Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston discuss the heating up of the trade market and what the Toronto Maple Leafs might be looking to do in the New Year’s Eve edition of Leafs Links.

Leafs Links

Chris Johnston on the availability of Kapanen, Johnsson (Sportsnet 650)
CJ joined Reach Deep on Sportsnet 650 to discuss trade rumours around the NHL, including the availability of Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson in Toronto.

I don’t think it is something that the organization wants to do, but it can’t be ruled out in the same breath. I don’t get any sense at all that they are shopping those players.

With Kapanen specifically, because he is such a great skater and has some pretty high-end tools and is now signed so the team would know what they are going to have to pay him for the next three years, I think there is some appeal to him. I think that there is an argument to be made from the Leafs’ end, because he is essentially a third liner on the Leafs with the way their slotting works out, that he might be used in a hockey trade to get a defenseman. That’s still an area of weakness for Toronto and somewhere that they would like to upgrade.

I just think they probably aren’t going to go down that road unless maybe a player that I am not anticipating at this point in time comes available and it is a deal that really opens your eyes. It’s certainly not something from a Toronto perspective that they’re looking to do. They extended both those guys last July with the idea they would be a part of the secondary pieces of the core here for the next three or four years as they try to take a few swings at making a run at the Stanley Cup.

I don’t think they’d give up those players easily, but if you dangle the right defenseman in front of them, it might be a deal that would be too good to refuse. I don’t think it’s very likely they’re moved, but never say never, especially if you have an asset that fills a need for the Leafs.

Elliotte Friedman on possible player movement in Toronto (Sportsnet 590)
Friedge joined Hockey Central to discuss the latest news and scuttlebutt from around the league, including the reports that three players have been made available by the Leafs.

There is no question that they are looking around. They are looking to shuffle some of their pieces — no question about it. They’ve made it be known that three of their players — one at the NHL level and two at the AHL level — are available.

The one at the NHL level is Dmytro Timashov. I think they’re looking to see what else is out there — maybe a bigger role. At the AHL level, it’s Ben Harpur, who isn’t playing too much for the Toronto Marlies and wants to see if there is another opportunity. The most interesting one, I think, is Jeremy Bracco.

Bracco is a guy who is a bit of a late bloomer; he wasn’t always respected in terms of his talent at the OHL level and in terms of the way NHL teams saw him, but he has really come on. He was second in AHL scoring last year and fourth in assists this year. I think he kind of realizes that he is blocked by some pretty good players in the NHL and he wants to see what is out there for him — if there is interest.

I’ve heard that they’ve had calls about him before and therefore they’re kind of putting him out there to see who else might be interested. The thing I am most curious about in this is — is this them looking to move Bracco for something, or is this something that could be part of a bigger deal? I don’t know the answer to that, but a couple of comments I’ve received after make me wonder that.

I wouldn’t want to say that for sure, but since I put that out there on Saturday night, I’ve had some people wonder about that. If there is interest in Bracco — and I believe there has been some, and I believe the asking price from the Leafs has been high — then I wonder if it is part of something bigger.

31 Thoughts: NHL trade market beginning to take shape (Sportsnet)
Friedge’s NYE 31 thoughts discussed the Jeremy Bracco situation further.

His path to the Maple Leafs is blocked by some elite, elite skill and he wants to see if there’s a better opportunity somewhere else. Toronto is willing to accommodate, but have not been shy in their asks, apparently. I’m curious to see what the market is. I’m also curious to see if this could be part of a bigger deal. Ben Harpur and Dmytro Timashov have also asked Toronto to see what’s out there for them.

The All-Decade Leafs team, Injury Bug Strikes, Shopping Jeremy Bracco (MLHS)
Anthony Petrielli gives us his all-decade Leafs team and discusses the challenges ahead with the losses of Jake Muzzin and Ilya Mikheyev to injury.

What we are seeing now is an extended look at Matthews and Marner togehter, and they are starting to dominate. Against the Rangers, in particular, they had a number of dominant shifts cycling it in the offensive zone and creating sustained pressure. Against Carolina, Matthews, of course, had the ridiculous 360 pass and he had another like that in New Jersey on a breakout. How can you expect those plays to magically happen if they are together for the first time in a random period and are ice cold to each other as linemates? The chemistry is forming and it is paying dividends.

Leafs sign Justin Holl to three-year, $2 million AAV contract extension (MLHS)
Alec breaks down today’s Justin Holl contract extension.

Holl averaged just 13 minutes of ice time in his first 10 games of the season but saw that steadily climb to 16+ minutes in his next 10. In the 17 games since the coaching change, Holl’s average time on ice has grown to 18:46; he’s a plus-four with four points in that time while skating many of his shifts against top competition at 5v5. On his pairing with Muzzin, Holl has averaged over 54% of the shot attempts and 54% of the expected Goals For.

Adam Brooks still pinching himself after NHL debut with Leafs (Toronto Sun)
Brooks’ NHL debut against the New York Rangers on Saturday was the culmination of a long path traveled.

“It still feels kind of crazy. When you’re a kid this is what you always dream of. All of the effort you put in over the years and all the efforts your family and friends put forward in order for you to get here finally come full circle.”

Rasmus Sandin exits Sweden’s win early after taking a slash (TSN)
Rasmus Sandin left Tuesday’s WJC game against the Slovakians after taking a slash to the arm.