Last year the signing of Zach Bogosian was met with a lot of skepticism. He wasn’t expensive, he was coming off a Stanley Cup championship, but he’s a stay at home defenseman, and that generally doesn’t go over well, especially when he would be blocking the path of prospects like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, not to mention making it harder for Mikko Lehtonen to be an every day player in the NHL.
Well here we are a year later, and while I’m pretty sure Bogosian wasn’t anyone’s favourite Leaf, his hardnosed style of play and serviceable defending on the third pairing certainly earned him plenty of appreciators, and while fans still want Sandin and Liljegren, the safety net of having Bogosian still has a lot of appeal.
That’s why news like this isn’t ideal (from Terry Koshan):
The Leafs and Bogosian have talked about a new deal, but a source indicated the New York native is interested in “taking a peek” at offers in free agency.
“I would expect him to hit the open market,” the source said. “The expectations are that he will.”
The news comes following Bogosian’s concerns about how accessible visiting Canada will be for his American family in the near future. With uncertainty about what happens next with COVID and borders it’s entirely possible that we see more and more players making decisions that fit their personal lives better.
Similarly another American born player might be returning state side, and while many people expected Nick Foligno to return to Columbus and resume his captaincy of that team, there are now rumours circulating that he will join his brother Marcus in Minnesota.
The expansion draft
The next 48 hours or so will be wild. There’s a good chance that Vladimir Tarasenko, Mark Giordano, and Carey Price are not only going to move on from their current teams, but could also be entering the trade market. Other teams like Carolina, Tampa, Nashville, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and the New York Islanders are also in a situation where they could lose a key player off their rosters in this expansion draft.
Of course we’re a Leafs blog, and we’ll focus on what that means from a Leafs perspective.
Joseph Zita took a look at the big three options for the Leafs to lose in the expansion draft earlier today:
While it seems like a two horse race between Alexander Kerfoot and Jared McCann with Travis Dermott in a distant third spot, there is still the complete unknown aspect of how Seattle is wanting to piece their team together, and it’s entirely possible that cost effective options like Pierre Engvall, Adam Brooks, and Joey Anderson could also factor into the conversation.
As for the lack of a side deals, and the timing of the Leafs acquiring McCann, Jonas Siegel of The Athletic says it comes down to insurance, and wanting to have insurance of having either McCann or Kerfoot as options on Thursday morning. The fact that Seattle was interested in both players and can now only select one puts them in an interesting situation, and one that the Leafs might be able to leverage in the days following the draft, and we’ll look at how specifically in a minute.
Although on paper the edge to who the Kraken will select leans towards taking McCann, there are a couple of intangible reasons that Kerfoot might get the edge for the Kraken. The first one is familiarity, and the fact that Hakstol has been working with Kerfoot for the past couple of seasons could give him the edge. It seems like whomever the Kraken select from Toronto and Philadelphia will be players that the Kraken actually want to keep and play and that favours Kerfoot. The other piece is that McCann, while a winger/center like Kerfoot, was utilized more as a winger last season than Kerfoot was. Both players might be better off on the wing going forward, but given the lack of centers of note available in the expansion draft, Kerfoot might be the preferred option here.
The ol’ draft and trade
A look back to Vegas' expansion draft. They made a whopping 10 trades on expansion draft day, then 4 more involving players they selected in the following days.
Fascinated to see how Seattle's draft compares pic.twitter.com/7ZP4nXAsPL
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) July 18, 2021
As you can see from Kyle’s Vegas draft depth chart, the draft was far from conventional, and if we’re expecting straight forward selections of the best players available and teams not paying ransoms in some circumstances, we are deluding ourselves. What is also incredibly interesting are the players we see in green, and those are the players that were immediately traded following being selected by Vegas. We will definitely see this as well, and that’s what we’d hope to see the Leafs pursue.
With the Kraken potentially being interested in adding other Leafs players (assuming Hakstol has a high opinion of the players he worked with in Toronto) there are a number of players that could make sense for the Leafs to inquire about Seattle selecting in order so they can trade for them post draft. Here’s a brief sample of those players:
Ben Bishop has the potential to be a suitable tandem partner for Jack Campbell in net, and he waived his NMC to be selected by Seattle. Of course there’s no guarantee that he’d waive it again to come to Toronto, but he is one of the worthwhile goaltenders available to Seattle, that might be available. The other player to watch for is Kaapo Kahkonen from Minnesota, who is priced right at $725k and was good during stretches of last season while splitting the net with Cam Talbot.
As the Leafs continue to look for ways to add some beef to their lineup, players like Christian Fischer, Garnet Hathaway and Nick Ritchie are also both available and could be flip targets for Toronto as well. I’m sure Seattle will be looking for some affordable toughness that can play as well, but if they find themselves with an excess of options perhaps the Leafs could benefit from the overflow.
And of course we should consider the idea of Seattle helping Toronto add a big fish, because why not dream big? A player like Nino Niederreiter would do wonders for helping Toronto fans get over the loss of Zach Hyman, and if some salary was retained a player like Ryan Johansen has a ton of appeal too. I’d argue that Jason Zucker could be another one of those interesting names, if salary retention is part of the equation, and Seattle can potentially engage in some of that in their early days as well, but we know salary retention doesn’t come cheap.
Right now the expansion draft has a ton of promise and excitement attached to it, and while it will be interesting, getting hopes too high from a Leafs perspective might be ill advised. The fact that the Leafs have a relationship with Dave Hakstol, and at one time Kyle Dubas was rumoured to be recruiting Ron Francis for the Leafs front office likely speaks to a working relationship between the two teams, but we might not reap the benefits of those relationships on day one.