be fun. Perhaps there’s a less to be learned and that is to trust that players are being targeted for the right reasons, and the Leafs will be far better off with player like Granlund who doesn’t require mountains to be moved to bring him in and fits with what the Leafs try to do. I guess I can talk myself into this being a good idea.

What do you think? Do you want Granlund on the Leafs? What would you give up for him? Let us know in the comments below.