Chris Tanev’s trade cost could be too steep for the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
18 days ago
This trade deadline season seems like it has the Maple Leafs and Chris Tanev on a collision course to bringing the local boy home and fixing some significant issues the Maple Leafs have in their top four defence. Would it be great if there was an exciting creative option out there? Sure. Would someone with term be better? Absolutely. Is it likely that Tanev will be the most impactful defenceman available? Yeah, that’s true too.
Pierre LeBrun has reported the asking price for Tanev is a second round pick and another asset. That’s already a high price for a couple months of a defenceman, but at least he’s a good defenceman.
The challenge for the Leafs is that they don’t have a 2nd round pick and that changes their situation on the ask and there is some good and some bad to it.
Worst case scenario is the Leafs are simply in a situation where they are outbidding everyone and paying a first for Chris Tanev. In previous years the Leafs have at least had a second round pick to fall back on in the draft, but if they deal their first it will be a very quiet first couple of rounds for a team that can’t ignore their future any further while still prioritizing the present.
The Leafs would have an option to re-sign Chris Tanev and while that is not a bad idea, there are injury concerns, he’s 34 years old, and expecting a hometown discount is nothing more than a wishful exercise at this point. Re-signing Tanev might not be an incentive to pay more it might be venturing into sunk cost fallacy where they over commit to veteran player because of the price paid to acquire him.
Tanev won’t necessarily age like Reaves and it took Giordano until he turned 40 before he truly hit a wall, but there are some significant similarities to the Jake Muzzin situation. Muzzin was great after he was acquired, gave the Leafs a great follow up season, but showed his age the following year before injuries ended his career shortly after. Considering term as an option to make Tanev’s deal more palatable seems like it could bite the Leafs.
The other piece to consider is that if the Leafs are paying over the asking price on Tanev by offering a first, they can start asking for something in return as well and I wouldn’t doubt that Brad Treliving is already well into those conversations. If Calgary is getting a first, asking for salary retention seems like a given, but additionally or instead of that, is this situation one where the Leafs can explore moving a contract like Kampf’s or Reaves back to the Flames to create some longer term relief for Toronto.
The other idea that has been thrown out there is that the Leafs could substitute the first round ask with Fraser Minten and that certainly is a bad idea and given how excited the organization is around him, it seems unlikely to happen. Ditto for Easton Cowan. I’m not sure that a Marlies grab bag headlined by Topi Niemela gets it done, but arguably it probably should. It’s just draft picks are a lot easier to work with and make for great currency if the Flames want to turn things around fast via trades this summer.
There is also the small matter of rumoured love loss between Brad Treliving and the Flames front office that has been alluded to previously. If these parties aren’t looking to do each other any favours the best course of action might be to look elsewhere.

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