Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: Canadian Press

In today’s Leafs Links, Auston Matthews joins the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, Elliotte Friedman reports the Leafs might revisit their interest in Joe Thornton this offseason, Chris Johnston provides a timeline on Morgan Rielly’s return from injury, and Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun provide insight on the offers for Tyson Barrie at the trade deadline.

McKenzie: Offers were not commensurate with market value on Barrie (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie reports the Leafs pulled back on interest in Zach Bogosian and never received an offer “commensurate with market value” for Barrie at the deadline.

They made a decision after three of the four games before the deadline were so bad to not go down that road with Zach Bogosian. They entertained offers on Tyson Barrie but they never got an offer they thought was commensurate with market value for Barrie. It wasn’t a firesale. They weren’t trying to give Tyson Barrie away. They were thinking if they could get a first-round pick and a really good prospect, they would have seriously considered that. It never got to that point and the offers they got were not commensurate with market value, so they decided to hold onto him. With what happened with Jake Muzzin, it’s just as well.

Johnston on timeline for Rielly, Thornton as an offseason option (Sportsnet)
Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour to discuss the possibility of the Leafs pursuing Joe Thornton in the offseason, the loss of Jake Muzzin, and whether the team could trade for or sign defense help for the remainder of the regular season.

On the Leafs‘ possible interest in Thornton in the offseason:

I still think it is a little bit hypothetical about whether it will happen. Clearly, he wanted to join a good team at the deadline. I don’t know if Toronto was necessarily a place he wanted to come. I think his wishlist was teams with a better chance to win right now — Boston, Colorado, some of those types of teams. But there is no reason to think it wouldn’t happen, especially if he is willing to take a small contract similar to Jason Spezza last year. I think the Leafs will be looking for players to do that to fill in around the margins. Maybe it will make sense for him to come to Toronto, but I also think if some other teams are interested, he might have a better chance of winning somewhere else.

On the timeline for a return for Ceci and Rielly:

Sheldon Keefe yesterday said weeks, plural. This is far from imminent. You’re looking at probably another 10 games without those guys, give or take. As it gets closer, maybe there is a way they can speed something up or have them come back prematurely or a little bit prematurely given what is at stake in the games. Realistically, it is going to be half of the remaining games without three of the top six defensemen and potentially even a little bit longer than that.

On whether the team could add a D to their non-playoff roster to help out the remainder of the regular season:

There is a bylaw in the rules that if you are on one team’s reserved list at the trade deadline, you can’t switch reserve lists after the trade deadline and play for that team. All the Leafs could really do is go out and sign a free agent. That would just be for the rest of the regular season.

31 Thoughts: Leafs might pursue Thornton in offseason (Sportsnet)
Elliotte Friedman reports that the Maple Leafs had an interest in Joe Thornton but pulled back after a tough week before the deadline, and they might revisit the possibility in the offseason. He also reports the Maple Leafs stuck to a high asking price on Tyson Barrie on deadline day and it was never met (they were looking for a Kevin Shattenkirk-esque return, not a third-rounder.) He also mentions Dubas made a last-minute effort to pick up some forward depth by sending a memo out to GMs 45 minutes before the deadline.

I can’t confirm this, but I believe the Maple Leafs considered adding [Thornton] now. Two things stopped it: 1) their decision not to make short-term fixes after the Carolina loss, and 2) are they really a legit contender if they have to go through Boston or Tampa Bay or both? When GM Kyle Dubas said he wanted to see how his group would respond to its tough stretch, he meant it. Thornton would have eased the tension right now, but the organization wants to see how everyone top to bottom reacts and performs. Next season is a different story.

Burke on Leafs’ blue line injuries & depth, why Joe Thornton didn’t move (SN590)
Brian Burke discussed the loss of Jake Muzzin to injury, the Leafs’ decision not to move Tyson Barrie, and why Joe Thornton didn’t move on deadline day.

