Elliotte Friedman breaks down the Chris Tanev sweepstakes, Bob McKenzie discusses the Leafs’ plans for free agency, Mitch Marner features in the NHL18 ‘teaser’ trailer, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Insider Trading: Teams are lining up for Vatanen (TSN)
TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the latest on Chris Chelios leaving Detroit and potentially joining the NHLPA, how the Ducks will are approaching the expansion draft, which teams have interest in Jordan Eberle, what it would take to get Mike Smith from Arizona and much more.

Darren Dreger on Colorado’s interest in Kyle Dubas:

His role is expected to get bigger, to expand. Now, whether or not that means that he ultimately becomes their GM when Lou Lamoriello is out of the way, that’s a little bit premature. I believe that he’s been given a contract extension.

What a bizarre back and forth between Colorado and Toronto. Toronto did give the Avalanche permission to speak to Kyle Dubas but only because the Maple Leafs believed that they were going to swap philosophical ideas or work on the world of analytics. They did not see Colorado looking at Kyle Dubas as a potential hire. That’s why, ultimately, the whole thing was nixed.

Pierre Lebrun on the Sami Vatanen sweepstakes:

A lot of people are looking at the Ducks ahead of the expansion draft and feeling like maybe there is a gun to their head. I’m not sure that’s how they view it. Frankly, they’re in a good position when you consider how many teams in the NHL are in dire need of help on D and they happen to have one that they possibly can move.

I think it’s going to be Sami Vatanen. I’m told teams are absolutely lining up in their interest for him. Among the teams that I believe have interest are Toronto, Tampa Bay, New Jersey, but honestly there are more teams than that.

If the Ducks move ahead on a trade for Sami Vatanen, it allows them to protect all the guys they really want to, including Josh Manson. A lot of people were wondering how they’re going to be able to protect him and that maybe he’d be left unprotected – no way. He will be an Anaheim Duck through that process.

McKenzie: I don’t see the Leafs as big free agent shoppers (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider Bob McKenzie joined Naylor & Landsberg with guest host Derek Taylor to discuss Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, if the Maple Leafs could be interested in any of the players on Frank Seravalli’s Free Agent Frenzy list, and more.

First, McKenzie on Dubas:

The whole thing is more or less shrouded in secrecy. There is not a lot that we know. Elliotte Friedman was first to report that Colorado had asked for permission to talk to Kyle Dubas. By the time that Elliotte first reported that, the thing had actually been put together and Dubas wasn’t going to the Colorado Avalanche. The fact that they had asked for permission was 100% accurate.

He’s not going to the Avalanche; certainly not now. My understanding of the situation — again, it’s totally shrouded in secrecy, so best I can tell — is that the approach to Kyle Dubas to the Toronto Maple Leafs was made by Colorado Avalanche ownership. The intention or desire, or the proposal, was that Kyle Dubas would run all of the hockey operations for the Colorado Avalanche.

Now, it didn’t happen for whatever reason. Some people believe the Leafs had the ability to withdraw Dubas from the process. Maybe Dubas withdrew himself. I don’t know, but in any case, it didn’t happen. At this point in time, it’s not expected to happen.

McKenzie on the Leafs‘ level of involvement in free agency this summer:

I could be wrong on this, but I don’t see the Leafs necessarily as a big free agent shopper right now. There might be something very specific in the lower echelons, but in terms of the big-name guys, a lot of these big-name guys are playing positions or are a style of player that doesn’t really fit with the Leafs, especially in terms of what these guys expect to get on July 1st in terms of term and dollars.

The Leafs have plenty of cap dollars now, but that’s going to dissipate very quickly once Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander get out of their entry-level deals over the next couple of years. I think they have to be very judicious in how they use that money. If the Leafs are going to find anybody right now, it’s more likely to be short-term. Those big names that are available on July 1 — they aren’t signing short-term deals anywhere.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman with The Instigators (WGR 550)

On the interest in Tanev, including potential inquiries from Toronto:

I know a lot of teams have asked about him… Tanev is from Toronto, so I don’t think he’d have a big problem coming East. I think Dallas would love to have him. I could even see a team like Toronto wanting to have him. Chris Tanev is not the biggest name in the world, but he’s a solid guy and he plays a very smart game.

But I think Vancouver has told teams he’s not coming out of here easily. They really need a lot, Vancouver. They need scorers. I think if you can get them a scorer, it would pique their interest. But I think it’s going to cost a lot, and there is a lot of competition. The thing that [Vancouver] told one team was that the moment we trade this guy, we’re going to need someone like him. I would think he’s only getting dealt if he we hear the trade and we go, “oh, okay. That’s why he’s getting traded, because he’s worth that much.”

