Leafs 1st round pick valuation, Treliving’s big week, and the summer of trades: Leaflets

Jon Steitzer
10 months ago
I’ve been away for a week and have been blissfully enjoying what the summer provides that isn’t NHL transaction related. It’s been a nice break and a calm before the storm. The NHL draft, the buyout window still being open, a schedule release, the *sigh* NHL awards, qualifying offers, arbitration announcements, free agency opening, and hopefully a few trades should make this a good week to see what the new direction for the Leafs will be.

The bizarre thing that happens to 1st round pick valuation

It’s kinda funny that a late first round pick holds enough value to be a key piece in acquiring almost any NHL star player at the trade deadline or earlier. In the week up to the draft however, the Leafs first likely doesn’t do much more than land a third line forward or at best a fourth defenseman as the return.
As much as Brad Treliving is removed from the drafting process and how much the Leafs need to be in a win now mode still, odds are the best thing for the Leafs to do is still head into the draft planning on using their pick.
The 28th overall pick is still a chance for the Leafs to get in on a prospect before it turns into picking names out of a hat, and while as much as I respect draft pick valuation charts, it’s worth appreciating that not all drafts are created equal and not all scouting departments are equal either. The Leafs should trust their team in what is a pretty promising draft year.
That being said when it comes to trading up the Leafs are probably not wise to do it in a year when their GM isn’t sitting at their draft table, unless they are trading all the way up to the top and grabbing someone who could be in their lineup this year.
And when it comes to trading down…well…I can say that I personally wasn’t a fan when Kyle Dubas did it and I’m not sure that I see any reason for the practice to continue. If you are truly excited about a prospect that might be available later, it’s probably worth acquiring an additional pick instead to pull that off, not give up a blue chip in the process.

Whether he likes it or not we’re about to have opinions on Brad Treliving

Honestly I feel that I’ve already formed an underwhelmed opinion when it comes to Brad Treliving. Bringing back Sheldon Keefe is taking the easy way out. It’s largely committing to more of the same and no one should be particularly excited about the same unless second place division finishes really do it for you.
He’s brought in Shane Doan, which is fine, but that doesn’t particularly move the bar one way or the other. And meeting with Auston Matthews and assessing what he has is the bare minimum of what should be required of him. In fact, getting Auston Matthews signed swiftly won’t be so much an accomplishment as it is meeting expectations.
There is obviously a lot that can be going on behind the scenes and there is no telling what Treliving either has lined up or is presently working on, but if you are like me and wanted to see Brad hit the ground running, this has been an awfully quiet month.
This week changes a lot of that. He will have to make moves and will be judged on them. And while I can’t say what will make you happy and consider the start of the Treliving era a success, I can say what I consider a meets expectations and exceeds expectations for Treliving this week.
Meets ExpectationsExceeds Expectations
Auston Matthews is signed on July 1stAuston Matthews is signed on July 1st with a cap hit at or below $13.4M
The Leafs select a center with their 1st round pickThe Leafs move up in the draft or are able to flip the pick for a top six forward
The Leafs add size and toughness without paying a premiumThe Leafs find a blend of size/toughness/skill
Matt Murray isn’t a LeafMatt Murray isn’t a Leaf and the Leafs didn’t need to pay a lot to make it happen
The Leafs make a tradeThe Leafs make a trade that upgrades either their Top 6F or Top 4D
This is what I’m asking of Treliving this week, not the summer. This seems like more than enough to throw at him for now. The Nylander situation is certainly a big one that needs to be sorted and to some degree I think the importance of the Samsonov contract situation has been understated as well. We’ll give Brad a bit more time with those though.

The lack of worthwhile free agents will force more trades

The NHL has been surprisingly more interesting on this front than recent years and it’s not surprising that in a year when Michael Bunting is one of the top free agents that teams are being forced to look elsewhere for upgrades.
This seems like a mixed bag for the Leafs as they are about to be very limited when it comes to time as a number of significant no movement clauses take effect, and with years of trading first round picks and thinning out their prospect pool, as well as going with a top heavy roster that allows for some deckchair shuffling within the core but maybe not actual upgrades.
The Leafs best trade chips might be their 2024 1st, Topi Niemela and Timothy Liljegren, three assets that I’m not sure anyone should be excited about moving outside of some of the better names the Winnipeg Jets allegedly have available.
No, if the Leafs are going to be active in the trade market they need a beggars can’t be choosers model. Something like Ryan Johansen being floated at half price is something that the Leafs and their comfortable cap situation need to explore. The Leafs need to deal with teams like Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver that are backed into a corner cap wise. I’d include Boston in that list, but I’m not holding my breath on the Leafs and Bruins helping each other out.
You’d expect that Brad Treliving would know the Pacific Division GMs fairly well, and with Vegas, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver all in somewhat tight situations when it comes to the cap, the Leafs need to find a way to capitalize on this.
If Toronto is aggressive in free agency instead of trades I’d take that as a bad sign for the Treliving era.

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