Pierre Lebrun says Jason Demers will be moved by the Florida Panthers and could see a fit in Toronto, Doug Gilmour breaks down new Leaf Eemeli Rasanen’s game, Leafs staying patient in pursuit of a defenceman, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Dreger: Toronto an unlikely destination for Thornton, Marleau (TSN1050)
Darren Dreger joined Dave and Michael to discuss the options for the Maple Leafs on D and if Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau could be options to land in Toronto.

What I would say is, “who are you bumping out of the middle?” It’s certainly not going to be Auston Matthews. Nazem Kadri has proven that he’s a rock solid number two. You still have Tyler Bozak, who — worst case — is your number three. Are you thinking that Joe Thornton is accepting a fourth-line center role with the Toronto Maple Leafs? I don’t think so. Thornton isn’t interested in a short-term right now. Maybe that’s just the negotiation and the back and forth that goes on.

He’s embedded in San Jose. I believe that Doug Wilson and the Sharks would absolutely want to keep Jumbo in the mix for a year or two years. Three years is a stretch. I don’t see Lou Lamoriello going beyond a year with Thornton in Toronto.

Gilmour: Eemeli Rasanen is a beast (TSN1050)
Maple Leafs great Doug Gilmour joined TSN Overdrive to break down the Leafs drafting Eemeli Rasanen 59th overall, defenseman with the Kingston Frontenacs, and Gilmour talks about his former Leafs linemate Dave Andreychuk being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

We have the European draft on Wednesday and we have two Finns that are returning, so we can’t pick anybody. Two years ago, we were in Plymouth and we were scouting the Four Nations Cup. We went to see him and the other Finn that we took. A 6’6 defenceman, and we’re watching him going, “Okay, this might be a little bit of work to do here.” He came into training camp and pretty much was our second best defenceman right from then on. He was a lot better than I ever expected. It’s junior hockey, but this guy is a beast. He hit guys and sometimes he’d take penalties on it because he’s so strong. Other times, when guys would hit him, they’d just bounce right off of him. He’s a good player. A good first pass. Again, his feet are good; they’re not great, but they’re good. He’s a great kid, and he competes hard.

30 Thoughts: What is the trade value of a first-round pick? (Sportsnet)
Snow and Toronto GM Lou Lamoriello had a seven-minute conversation on the draft floor prior to Round 1. As has been reported, the name James van Riemsdyk came up. The Islanders felt Andrew Ladd and Anders Lee fit the same pattern, so they passed.

On Leafs’ interest in Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau:

[Thornton]’s staying low profile — and there is serious doubt he actually wants to leave San Jose — but there is a list of teams who want to peer inside Joe Thornton’s head. At the draft, there was a lot of talk it would take a three-year deal to lure him. Potential suitors include Columbus, Los Angeles, Montreal and the Rangers. I could see Toronto having interest, but I’m not certain…  Toronto is quieter about its intentions, but don’t forget that Mike Babcock has plenty of Team Canada history with both Marleau and Thornton.

LeBrun: Leafs aren’t looking to jump start process to improve d-core (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey Insider, Pierre LeBrun, joined the guys to discuss the the Leafs need on defense, Toronto’s approach to acquiring a defensman and the potential moves in the NHL’s free agency.

On Leafs’ interest in Travis Hamonic:

They tried hard. They were in on it. I haven’t been able to confirm 100% if JVR’s name was a part of that or not. I certainly heard that, but can’t confirm that it was the case. All I can tell you is that, at the end of the draft, I spoke to Lou Lamoriello. He’s not going to confirm he’s in on Hamonic, but generically speaking, you could tell what he was talking about when he said there was a certain price that they’re just not going to pass for the sake of upgrading their blue line. We know what the price was — Garth Snow got it. He got a really nice haul. Snow did a good job driving up that market. It’s a big price to pay, and what Lou Lamoriello made clear after the draft wrapped up was that, to use his words, “We’re not going to jumpstart the process.”

Consider those words for a second. Those are heavy words from the GM of the Leafs. What he’s saying is: I know what you guys want us to do and it’s not like we’re not trying, but we’re not going to lose our minds for the sake of doing it. We’re going to do it when the price is right, but if we have to show up to camp with the same blue line, so be it. That’s not their plan — their plan is to upgrade their blue line — but I’m just saying they haven’t made it a thing that if they don’t do it, they consider this offseason a complete disappointment.

On Jason Demers:

Florida will move him. Possibly this week. He has a list, and I don’t know if Toronto’s on it or not. I’m just telling you that that’s a guy I think would fit in.

Jason Demers 2016-17 Statistics & Contract
Age: 29
Shoots: R
2016-17 Stats: 81 GP / 9G / 19A / 28 Pts / -14 / 49% CF / 43.6% GF
2017-18Modified NTC4,500,0005,400,000
2018-19Modified NTC4,500,0004,400,000
2019-20Modified NTC4.500,0003,600,000

Maple Leafs look to improve blue line in narrow defence market (Sportsnet)
“We’re busy,” said Babcock. “We’ve been busy the whole time. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean anything happens as far as from (the media’s) perspective. It happens from our perspective because we’re gathering the information and putting ourselves in the best spot. A lot of deals that you think you might be in on you’re never in on.

RFAs: Sparks, Hyman, Brown, Holl receive offers; Bibeau, Griffith let go (MLHS)
After signing his entry-level contract in the wake of those performances, Bibeau’s rookie season in the AHL was a reasonably promising one with a .913 save percentage and a 15-10-5 record. Unfortunately, his numbers have only declined from there in the subsequent two seasons with a .909 followed by a .894 in 2016-17. With his numbers trending in the wrong direction — and particularly with the way he fell out of favour down the stretch of 2016-17 — this became something of an inevitability. The Marlies were never going to carry three goaltenders on NHL contracts in 2017-18.

2017 Draft Notebook: Trends, analysis & thoughts on the Leafs’ strategy (MLHS)
One of the biggest assets the Leafs have at their disposal is a massive budget for player development. They have a huge development staff, their AHL team has NHL-quality facilities, and everything happens right in the city for them to keep an eye. These are advantages every other team in the league would kill for. I think the Leafs are very confident in their resources and ability to develop players in their system. That isn’t the only reason they drafted Rasananen – he was productive and successful last season – but when they get a player that projects well, they’re confident they can develop from there.

[Paywall] The Leafs missed out on Hamonic. What do they do now? (The Athletic)
There has been a ton of talk about James van Riemsdyk being the centrepiece of a potential deal. Too much, in my mind. While he may have been part of preliminary discussions with the Islanders, I do not get the feeling Toronto is anxious to move him. I also do not believe that this ever got to the stage where JVR could have nixed a deal (through his 10-team no-trade clause) — despite that being rumoured all weekend in Chicago.