That’s a big deal. That costs you a lot.

On Chris Tanev’s lack of offensive production:

The one thing I’d say about his [10 points of offensive production] is that there are some guys in the league who are not big points guys but they get the puck out. If you watch Klefbom and Larsson in Edmonton in the playoffs this year, those guys were never going to get a tonne of ponts, but they get the puck out and they get it on someone’s stick who can get it out. Tanev is like that.

First of all, Vancouver couldn’t score a tonne this year, so that affects him. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a 40 or 50-point guy, but if you look at the value of players who, when they get the puck on their stick, know how to get it out of your zone, he can do that. Plus, he’s also signed for three more years at a pretty reasonable number.

I would just say that there is growing interest in defencemen now who can at least move the puck, even if they’re not big scorers. Klefbom is one of them; what a great playoff. I think this guy is in the same mould.

On comparables for Tanev:

I don’t think he’s as physical as Kevin Klein would be, but I think there is a good comparison there. A guy who can do a lot of things quietly. He’s a quiet guy, too. He never says anything.

I think Marc-Edouard Vlasic is [a great player]. Someone asked me this morning, “how many number-one D are their in the league?” Vlasic is on my list. I don’t know if [Tanev] is that good, but it’s a similar mould. He gets all the tough matchups like Vlasic did. Vlasic, to me, is elite, elite. I don’t know if Tanev is that high, but I’d say he’s a level below him.

A guy who is not going to get you a tonne of points, but a guy who gets you out of a lot of trouble and faces your best matchups and does pretty well.

Craig’s List: Hischier edges Patrick in final ranking (TSN)
The final rankings are in. Halifax Mooseheads centre Nico Hischier’s slight edge over Brandon Wheat Kings centre Nolan Patrick in the dynamic skill department is the reason he sits atop the final edition of Craig’s List ahead of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Swiss pivot put up 86 points in 57 QMJHL games this season, demonstrating his high-end potential to be an elite player at the NHL level.

Henri Jokiharju – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
One of four Finnish defencemen who could be selected inside the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Henri Jokiharju possesses many of the qualities associated with the “modern defenceman” archetype. What the 17-year-old Oulu native lacks in size he makes up for with intelligence, skating and puck-moving ability, all of which helped Jokiharju adjust to the North American game in his first year with the Portland Winterhawks in 2016-17.

Jason Robertson – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
As the year went on, Jason Robertson just kept getting better and better. The Frontenacs were far from an offensive juggernaut, but Robertson was one of the league’s premier performers in the second half of the year and the playoffs. In his final 25 games of the year (including the playoffs), he had 18 goals and 27 assists for 45 points, or very nearly two points per game.

Juuso Valimaki – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
In terms of offensive production, Valimaki produced one of the best seasons of any draft-eligible player in 2016-17 with 61 points in 60 games (19g, 32a), including 14 even-strength goals. Among first-year eligible CHL defencemen in the 2017 draft class, he’s the only one to finish over a point-per-game. On the list of CHL defencemen selected in the first rounds of the 2015 and 2016 drafts (a list that includes Ivan Provorov, Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev, Jakob Chychrun and Thomas Chabot), only Provorov achieved that feat.

Nicolas Hague – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
Two things leap off the page with the Kitchener native: His size and his offensive production from the blue line. He tallied 46 points in 65 regular season games — 15th among OHL defencemen in points scoring, and second among the 17 and 18-year-old defencemen eligible for the draft – before adding 12 points in 18 playoff games. His 18 goals and 204 shots on goal ranked him third among OHL defencemen in goal scoring (first among draft eligibles) and fourth in shots on goal (first among draft eligibles). According to the Steelheads’ coordinator of hockey analytics Zac Urback, Hague also shows well according to manual tracking metrics.

Maple Leafs & the NHL Draft: Who fell to 17 in the past? (PPP)
There appears to be a wider range of opinions this year compared to in the past. In particular, Nick Suzuki (#19) and Timothy Liljegren (#22) were ranked fairly low on their list, and I would be excited to land either player at #17. All in all, after taking a look at previous drafts, my hope that is one of Eeli Tolvanen (#11), Valimaki (#12), Suzuki (#19), or Liljegren (#22) are available. Any of these would be a great addition to Toronto’s system.

Mitch Marner stars in first look at ‘NHL 18’ (EA Sports)

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