The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting more of their firesale done ahead of the deadline, sending pending UFAs Nick Spaling and Roman Polak to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Raffi Torres, a 2017 second round draft choice and a 2018 second round draft choice.
- Read: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Shawn Matthias to Colorado Avalance for a fourth round pick & Colin Smith
Raffi Torres comes back in the deal in lieu of retaining any salary, currently on his final year of a $2.125 million AAV contract. After serving his half-season suspension, he’s currently in the AHL and stands to remain there for the rest of the year, which buries $950,000 of his cap hit.
The Leafs are wisely keeping Torres away from the organization by loaning him back to San Jose’s AHL affiliate.
Polak was seemingly the Leafs‘ most valuable trade chip among the rentals. He has been playing significant minutes under Mike Babcock out of necessity, averaging nearly 20 minutes a night including three and a half minutes a game on the penalty kill. With Dion Phaneuf gone, he essentially became the Leafs‘ third defenceman. The Leafs‘ blueline now becomes completely free of veterans save Matt Hunwick, who has a year left on his contract but could also be shopped in the next week.
Nick Spaling has only just recently shown one flash of being a competent bottom-six contributor offensively with three points in his last four games. He had just four in his previous 31, so his value was minimal.
Bundling Polak with Spaling and taking back Torres’ salary for the rest of the year enabled the Leafs to grab two top 60 picks for future drafts, which is more creative, clever maneuvering from Leafs brass.
The Leafs will have ten picks in the first two rounds of the next three drafts.
There is also some sense in stockpiling picks for future drafts if you’re in the Leafs’ position with a long-term rebuild vision in mind. Teams tend to value picks that are a year or more away less, first of all, which is reflected in the Leafs’ ability to grab two seconds for Polak and Spaling here. Second of all, there always has to be some forethought put into managing the cap several years down the line. With 12 picks in 2016, loading up on picks in future drafts ensures there is some staggering of ELC expiration/RFA years for their future assets. The Leafs will have ten picks in the first two rounds of the next three drafts, a number that will only continue to grow.
The sum total of the deal is the Leafs getting two seconds for Polak and Spaling (and without retaining), which is good value.
The Leafs have now traded three of nine pending UFAs in the past 24 hours, with PA Parenteau, James Reimer, Brad Boyes, Michael Grabner, Mark Arcobello and Rich Clune still on the roster among the expiring UFA contracts.
The Leafs have not taken back NHL players in either the Matthias or the Polak/Spaling deals, so the likes of Josh Leivo (when he returns from injury), Brendan Leipsic, Viktor Loov and potentially others stand to receive some opportunity down the stretch.
Lamoriello says Leafs will call up Percy and Leipsic from Marlies.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 22, 2016