Rumours: The last week of Kerfoot as a Leaf?
By Jon Steitzer1 year ago
Heading into this offseason and perhaps even before the idea of accumulating boxes for moving should have been in the back of @Alexander Kerfoot’s head. Now in the next week and a half things are about to get very real for him.
The expansion draft coming next Wednesday always presented itself as a likely exit for Kerfoot, but there’s the small matter of Kerfoot having some value and the Leafs desire to not let him walk without at least a bit of a return.
Scoop: The belief is the Seattle Kraken have interest in selecting Kerfoot. The question for the Leafs is: Does it make sense to trade Kerfoot elsewhere before the Expansion Draft? The trick is any return short of future assets would also require protection from Seattle. That may ultimately result in losing Kerfoot from the roster, plus whomever the Kraken decide to then take – which could be defenseman Travis Dermott. Like many teams, the Leafs are weighing that out at the moment.
So that’s an interesting situation. The Leafs could potentially go into the expansion draft and lose Kerfoot or possibly @Travis Dermott for nothing, and that could be the end of it. In the event that it’s Kerfoot, Toronto still comes out of it nicely with $3.5M of cap space to work with in each of the next two years. That’s not bad.
If the Leafs trade Kerfoot beforehand, and then Travis Dermott is selected, the Leafs are now out two NHL players, with likely only futures to show for their return. That is a bit of a hit to NHL roster depth, but plenty of cap space. Probably not enough cap space to feel good about, but hey, every bit helps, right?
There’s also the matter of if the Leafs are okay with or trying to lose both of these players over the summer, they could potentially wait and see which one gets selected by Seattle and trade the other following the draft. The sense of urgency would have to be connected to there being a worthwhile return in place for Kerfoot before the expansion draft.
So basically the price where it starts seeming like it’s worth the Leafs trouble to find a home for Kerfoot is a second round pick. Ditto with Dermott, although the Leafs are a lot more locked in to keeping Dermott heading into the expansion draft as he necessary to meet the expansion draft exposed player criteria. @Pierre Engvall, @Wayne Simmonds, and @Jason Spezza all meet the exposure requirements for forwards, so trading Kerfoot makes more sense, and a second round pick for Kerfoot would not only free up $3.5M on the Leafs, but would give Toronto a second solid pick in a draft that currently only sees Toronto picking once in the first four rounds.
Teams like the Sabres, Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Predators, and more all have more than 3 picks in the first two rounds, and it’s entirely possible that at least one of them might prioritize immediate help. In many of these cases these are the same teams that would be struggling to find enough of their own players to protect in the expansion draft.
There probably also needs to be some consideration to whether the Leafs should be trying harder to keep Alex Kerfoot in the mix for Toronto, and for that I turn to Nick Richard’s report on Kerfoot from earlier in the offseason…
Kerfoot is a fine player but he isn’t exactly what you would consider a traditional third line center. He is on the smaller side and doesn’t play with very much physicality, he is weak in the faceoff circle, and he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently drive his own line – even when facing middling competition. Initially pegged as a direct replacement for Kadri in the third line center spot, Kerfoot has almost certainly been more impactful when playing on the wing in Toronto’s top six where his speed and intelligence has allowed him to keep up with the Leafs’ most talented players.
While Kerfoot has been a solid player and one of the few playoff bright spots for the Leafs, another undersized forward who lacks a physical game, nor the offense to justify it doesn’t make sense for the Leafs. His steady play and his versatility should still carry plenty of value around the league, and while his contract is neither a bargain nor a steal, the fact that the Leafs have recently paid out $1.95M in signing bonuses for Kerfoot might make him a dollar bargain for the teams focused more salary than cap hit.
In summary, Kerfoot will be a name to watch this week. We would have expected as much this offseason, but there is some potential that his movement is about to be more likely.
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