Toronto Maple Leafs' Frederik Andersen and Tyson Barrie
Photo: Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

On a busy day in the NHL trade market, Darren Dreger, Elliotte Friedman, and Chris Johnston provide the latest on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ outlook for the Feb. 24 deadline in today’s Leafs Links.

Leafs Links

Friedman on shopping Tyson Barrie: “If they get a good enough offer, they might consider it” (Sportsnet)
Between periods of the Leafs vs. Penguins game on Tuesday night, Brian Burke and Elliotte Friedman discussed the possibility of Tyson Barrie being moved by Kyle Dubas before the trade deadline.

Elliotte Friedman on Barrie:

Brian [Burke] said in the pregame it’s likely the Leafs keep and add. I agree with that, but when you take a look at what some of these UFA defensemen are going for, and depending on where the Leafs think they are, I think they are going to be at least asked about him.

Brian Burke on the likelihood of Barrie moving:

Toronto has let guys go before. They let free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, [Jake Gardiner] go. They kept them as rentals and then when their contracts expired, they let them go. There is no reason they wouldn’t do the same thing with Barrie. But I think Elliotte is right — if they get a good enough offer, they might consider it.

Friedman on whether Dubas will be selling or buying:

One of the things I think Toronto has been doing is looking at multiple parts. “If we add this, do we have to move something out?” I don’t necessarily think they do anything. They are going to extend Muzzin. That is basically a done deal, but I think they have multiple balls in the air and they’re just going to have to figure it out.

Dreger: Jake Muzzin contract in place for four years, just over $5.5 million (TSN)
Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that the Jake Muzzin contract is all but done at around four years, ~$5.5 million AAV.

I believe there is an agreement in place with Jake Muzzin to extend with the Toronto Maple Leafs — four years at just over $5.5 million. I believe it is a heavily front-loaded contract extension for Jake Muzzin. It will have a variety of forms of trade protection. Because of the tagging issues and the salary cap implications the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to wrestle with, I don’t believe the Maple Leafs are going to announce anything until perhaps later this month or early in March.

Johnston on Toronto Maple Leafs’ deadline plans (Sportsnet 590)
Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour to discuss the Leafs’ outlook at the trade deadline.

Johnston on whether the Leafs will sell if they struggle in the final games before the deadline:

I don’t think if they lose every game between now and the deadline that they’re going to sell, but certainly, with where they are at injuries wise, I do think it will dictate how aggressive they get and what they do. In fact, with a few players now injured potentially for the reason, it probably creates a window for them to go out into the rental market, which is something I think in theory they want to do, but just with way everything is unfolding, they find themselves with a fair bit of cap space between now and the end of the season. There might be some way they can get better by using that.

Johnston on what assets the Leafs have to offer if they’re going to buy at the deadline:

Draft picks is the only obvious way they can go that way. They do have those — obviously, they don’t have their first this year but they have other ones they would probably be willing to part with. In the minors, they don’t have much, though. This is a team that has graduated a ton of players up to the Maple Leafs in the last few years. They’re at a point where I don’t think they are moving Nick Robertson, for example. I don’t think that makes much sense for where they’re at. They don’t have a ton of pieces, so it does point us back to Kasperi Kapanen if they are making a deal of significance. If it is not something quite as impactful, they can probably get that done with draft picks.

Johnston on the type of deal that would make the Leafs consider trading Kasperi Kapanen:

I think it would have to be for a defenseman they really like and is signed — someone that gives them stability for more than just the next seven weeks of the season. If that player was out there — and I am not sure he is, to be honest — I think they would consider that trade. It’s not as though they want to move Kasperi Kapanen. I just think that they are in a spot where he is a pretty attractive trade piece and he might be something they can use to solve another issue and get by without him. I think they will be equally as happy if there isn’t a trade there and he is still playing for the team because I do know they like him and believe in him.

Johnston on which defensemen with term the Leafs might be pursuing:

I do think they have inquired about Adam Larsson of Edmonton. That is not to say that they targeted him. What they have done is looked at every possible potential solution to their problem here and identified players that shoot right and have term left on their deals and are of the right age that they can be part of what the group is now. They’ve at least made the calls to see what is available. That is why I am a little skeptical this will even happen because I just don’t see an obvious fit. I do think that Dumba could be added from Minnesota, but the price Minnesota wants is much more than Kasperi Kapanen. The Leafs might not have the will to pay what the Wild would like to get for that particular player.

Johnston on whether it is a question of selling or just “levels of buying aggression” going into the deadline:

I think it’s level of aggression. Certainly, if someone more gets injured, it might change the plans they had this morning. I would be surprised if we saw them revert to selling mode… That was certainly on the table at one point in December, but I still think this team wants to try to qualify for the playoffs and hope some of those injured bodies come back healthy, and maybe they can take a run.

McKenzie: Leafs don’t have much currency they’re willing to lose in a trade (TSN)
Bob McKenzie joined Leafs Lunch to discuss Kyle Dubas’ options at the trade deadline.

Kyle Dubas continues to look for defensemen. He’d prefer one with term, but I expect as they get closer to the deadline, if they have to go the rental route…

Let’s also be brutally honest: In terms of currency to make trades, the Leafs don’t have a lot. Not really. There is not anything substantial on the Toronto Marlies right now that teams would be saying they want a piece of. Brooks, Bracco, or any of these guys — they’re not big trade chips for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They don’t want to trade Sandin. They don’t want to trade Liljegren. They don’t want to trade Robinson, who is lights out in Peterborough this year. They haven’t had a first-round pick last year or this year. They don’t want to trade a first-round pick, but they might be forced to this time around. They’re not really well-positioned… They know that if they’re going to get a defenseman with term, they’ll probably have to trade Kapanen, and it’s not an ideal time to trade Kapanen because Andreas Johnsson is injured… Trevor Moore is gone now.

The reality is they are trying very hard to find a defenseman with term. Failing that, they may look at the rental market, but it’s all set against the backdrop of the limitations of what they’re prepared to give up.

Leafs Notebook: The Muzzin contract extension and trade deadline plans (MLHS)
Anthony Petrielli has a jam-packed notebook for us this week, including his thoughts on the reported Jake Muzzin contract.

Anything over that $5.5 million and it becomes dicey, but at that price point, it’s at least understandable why the Leafs would sign it. In a perfect world, the team isn’t in a situation where it feels its hands are tied — and perhaps the Leafs aren’t — but unless they are willing to part with a top-line forward to acquire a defenseman, signing Muzzin at least keeps their defense moving forward for next season and probably the one after that. It’s the two “out” years that are worrisome.