Friedman: Leafs still hot on O’Reilly

Elliotte Friedman suggested today that the Leafs are still “very interested” in 24-year-old centerman and 2016-UFA-to be Ryan O’Reilly, with Joe Sakic starting to listen more intently on trade offers for obvious reasons.

For now, let’s put aside the contract concerns and how much O’Reilly might cost to sign if acquired (significant concerns in their own right).

O’Reilly will be 25 by the time his future new deal starts, and the latest rumours are leading to some questions about whether this move would comprise a classic Leafs shortcut for a team that should be bottoming out and ‘rebuilding properly’ once and for all.

To state the obvious, it’s entirely contingent on what the Leafs are trading for O’Reilly. It only becomes a shortcut if the Leafs are giving up a package that includes high picks, and/or William Nylander. If a trade were to involve Jake Gardiner or James van Riemsdyk, just as examples, the Leafs are technically getting younger (in both cases), they’re sending some cap back, and they’re changing their roster constitution significantly.

The Avalanche, as far as their process is concerned, don’t necessarily need more future assets right now and could definitely be enticed by the right “hockey trade.” Friedman reported today that the Avalance are looking for a left-handed top-four defenceman to pair with Erik Johnson.

I had heard they wanted a left-shot defenceman. Erik Johnson is a right shot and Tyson Barrie is a right shot. I heard they were looking for a left-hand shot defenceman to play with those guys, and then somebody disputed that and said it’s not 100 percent the key.

Well, yesterday on the conference call I asked and Patrick Roy took the question and said, “I’m a coach, I’ll answer that. Yes, I do believe we need a left-hand shot defenseman. A top-four guy. No offense to who we’ve got here, but we need a top-four, left-hand D to play with Johnson.”

I do think if you’ve got somebody who is a left shot, a defenseman who can play top four, you potentially have a match for what Colorado is looking for.”

The idea that the Leafs – a team that has, for four seasons running, iced Tyler Bozak as their 1C and for the last two had Trevor Smith spend far too many games as their 3C — shouldn’t be in on a 24-year-old 1B center like O’Reilly, on account of some unknowable rebuilding timeline (tank for X seasons and you’ll be good in X years is not how it works in practice), doesn’t check out. O’Reilly still has his prime ahead of him, and if it improves the young nucleus of talent in the organization, especially at such a vital and neglected position, it behooves the Leafs to look deeply into it.

Where the doubts come in is with the Leafs’ ability to table a competitive enough package to land O’Reilly, considering their situation as a team. There’s no denying there are contenders out there much more willing to give up a good pick and/or a high-end prospect, to go along with a current roster piece, than the Leafs are.


Leafs will have no issues getting Hyman signed

From Bob McKenzie:

When Bobby Mac says something will get done, it gets done.

The Leafs never would’ve made the trade if they didn’t pretty much know this was the case.

All the details on Hyman, and the trade, are available here. With the Marlies opening up a big hole at center with the departure of McKegg, you wonder if Nylander now shifts over for some development time at center ice.

Wings out on Phaneuf?

There were conflicting reports about just how close the Phaneuf to the Red Wings deal was at the trade deadline. We heard talk that a deal was on the table involving Brendan Smith, Stephen Weiss and other pieces, but the Leafs balked at the return. There’s also been claims Phaneuf was dangled in front of the Red Wings and their interest was tepid at best. Either way, despite this passage from Friedman in 30 Thoughts:

5. Hearing Detroit is looking for a defenceman who can take some of the physical responsibility from Niklas Kronwall. While the Red Wings like their prospects, they see too many similarities to what is already there. Wanted: someone with a bit of mean.

… it appears the Red Wings are out on Phaneuf, according to reliable Wings beat reporter Ansar Khan.

Take this for what it’s worth. There’s been smoke here for a while, but Khan says there is no fire.

Certainly interesting if the Wings’ interest in Phaneuf 180’d once Babcock left…

 Friday Links:

  • Elliotte Friedman: Avs ‘Listening Hard’ on O’Reilly (Today’s Slapshot)
    “So I look at it as if nothing has really changed there. They’re hoping to sign him. They may not be able to. I think the sense is they probably can’t, so they’re really listening hard, I guess, on him. And I do believe the Maple Leafs would be very interested.”
  • James Mirtle: Maple Leafs rebuild turns sights to Kessel, Phaneuf and a flawed core (The Globe and Mail)
    While the return is paramount if they move a star such as Kessel, it’s much less important with the other three (Phaneuf, Lupul, Bozak). Their value is lower, for one, and having the roster spot and cap space open offers value of its own.
  • Mark Easson: Rumors V: Dreger on Bernier and the Maple Leafs (NHL Trade Rumours)
    “Well if it goes through with arbitration then, he may not be far off the mark (referring to David Bastl guess of $3.77M and 1 year), but my sense is that the Leafs will likely reach an agreement prior to getting to arbitration.”
  • Staff: Wings no longer interested in Phaneuf (
    “Utterly disappointed with another playoff failure, change is in the offing within their core roster if there’s a deal that makes sense. Word is the Blues would like to move apples for apples in any deal, which is a very difficult thing to do in the cap system, particularly in a summer when so many teams are looking to shed salary, not add any.