Dubas watches games, Leafs want to keep Timmins, and Sam Lafferty sweepstakes

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
We’re at the five week until the trade deadline. And as with other seasons it feels like we’re counting down to something that can’t possibly live up to the expectations. It’s fun to daydream about Timo Meier and Jakob Chychrun somehow coming in as Leafs in the next couple of weeks, but maybe it’s time to prepare ourselves for the reality of Jaycob Megna, Sam Lafferty, and maybe a veteran who would have been an exciting addition half a decade ago. That doesn’t mean that’s a bad deadline and it’s on par with what NHL teams typically do,  so maybe it’s a good time to remind ourselves that Kyle Dubas isn’t a riverboat gambler.
Here’s what is out there regarding the Leafs…

Leafs want to bring back Conor Timmins next season

From Chris Johnston on TSN Insider Trading…
“[The Maple Leafs] do have some interest in extending Conor Timmins to a contract,” Johnston said Tuesday on Insider Trading. “He’s a pending restricted free agent, acquired in November from Arizona, been a nice fit since he came over to Toronto and been quite productive in his time. So, we’ll see if they can get something done there.”
Okay, well this seems pretty obvious. Conor Timmins has been good. Maybe not as good as his point total leads us to believe he is, but he is an ideal sheltered offensive option and is still young enough that he can develop into even more. I basically look at Conor Timmins and think “what if people understood that Tyson Barrie should be a third pairing guy?” That’s Conor Timmins, third pairing, properly utilized Tyson Barrie. He can move up the lineup. He might surprise you from time to time, but he’s a good sheltered offensive defenseman. Of course, the Leafs want to bring him back and as a non-arbitration eligible RFA, it seems highly likely we’ll see him in a Leafs uniform next season.
When it comes to the price the Leafs would have to spend on Timmins, I’d imagine they’ve largely capped that internally at the $1.4M the Leafs have spent on Sandin and Liljegren and arguably Timmins shouldn’t even cost them that. With the cap going up it’s possible Timmins gets the two years, $1.4M treatment and people should be comfortable with that. All of it is very similar to the 2 year, $1.5M AAV given to Travis Dermott, so the Leafs have a pretty firm ballpark that they like to stick to.
The Leafs reaching out now makes a lot of sense to see if something seems possible with Timmins because he’s certainly making his case as an asset, a young asset that might have value at the trade deadline if he’s not part of the Leafs future. As much as I’d love to see Timmins stay and grow with the Leafs, if he’s going to price himself out of Toronto a quick flip might also work. There is also some consideration that needs to be given to the Leafs roster at the trade deadline and how they make the salary cap and the 23 player roster work. Timmins should be a part of that, easily, but that’s also easy to say before the Leafs start adding to their lineup.

Kyle Dubas watching tanking teams with another tanking GM

Reporting that a GM of a team not playing attending a game is definitely something I’d expect to see reported, so this isn’t me jumping on Daniel for saying that Dubas was at the Canucks and Blackhawks game last night. It was also quickly noted that the CHL Top Prospects game is tonight in Langley and pretty much every NHL front office will have strong representation in the Vancouver area in the coming days.
We’ve also seen where Dubas was in Montreal a couple of days early before the Leafs played there and took in a Canadiens and Panthers game, and even before that, Kyle Dubas was in Philadelphia before the Leafs played there a few days earlier and watched a Flyers game. That coincided with the Leafs Pro/Amateur scouting meeting in Philadelphia.
The main theme is that Kyle Dubas will watch other teams play and whether you want to completely dismiss it as scouting teams before the Leafs face them or if you want to look at it as Kyle Dubas wanting to put in a bit of face time with some rival GMs, that makes sense too. What it doesn’t mean is that you need to pour over these rosters to try to determine who the Leafs are trading for. These are lottery bound teams, Kyle Dubas is going to be talking to them. There are going to be players he wants to see up close because even limited in person tells you more than what you see on video, but it doesn’t mean that anything is imminent. And the fact that Dubas has covered off a number of tanking teams in a short period of time likely means he’s casting a pretty wide net. There’s also some benefit in watching these teams when not playing the Leafs because it would be hard not to be distracted by the performance of the Leafs players when you are trying to scout.
So is it possible that Kyle Dubas is going to make a trade with the Blackhawks, the Canucks, the Blue Jackets, or even one of the other teams he was watched recently in non-Leafs games? Absolutely. It’s just not something where anyone can narrow things down from his actions. And that’s very much how Dubas likes it.

Meet Sam Lafferty

Earlier this week, The Athletic ran an article on Sam Lafferty and how he could be a fit for the Maple Leafs. It’s an interesting thing to have occur because his name is one that one of our TLN contributors was also hearing in connection to the Maple Leafs and had begun speculating on. I think there is a lot more that can be said on the topic of Sam Lafferty later, but he’s an interesting new name to throw into the mix from a Leafs perspective and a player that seems like a possible bottom six depth fit especially if the Leafs need to move on from Alex Kerfoot to clear some salary cap space.
The article by Scott Powers with Jonas Siegel highlights a few worthwhile skill sets that the Leafs would want to tap into. For one, Sam Lafferty is a strong skater, Max Domi notes that Lafferty is one of the strongest skaters on the Hawks. He’s a penalty killer, and one that you want taking faceoffs, especially on the right side. Given that Holmberg has struggled in the faceoff dot, bringing in some support for his line could be beneficial as well.
Lafferty hits more than any Leafs forward not named Zach Aston-Reese, and seven goals, 16 points in 40 games is worthwhile production for a bottom six player. Lafferty’s ATOI is 14:43, but what is interesting is the upward trend in his time on ice. Six of Lafferty’s last seven games have seen him playing more than 16 minutes a night and he looks to be one of the bright spots on a very bad Chicago team.
The $1.15M AAV is an easy dollar amount to fit into the Leafs lineup and it comes with the added bonus of Lafferty being under contract for the 2023-24 season as well. The article talks about how the price of bringing in Lafferty is probably a third round pick, with the Leafs likely preferring to give up a fourth. At either of those prices, the idea of bringing in Lafferty doesn’t seem like a bad idea, it just might be a tad underwhelming if that’s all the Leafs did. It wouldn’t be. There would be potential challenges in fitting Lafferty into the Leafs lineup as the bottom six is already quite crowded and there are only 23 roster spots to work with. Perhaps Lafferty only makes sense if a forward from the Leafs roster is departing in the next five weeks.
For now, Lafferty is most certainly an under the radar name to keep an eye on.

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