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In the draft day edition of Leafs Links, the rumour mill is buzzing on Kasperi Kapanen and Connor Brown’s availability and the Leafs’ search for a defenseman, while Kyle Dubas suggests Patrick Marleau could stick around in Toronto for 2019-20.

Chris Johnston: Kasperi Kapanen available for a defenseman (Fan 650)
CJ joined the Fan 650 in Vancouver to discuss trade talks Kyle Dubas is involved with and how far apart the Leafs and Marner still are in contract talks on the day of the draft.

On the possibility of Kasperi Kapanen moving as a sweetener or to acquire a defenseman:

I think the Rubix cube that Kyle Dubas is kind of dealing with here is that he has to cut money, number one, and he wants to improve his own blue line. When we talk about the assets he might sell, and right now it’s clear Kasperi Kapanen is a player they are willing to part with, is he doing it as part of cutting the money — i.e. do you attach him to Patrick Marleau or Nikita Zaisev and have one of those contracts off the books — or is it just purely to get a defenseman?

My understanding is that the Leafs have explored both markets. Do we use him as a sweetener to lower our cap position? If we trade him to the Carolina Hurricanes, can we get a Brett Pesce back? If we talk to PIttsburgh, is there a fit maybe there with Kris Letang? Probably not because those are two teams with cap issues.

I think they’re kind of working through that process, but the trouble the Leafs have is that they have to sign Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen plus Mitch Marner’s much-discussed contract. They’re doing so much business and they’re doing it on parallel tracks. I don’t know if they’ve concluded it has to be a defenseman, but more than likely, we are talking about using Kasperi Kapanen to get a defenseman back. The Leafs are a team that badly needs some depth in that position.

On whether Mitch Marner will visit with other teams in the negotiating period if a deal still isn’t done:

I am not so certain he is going to pursue that at this point because that’s a shot across the bow and might not help him on the PR front with the fan base. But the rubber is hitting the road here and things are getting real. I don’t get the sense they’re that close on anything. It doesn’t seem as though there is that much discussion going on. I know Darren Ferris’ agent is here and there are plans to meet with the Leafs. Dialogue hasn’t been the issue; it’s been action and sort of solving the divide here.

I still think Mitch Marner is ultimately a Maple Leaf. It is probably going to come at a pricetag beyond what the team wants to pay that is going to have repercussions on other parts of the roster, but you’ve got to pay your stars, man. You’d rather have a star overpaid than have not good enough players and be overpaying third liners.

Insider Trading: Leafs in a ton of trade talk leading up to the draft (TSN)
Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun give their latest on what’s happening with a busy management group in Toronto this weekend.

LeBrun on discussions between the Hurricanes and Leafs on a possible deal involving Kapanen and Brett Pesce:

The Leafs have to clear cap space as the whole world knows and the discussions are starting to get more serious at draft weekend. One team that has had a recent conversation with Toronto is Carolina. What was being proposed at the time is Kasperi Kapanen and Connor Brown in a package that would involve Brett Pesce. The Hurricanes don’t want to move Brett Pesce right now. They are trying to sign Justin Faulk. I think they want to hold on to Pesce, so that is perhaps a conversation to be continued, but I think it tells you the fact that Kapanen was in that conversation… He is an unsigned RFA. Those are some of the things Toronto is looking at right now.

Dreger on the threat of an offer sheet:

It should shock no one that the Toronto Maple Leafs are an offer sheet target. Maybe Kasperi Kapanen is as juicy of a target as any on the Maple Leafs roster. The Maple Leafs have to be aware of that as they face the cap crunch. It was interesting to hear Kyle Dubas talk about that threat specific to Mitch Marner because that has been the narrative all along. He said maybe we take the four first round picks and maybe we don’t. Perhaps there is a message sent there to the Marner camp. Obviously, Darren Ferris, who represents Mitch Marner, is hoping to meet wth Kyle Dubas in the next couple of days.

McKenzie on Dubas’ comment that there is a good chance Marleau stays in Toronto for 2019-20:

Kyle Dubas said there is a real good chance Patrick Marleau will be on the roster at the beginning of next season, which is kind of funny because Patrick Marleau doesn’t really want to be on the Leafs roster. He wants to finish his career in San Jose. Quite frankly, the Leafs would want Patrick Marleau not to be on the roster because they need to free up the cap space that his $6.25 million or thereabouts is eating up. The problem is it’s a difficult deal to facilitate.

There was a thought that maybe the Leafs could trade Patrick Marleau to a third team that could buy him out and Patrick Marleau could then sign a one-year, low-value contract with the San Jose Sharks, the Leafs could free up some cap space, and the team that buys him out would get some sort of sweetener of some form of either dumping something to the Leafs or getting a player or prospect or something along the way. But is so hard to facilitate and right now the party line is Marleau is coming back. We’ll see about that.

McKenzie on Callahan placed on LTIR and rumours surrounding Leafs (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie rounded up the latest with the Leafs ahead of draft weekend on Overdrive.

Pierre is reporting that the Leafs and Carolina are at it again talking about Brett Presce, but Carolina has some other irons in the fire as well. Pierre suggested that Connor Brown and Kapanen might be the assets the Leafs would send to get a guy like Pesce. I think it is pretty clear Connor Brown is going to be going somewhere strictly because of the financial crunch — no doubt about that.

As for Kapanen, they’ve got to get a really good defenseman coming back, but I think they’re open to the idea of trading Kapanen if they can get that good defenseman coming back.

Dregs has talked about that while the Zaitsev talks continue, Kadri’s name is still out there a little bit. They’re going to need a center if they’re going to trade Kadri. The likelihood of getting a center in exchange of a center — I’d be really surprised if that were to happen.

The third piece of the puzzle is Patrick Marleau. He wants to go to San Jose, but the only way he can get there is if the Leafs trade him to a third team who buys him out and he signs a one-year low-level contract to finish his career there. In order to do that, the Leafs have to do Marleau a favour and some other team will have to do the Leafs a favour. If they’re not going to do them a favour, a team like Arizona who was maybe in the mode to acquire Marleau only to buy him out, what do they want to shift back to Toronto make them eat, or what would they have expected from Toronto to sweeten it? And if it gets to that point, the Leafs are like, “Well, we want the cap space, but we are not going to go crazy here.”

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