Toronto Maple Leafs, Jake Muzzin
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

In the Friday edition of Leafs Links, the insiders provide the latest on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ mindset heading into the deadline, their search for long-term right defense help, a potential Jake Muzzin contract extension, and the latest from around the league.

Leafs Links

Friedman on the Leafs’ defense search, Kreider, DeMelo, Anderson (WGR550)
Elliotte Friedman joined The Instigators to discuss the latest with the Leafs‘ defense search, Chris Kreider, Dylan DeMelo, Sami Vatanen, and Josh Anderson.

Everybody who is available that Toronto could get — preferably with term — they’ve looked at. I think what they were waiting to see how good they were after the All-Star break. They just had two real good games back-to-back — they beat Nashville and Dallas and played pretty well on the road in winning those two games. If they play like that, I could see them playing a right-shot D or a D who can play the right side for sure.

On the latest with Chris Kreider:

The guys at All-Star were telling me they think Kreider wants to say. They think he likes being a Ranger. Players sometimes have different insights than everyone else. They think he wants to be a Ranger. I think the Rangers will make a pitch to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes in around five-to-six years somewhere around $6.5-7 million. I think it will be interesting to see what Kreider and his representative says to that.

The toughest thing is — and someone said this yesterday — you putting that out there in the blog probably gets the Rangers better offers. I think that is going to be the question: Do the Rangers get an offer they can’t say no to? And then there is the old question of whether you can trade him and try to get him back in the offseason. It doesn’t happen very often, but it can. I think the biggest question is: Are the Leafs going to get the Godfather offer they can’t refuse?

On the rental market at the deadline:

I know people don’t like the rental market this year — especially with Taylor Hall off the board. I think Kreider is probably the other guy right now who has some excitement, but the number-one D is probably Sami Vatanen from New Jersey. There is an acceptance that the guy can really score, but is he a difference maker? I have had more people tell me they like Dylan DeMelo as a depth player than just about anybody else.

I don’t think there is a lot. Tyler Toffoli — his trade value has really gotten low. I don’t think there is a lot of excitement in these guys who are rentals. We’ll see where the guys with term end up going.

On Josh Anderson’s availability:

Most likely, if Josh Anderson gets moved, it happens around the draft. If you’re Columbus and you’re battling to make the playoffs, you’ve got to give me a pretty good deal to get Josh Anderson.

McKenzie on the Leafs’ mindset ahead of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline (TSN1050)
Bobby Mac joined TSN Overdrive to discuss the Leafs’ mindset ahead of the 2020 trade deadline.

He himself said publicly that he needs to see a sign, but as I’ve said before, adding a right-shot defenseman for the long-term is the plan regardless of what happens. If they don’t do it by the deadline, they’re going to do it in the summer. Where it would be a bit different is if they keep winning and put themselves in a better spot, then the backup goaltender, getting a depth forward, giving up some more picks or prospects that are not named Sandin or Liljegren or Nick Robertson becomes more of a reality. If they lose a bunch of games, who knows? I don’t want to be radio myself here, but if you keep losing for a while and suddenly you’re 10-12 points out, do you look at trading at Barrie? I think you have to. You have to deal with the reality of the situation. But the fact is that hasn’t happened.

As I said, it needs to be a really pronounced… Going into this week, I said the only way I could see the Leafs being sellers at the deadline is if they really, really soiled the sheets here for 2-3 weeks and are literally 10-12-14 points out. I can’t imagine that would happen. Even if they were just fair to middling — if they’re six points out — they’re not selling.

Dreger discusses which defenceman would be a fit for Maple Leafs (TSN1050)
Darren Dreger joined First Up to discuss the latest on the defensemen trade market, including the availability of Josh Manson in Anaheim.

I’m not saying it can’t happen, but the sense I get from Anaheim people is that they’re not actively trying to move Josh. If Josh Manson is getting traded, that means a team stepped up and stepped up in a big way. That doesn’t mean Kasperi Kapanen. That might mean Kapanen plus plus. Manson would be a terrific add — there is no question about that. If nothing else, it just kind of seasons the speculation because we’ve talked enough about Matt Dumba.

On contract negotiations with Jake Muzzin:

We know he wants to stay in Toronto and Toronto wants to keep him and extend him. They’re in the process right now. I expect Joe Resnick, who represents Jake Muzzin, to meet with Maple Leafs management if not today then no later than tomorrow. This is just a step in the negotiations. They’ve talked about the parameters and neither side is willing to divulge that just yet. As an educated guess, if I am Jake Muzzin, it has got to be a minimum of four years, doesn’t it? And maybe $5 million. That’s where you’ve got to wonder where the Leafs’ comfort level is. I feel like anywhere in the mid to high fives would be terrific value from Muzzin’s perspective, and that might be fair market value from the Maple Leafs’ position as well. They’ve talked about the basic parameters, but they haven’t started to drill down on this thing. When you really drill down, you’re talking about trade protection, expansion draft protection, and all of those other things as well.

Johnston: Matthews’ hot streak, Muzzin contract extension (Sportsnet 960)
CJ joined Sportsnet 960 to discuss Matthews’ incredible goal-scoring form and the mutual interest in a Jake Muzzin contract extension.

He does something they don’t really have enough of. He’s the defensive conscience of the team. To my eyes, I think you can make a case he is their best defenseman — certainly, their truest defenseman in terms of doing things to break up the cycle in the defensive zone. He uses his body to block shots. He’s more of a traditional idea of what a team should be. That is the area of the team that has the most holes or the most questions.

He is also a steadying presence on what is still a pretty young team. He is one of the few guys with a three at the start of his name. He has a Stanley Cup ring — all of those types of things. What he does includes intangibles but also things that can be measured. He is a big part of the team. It was just past a year to the day that the trade happened with LA, and it has worked out well for both Leafs and Jake Muzzin.

I think there is pretty strong mutual interest to work out an extension that will keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent and keep him in Toronto. Even though he shoots with the wrong hand knowing the Leafs’ lack of right-handed options internally, I think it makes a lot of sense for him to stay in Toronto and for them to look to lock him up.

Analyzing Toronto Maple Leafs Defense Trade Options

Catch up on this excellent series by Bill Comeau: