Elliotte Friedman speculates on Maple Leafs’ major deadline targets

Photo credit:Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Murphy
1 year ago
Let it be known that Elliotte Friedman does not partake in Phone It In Fridays. Sportsnet’s top insider spoke on both his 32 Thoughts podcast as well as The Jeff Marek Show on Sportsnet 590 at length about the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas’ potential trade deadline plans.
“Probably a 10” said Friedman on 32 Thoughts when asked by co-host Jeff Marek to grade (on a 1-10 scale) how intriguing the Leafs are as a story when it comes to the deadline. “There’s so much on the line with them. If they don’t at least get a first round series win, what’s gonna happen here?”
Friedman reiterated on speculation from a few weeks ago that the Leafs would be one of many teams inquiring on Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov. LA, Boston, and Edmonton were the other potential suitors mentioned.
“Those are the teams I look at and I say they’re probably around there. I think there’s a few more because he’s shown some indication that he’s willing to sign somewhere for a bit of term if he thinks you’re a contender. I think Toronto is in that group.”
While there’s never any shortage on a link between the Leafs and literally any defenceman on the market (whether it makes sense or not, Friedman also acknowledged that Toronto’s main interest at the deadline, if they can only make one addition, will likely be at the forward position.
“I think Toronto is really looking at forwards. I think they’re trying to find another forward out there, someody who they think can make a difference for them. I look at Dubas and the thing I wonder is how high he can go on a forward.”
One such forward Friedman spoke of specifically is the biggest fish of them all, San Jose’s Timo Meier.
“Who’s in it to sign Meier and who’s in it to rent Meier?” Friedman mused. “There certainly seems to be a feeling out there that if what he considers a legit contender wants to sign him long term, then he is prepared to be reasonable (and negotiate below the $10 million qualifying offer he’s due after this season.)”
He went on to say, specifically about the Leafs:
“One guy said to me that there are teams out there who think that Toronto, at the very least, has considered ‘do we go get Meier for this run and then sort it out later? Basically punt the decision to the summer and say ‘alright, we bring him in, we see how this goes, see who has a good playoff and who doesn’t and figure this out in June’ and I don’t know that Toronto’s thinking about that, I would bet at the very least, knowing the way that Dubas thinks, that he has at least thought about the idea.”
He went on to speak about Dubas’ recent press conference and how Meier could be at least flipped at the draft for ‘what they pay to get him’ if a new contract won’t fit within the confines of the salary cap. It must also be noted that the New Jersey Devils reportedly have extremely high interest in Meier and have asked the Sharks for a courtesy call when they receive an offer they like, to give them one last chance to try and match it so we’ll have to keep a close eye on that situation as well.
On Friday afternoon, Friedman and Marek reunited for a further discussion on The Jeff Marek Show where Friedman acknowledged off the top that Dubas might not swing for the fences, per what was implied at the press conference earlier this week, then followed up immediately with:
“I think he (Dubas) has thought about some big things. Sometimes it’s tough to tellif it’s due dilligence or anything more than that, but I think they’ve called San Jose on Meier and just said ‘if we were to do it, what are we talking about here?’ Do I think it’s more likely that they go after like a Barbashev type? Yeah I think that’s probably true.”
After reiterating the thought about Gavrikov being a possible add on the blue line, Friedman stated that he thinks Toronto have been around St. Louis, inquiring on Barbashev, Noel Acciari, and maybe Ryan O’Reilly, while stating once again that he thinks Dubas and co are at least checking in on the big fish like Meier.
As usual, it’s important to note that this is all speculation at this point, no one truly knows what Dubas will do over the next three weeks before the March 3rd deadline, but the conversations have begun and these ideas are beginning to take root.

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