We might as well dive right into the Leaflets because I’m on vacation now and I’m too drunk to pretend I’ve been paying close attention to the NHL over the weekend. So instead I’ll focus on what I’ve seen has happened and sort the rest out when I’ve got reliable wifi and the desire to worry about who will center the Leafs fourth line next season.
Not a lot of NHL news, except for those times stuff came out of left field
Anyone who did the math on the Wild and the Lightning knew those solid players would have to make their way onto the trade market, and while Fiala for the Wild wasn’t as obvious, McDonagh was so heavily scripted the trade could have been a Marvel movie. McDonagh was the only possible player they could dump to basically run back everyone else (minus Palat), and Cernak and Sergachev can definitely pick up the slack. Though I’m heading down too much of a rabbit hole of breaking down the trades. The main thing here is that there wasn’t a lot of heavy chatter about either of these moves until they happened. That’s going to be the name of the game for the next few days as there is no guarantee of news until draft day. Something from the Leafs would be wonderful, but if history repeats itself, Kyle Dubas will be fairly underwhelming over the next few days.
As for what we can learn about the McDonagh trade, well…there could be a market for someone like Jake Muzzin if the Leafs are willing to look at the cap space as the most important part of the return. There’s likely also going to be a Jeff Petry trade at some point that further cements the price for players like Muzzin, and if there is a chance to move him, perhaps the time is now.
The Fiala deal, as well as Boeser presumably being off the market, establishes the market for someone like William Nylander and begins setting the price. I can’t help but think the Leafs should at least be entertaining the idea of what the market is going to be for Nylander as we can expect a tough negotiation based on the previous go and the Leafs will be committing a lot of money at the same time the Nylander negotiation goes down. That’s only a couple of years away so if there is there now, you can start considering it.
Elliotte Friedman’s suggested moves for the Leafs are going to ruin my week
We’ll quickly gloss over the goaltending stuff that Friedman mentioned, and I have to say that with as much as I know about goaltending coaches both Sylvain Rodrigue and Michael Leighton seem like solid options. Stuart Skinner has progressed well in Bakersfield and that speaks to Rodrigue, and Windsor had a strong year and I’ve always been a fan of Michael Leighton as a depth goaltender, so why not like him in this role as well? As for who is in net for the Leafs, it feels like everyone is shrugging and saying “your guess is as good as mine” at this point, but it is universally agreed upon that it is the area the Leafs need to address either through quality or for cost management. It will be the story for the next couple of weeks whether we like it or not.
Another situation to watch remains Rasmus Sandin. All I’ve heard is this is a trickier situation than the Maple Leafs hoped or wanted. Valeri Nichushkin is exactly what they need, but we don’t know if he’ll be available. Maybe Max Domi fits. Completely irresponsible whopper of a long-shot prediction? They take a look at Giroux, but it means someone big goes.
Okay, so I’m actually open to the idea of a Sandin trade, but a reasonable contract signing would be so much nicer. That said if he heads into the free agency eligible for an offer sheet it seems inevitable that the Leafs will either be overpaying for Sandin or collecting a 2nd round pick as compensation.
At this point, Muzzin would be hard to move and moving Sandin has the potential for the Leafs to make a bigger splash. It will be interesting to see how the Leafs proceed.
Now onto Nichushkin. He’s absolutely a player the Leafs would have loved when he was priced right. He’s not going to be priced reasonably come free agency and as good as he is that’s probably a player it makes sense to pass on unless he’s part of a much more drastic overhaul.
Domi…well, I straight up don’t like him, but it’s time to consider what he brings to the table a bit more than I have previously. So Domi isn’t some grand physical presence that the Leafs have been searching for. He is a hot head who will be roped into every scrum, and I’m actually looking at this as a selling point for the Leafs because they don’t have much of that in their top six. Just don’t expect physical play while the game is actually on.
He’s a playmaker first and foremost and he has been rediscovering more of that game lately, and while he isn’t an NHL center, he could be a guy who pinch hits during injuries and has someone who can keep a second line afloat if one of the top two centers goes down does add value.
Domi had a $5.3M AAV and in no universe should he expect a raise on that. If Domi can be had a cheaper price, he might be a savvy signing, I just won’t like it. Even if there is a fire.
The last player mentioned there is Claude Giroux. TLN has already had a full dive on that, and I’ll spare you too many thoughts here other than to say he’s not my first choice, the Leafs are probably not his first choice, he’s not going to be cheap, the Leafs have other priorities, and if it happened I’d probably be on board with it.
Finally the potential changes coming at Sportsnet
Jonah Sigel, better known as YYZSportsmedia, has reported there could be some big cuts coming at Sportsnet
, and that’s not something I’m ever comfortable with delving too far into on this site other than to say that Sportsnet has had their share of hits (Botterill) and misses (pretty much everything else) over the past couple of seasons and on the surface changing the broadcast up has some appeal to the audience.
Of course, a program that has struggled to be entertaining, informative, or “must watch” (when the Leafs aren’t actively on the ice) isn’t going to get things right when it comes to fixing their problems, and instead, they are going to head further into the abyss.
We were gifted one year of Pierre McGuire being off our televisions but the Sens couldn’t find it in their hearts to keep him away from cameras and even more, microphones. Now he’s back. In draft form, and really there is no worse time to deal with McGuire’s asinine takes.
As I alluded to above there is a lot to dislike about Sportnet’s coverage, but the draft might be at the forefront of that. Throughout the year Sam Cosentino is positioned as their draft expert which is a tough look when TSN is trotting out Bob McKenzie with the gold standard draft list. Throw in the fact that Bob’s list is 100 players deep and Cosentino’s is 32 names seeming pulled at random off the central scouting lists. Their coverage is a mess. Adding McGuire to it is nothing more than a reminder that everything you need to know gets tweeted out in real-time and there is no reason to watch the draft unless you know one of the kids walking up to the podium.
Once upon a time, Sportsnet tried (and somewhat failed) with George Stroumboulopoulos as a host while packaging him with the most overpriced, bland hockey personalities that money could buy at the time instead of either allowing him to use his strength in interviewing or providing him a panel that might actually say something interesting. Following the Stroumboulopoulos attempt Sportsnet has doubled down on standard format every chance they’ve got and now that’s led us to Pierre McGuire. I can’t think of a worse outcome.
My fingers are crossed that this is a one-off event and McGuire is coming in because their only viable option right now seems to be having Jeff Marek talking nonstop about the draft class for three hours straight, and this the safety net so Jeff can pee.
Anyways, I’m tired and the point I’m trying to make is that it seems unimaginable for anyone to want more Pierre in their hockey broadcast and this seems like an expensive step backward for a network that is prone to some really bad ideas.