The latest Toronto Maple Leafs scuttlebutt as we close in on three hours until the trade deadline.
Latest on the Connor Brown rumours
Per Elliotte Friedman this morning on the Jeff Blair Show:
Most likely, I don’t expect anything huge, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re trying. If you were to tell me they did something big, I wouldn’t be shocked because I think they’re in on it looking for things. I do think that they have kind of been asked a bit about Brown. I think there are a couple of other teams who look at him and say, “He could probably play higher in our lineup than he does in yours. What would you be willing to do there?” The thing is, I think Toronto does value him as part of their organization, as part of their group. He is a hard-working guy. He is popular with the team. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to do anything like that for a rental. But I think that might be one of the bigger decisions they have to make today.
On a possibly-but-not-necessarily-related note, Trevor Moore has been recalled for tonight’s game vs. Buffalo:
TOR will call up Trevor Moore for tonight's game vs BUF.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 25, 2019
Friedman: “Quietly, they are trying to take some bigger swings today”
Friedman on whether Dubas views this as a “development” year or an all-in year:
I think he views it as both. I think they want to contend this year. I think they want to go for it this year rather than contend. I think they know that they’ve got one year they’ve really got to worry about and that’s next season. They know that they are going to have to make some painful decisions next year depending on what happens and what decisions may be made for them. I don’t look at it as, “Boy, if we don’t get out of the first round, that’s okay because we are developing.” They will be hugely disappointed if they lose again to Boston.
I see this is as a go-for-it year. As good as Tampa is and as good as everyone else is, you know that next year you are going to have some issues that you’re going to have to deal with. That’s why I think, quietly, they are trying to take some bigger swings today.
Johnston: “There are people out there that believe they are having serious, serious discussions on a real hockey trade [for a right-handed D] — a trade where they are rearranging the balance of their team”
Chris Johnston teases a bit of a bomb on the Jeff Blair Show:
Publicly, and even a little bit privately, the Leafs have given everyone the impression they are going to sit this one out; that the Jake Muzzin deal was the extent of what they were going to do. I’ve had a few other people externally from other teams suggest that they believe the Leafs are working on something big and that they are in the market, maybe finally once and for all, to end several years of talk radio discussion to get that right-shot defenseman that can really round out their group back there. Obviously, if they do that, we are talking about a significant player or two being taken off the roster to make that sort of thing happen.
On one hand, I don’t see the Leafs in the rental market. A lot of the names we are going to talk about this afternoon — the Micheal Ferlands, Wayne Simmonds, go down the list — have one thing in common: They are all going to be free agents this summer. I really don’t think the Leafs are going to get into that market. But there are people out there that believe they are having serious, serious discussions on a real hockey trade — a trade where they are rearranging the balance of their team. That would probably be trading a forward, it could be trading Jake Gardiner — who is on an expiring contract — and it could be dipping into their prospect pool to bring in a significant player.
If you are watching the coverage on Sportsnet and TSN, you are not getting a lot of that talk, but that is what I am hearing: That the Leafs are looking to really do not a traditional deadline trade. Much like the Bruins, they are looking at their window to win is pretty immediate. We are not talking about five years down the road for this team. It is here and it is now. I think they feel they have to try to do something big.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Leafs did [something big] now. Kyle Dubas has shown himself to have tremendous nerve with the way he handled it with William Nylander, whether it was right or wrong. He did what no GM has done before with a player of that calibre taking it right to December 1st deadline and landing John Tavares. This is a new GM in his age and is new in his thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a splash today.
Johnston: “I could see Jake being moved”
More from Johnston on what a potential hockey trade might look like and what pieces might be involved:
Let’s go down their left side. They have Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, and Travis Dermott. That is without Jake Gardiner. They feel really good about Calle Rosen who is a left-shot as a depth option for the Marlies. They can subtract someone from that left group if they are adding to a part where they are weaker.
As much as there is mutual will from the team and the player to trade to do something, I just don’t think it is going to be possible to keep Gardiner after the season. It is not a matter of they have to trade him today, but if it helps get a deal done, it does make some sense for them.
I think Jake Gardiner has kind of been aware of that. He’s been a bit emotional the past week or two. I think part of it is left over from the booing he dealt with here on home ice. He’s just sort of maybe understanding, looking around and looking at the leaves, that it’s becoming maybe Fall for him. He has been here for a long, long time and seen the team get to this point. Much like Tyler Bozak and JVR, he is probably going to be pushed aside before the team ultimately wins its Stanley Cup.
… Even if a Connor Brown ends up being moved by the Leafs, it’s not exactly the same thing as Jake Gardiner, but he was a part of the first wave of the Leafs really turning things over, was a part of some good Marlies team, was held up as a good example of work ethic and commitment and doing the right things, along with a guy like Zach Hyman. But you get to a point where you’re adding premiere guys like John Tavares and you’re seeing Matthews, Nylander and Marner come in and there is just not room for everybody.
Check back here for more updates throughout the day. It could be a fun one. Or not.