When the Leafs acquired Jared McCann for a low price, fans were ecstatic that the team got an analytical darling for basically nothing which they felt was too good to be true. Well, that proved to be the case as he was left exposed in the expansion draft and taken by the Kraken, leaving many confused and angered over why they gave up on him so quickly.
The days that followed saw many debate over what the purpose of the move was and whether or not they made the correct decision in the end. Now with a new season fast approaching, we got our answer in a short clip from the team’s latest offering of “The Leaf: Blueprint.”
It appears that the Leafs did indeed trade for Jared McCann so that they could lose him in the expansion draft and keep Alexander Kerfoot 👀 pic.twitter.com/aEN3jLVPVY
— Michael (@TheLeafsIMO) September 25, 2021
In the nearly 30 second clip, Kyle Dubas brings up to the management team that they have a trade offer from the Penguins to acquire McCann in exchange for Fillip Hallander and a seventh-round pick. Brendan Shanahan then suggests the team goes through with it so that they can lose him in the expansion draft and keep Alexander Kerfoot on the roster.
If we’re taking this clip at face value, then it is obvious that the Leafs were willing to expose McCann from the get-go and that his acquisition was to bait the Kraken into taking him. This resulted in the team not really losing anything valuable from the perspective of the trade and they could retain their roster heading into free agent frenzy, which included the prime candidates in Kerfoot and Justin Holl.
Say what you will about Holl’s play in the second half of the 2021 season, but he has proven to be an important addition to their blueline and developed strong chemistry alongside Jake Muzzin to form the team’s shutdown pair. Add to that the ludicrous prices that defenceman went for on the open market this past summer and the Leafs made the right decision to hold onto Holl instead of leaving him exposed. As for Kerfoot, he is coming off his best showing yet in the playoffs when he stepped up his production in the wake of John Tavares’ serious injury. He and William Nylander were a big part in why the Leafs were able to go up 3-1 in their series against the Canadiens and remained productive even when things fell apart as a whole. Kerfoot’s flexibility to play both the middle and the wings ensures that he will likely remain in the Blue and White for the foreseeable future, and he enters the season with a clean slate. It obviously would have been nice to keep McCann on the roster for the season, but it would have likely resulted in the Leafs losing a key member of their team for nothing.
Whether or not the decision to leave McCann exposed was the right one is an answer we will never truly know until years down the line. But for the time being, we at least know that the Leafs didn’t just blindly acquire him without considering the looming expansion draft.