Leafs hold off on the goaltenders, Expensive 3C options, Oilers have the cap relief to add someone: Rumours

Photo credit:Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
It’s time for everyone’s forced weekly column of looking at what is going on the rumour world and with a front office as quiet as Kyle Dubas’, we’re often forced to reach a little. And even more so when the Leafs are winning and not coming out of a tough road trip. So here we go…

Leafs were potentially in the goaltender market, except they weren’t

It was a crazy couple of days going from the Samsonov injury to the Petruzzelli signing to Matt Murray claiming himself pretty much good to go. Over that time we ran the gambit of looking at short term depth options, long term starter options, and pretty much everything in between. While the need isn’t there right now, counting on Matt Murray staying healthy or Erik Kallgren’s play being sustained is certainly wishful thinking and we’ll look at some of the names that were thrown out there.
For the purpose of cross network synergy, here’s who Frank Seravalli suggested:
  • Joonas Korpisalo
  • James Reimer
  • Jonathan Quick
  • Dan Vladar
  • Anton Khudobin
So let’s go on in order on the suggestions, and first acknowledge that Joonas Korpisalo has been connected to the Leafs since before time began. He was very much a target when Steve Briere was the goal coach, but there is absolutely a Curtis Sanford connection to the Blue Jackets goaltending approach as well that can’t be ignored. He could be someone the Leafs believe they can work with or at the very least be an affordable longer term option despite being a UFA at the end of this season.
James Reimer is a ghost of Leafs past and while revisiting former Leafs goaltenders shouldn’t have much appeal, his blend of consistency and free agent status makes him an option, as well as the Sharks very clearly being in a seller mode already.
Jonathan Quick is another name often connected to the Leafs, but with the Kings being competitive in the Pacific it seems premature to think LA is ready to move on or that Toronto wants to pay the price for Quick. Later in the season when standings are more concrete he might be an option, but I feel like he is more of a veteran tandem option in free agency than someone the Leafs look at now. Again he was a target during the Steve Briere years, whether he’s still of interest with Curtis Sanford guiding the goalies remains to be seen.
Dan Vladar is an up-and-comer that the Flames wouldn’t let go cheap, and quite possibly don’t want to let go of while Markstrom struggles. Young and good is the winning combination and I wouldn’t hate the Leafs for considering this option.
Anton Khudobin was the first name that came to mind when Samsonov was hurt. He has NHL experience and could take over the net for an extended period, he would practically be given away by the Stars, but comes with the caveat of not being particularly good. When the Leafs rolled the dice on Petruzzelli this option seemed to come off the table.
Beyond Servalli’s list there are two names to consider at opposite ends of the spectrum. Magnus Hellberg was put on waivers yesterday and while the Leafs don’t have a contract space to claim him, they could trade for him if he clears and he’d be an experienced third string option for the Leafs to consider going forward. The issue there is the Senators probably also want that option for their team and over paying for Hellberg seems silly.
The other option is a drum I will beat relentlessly and that is to consider paying a premium for Thatcher Demko. Despite his struggles this year he can be a star goaltender in the league and he’s a goaltender that Curtis Sanford helped build. It’s unlikely he’d be available if the Canucks are just making some minor changes and shuffling the deck chairs to get back on track, but if they are going into a full rebuild, Demko’s prime is better spent elsewhere and the Canucks are better off cashing in.
Alas, the goalie talk is somewhat irrelevant as the bandage is still holding for the Leafs for now.

LeBrun looks at the center market

Pierre LeBrun threw four interesting names out there in regards to what the Avs might do to address their 2C situation, but I can’t help but think they’d be interesting options for the Leafs at 3C or possibly give Toronto the opportunity to try John Tavares playing on the top line with Matthews and Marner a bit while maintaining a strong second line center option. If Jake Muzzin is on the LTIR for the rest of the season and some salary is retained, so of these players could fit.
Ryan O’Reilly is by far the most interesting name he suggested and thinks he could be available if the Blues continue to slide. He is a pending UFA so I guess that makes some sense, but it is going to need to be one hell of a slide to make this more of a reality. With a $7.5M cap hit, it’s possible to make it work with a Pierre Engvall sized salary heading back the other way, but it’s also not likely something that either team is considering just yet.
Jonathan Toews and Sean Monahan are two of the other names suggested, and both the Hawks and the Canadiens are very clearly sellers this year. Toews is by far the blue chip option of the two, but one that requires 50% salary retention to be in anyway plausible. Monahan is much more of a gamble and at this point is far more of a 3C option than a 2C playing down. His potential price tag and cost to acquire would be far friendly, but it’s debatable of how much of an upgrade he’d be.
That brings us to the final name suggested and that’s Bo Horvat. I’m a fan of Bo Horvat and if the Canucks are in fact blowing it up, Horvat is a player they will want to cash in on. I’d certainly start my call to the Canucks talking about Demko, but Horvat would be the next name on my big game hunting list there. He fits the bill of being someone the Leafs could use throughout their top nine and might come at a reduced cost to acquire compared to Ryan O’Reilly. He’d also be the player of the four that have been suggested that would be worth putting in the most effort to try to re-sign.

Oilers can suddenly do some adding.

Evander Kane going on the LTIR for the next four months opens the Oilers up to the potential of doing some early adding and given Edmonton’s love of Leafs hand me downs it seems like it worth looking at them as a potential dumping ground for Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, or the far less likely Justin Holl.
Kerfoot should have the most appeal of the three to them, as his play very much mirrors that of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but at a slightly lower offensive output but with a better 200 foot game. He doesn’t replace all of Kane’s offense but he gives them some while rounding out the overall play of their forward group.
Pierre Engvall may have appeal as a penalty killing specialist. The Oilers penalty kill has been abysmal, and Engvall could help them take a step in the right direction.
As for Holl…well… Holl has a proven history of being at least better than Tyson Barrie, so there’s that.
As for anything the Leafs might want out of the Oilers, I feel compelled to always suggest Jesse Puljujarvi, a player I like but his acquisition doesn’t really help free up any cap space or roster space for the Leafs by bringing him in. No one I’ve mentioned here really warrants the Oilers parting with one of their top prospects, but perhaps someone like Tyler Tullio who is near the top of their B grade prospects would be an ideal target. Really though this would be about getting a draft pick, the cap space, and the contract space as the return.
Given that Holland and Dubas aren’t exactly friendly, and the Canadiens have a giant “take our crappy forwards” sign above their arena, this too seems as unlikely as the Leafs landing a goaltender or a third line center in the near future. A slow week for rumours, but an opportunity for wilder speculation.

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