People are talking about how important Muzzin is but no one gives Kyle credit for the trade. This was a really important trade for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a really serious injury at a really bad time. You look at the guys that are out — Boeser and Markstrom in Vancouver, Giordano in Calgary — and everyone is missing key players. The Leafs’ forward group is relatively healthy. It is not good, but that is part of what you do as a GM. You’ve got to have enough depth to get through injuries. Three of their six D — no one has got it worse than the Leafs, but they’ve got a healthy forward group.

On the team’s decision to hang onto Tyson Barrie:

You’ve got to set your prices internally. You can’t go into trade deadline and say, “Let’s see what is out there.” You are not fishing. You’re hunting. You set your prices internally.

My point with [hanging onto Cammalleri and losing him as UFA in Calgary] is that the Flames don’t make bad deals. We rather make no deal than a bad deal. The next year at the deadline, [Brad Treliving] was able to get a second and a third for Curtis Glencross because teams knew we were not giving these guys away and we can’t wait and think the price will go down.

I think it is really important, and I think that is what Kyle did. He said, “I don’t like the prices I’m getting, and I am not making a bad deal.” I applaud that.

On Joe Thornton not moving on deadline day:

Before everyone says, “Poor Joe,” my understanding of what happened — and I think I’ve got this right… I haven’t talked to Doug Wilson and I haven’t talked to Jumbo, but I think I have this right from people who were involved — they went to him and said, “Here is a list of teams, put your first destination, second destination and third destination.” I am sure he put St. Louis, Washington — the teams he thought would be contenders and have a good shot to get him a Cup. I’m told those teams were not the teams that were expressed interest in Joe Thornton.

Do you think Tampa has cap space or a positional need for Joe Thornton right now? I don’t think so. I love Joe, but I don’t think so. My understanding is he asked for teams A, B and C, but teams D, E, and F approached and made offers. If the teams he wanted to go to didn’t have interest in him, take your lumps. It’s tough, but that is the way it is.

LeBrun: Leafs never got serious on Barrie trade negotiations (TSN1050)
Pierre LeBrun joined Leafs Lunch to discuss the Leafs’ decision to hold onto Tyson Barrie at the deadline.

I don’t get the sense he was close. Certainly, there were discussions with Vancouver, with Calgary, with Vegas. But I didn’t get the sense they got to a serious level with any of them, in my opinion. I think a lot of that is that the Leafs had a high price in mind. The Leafs were telling teams they wanted a Kevin Shattenkirk-like return. On top of that, whether it would be directly in a Barrie deal or in a separate deal, they weren’t going to trade Barrie unless they got a right-shot defenseman to play in their group for the rest of the year at the very least, which is why we heard Troy Stetcher’s name out there. At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone came anywhere near close to paying that type of price.

Auston Matthews appears on Spittin’ Chiclets (Barstool)
A guest on Spittin’ Chiclets over the All-Star weekend last month, Auston Matthews’ episode was released yesterday.

On the way the team is playing after the coaching change:

I think we are playing a little bit different now. I think it suits my game a little bit better and a lot of the guys we have on the team a little bit better. I think that change has been good for a lot of us.

On William Nylander missing training camp last season:

You should’ve seen him when he came in last year after six months of just practicing and working out. Just working out. He was an absolute mountain. He was so big. He was shredded. It was too big, yeah. You’re working out for six or seven months and you’re not playing games. You kind of lose weight playing, right? You’re skating every night. You lose a couple of pounds sweating a bunch. He came in so big and I was like, “My goodness, this guy is an animal.”

On how Tyson Barrie dealt with his early struggles:

He’s kind of the type of guy who is so easygoing. Nothing really bothers him. He definitely went through a couple of tough weeks, especially early on. It wasn’t like I had to talk him off the ledge. He was frustrated. It really turned around for him right away [after the coaching change]. He scored, which was awesome, in Arizona. His parents have a house there and live there. His thing was — we played Colorado next — he was like, “I can’t go into Colorado with zero goals. That is just embarrassing.”

On the new routine under Sheldon Keefe of playing music at practices:

I think that is awesome, especially on a day where you just played the night before and the practice isn’t going to be super hard — just kind of getting out there and moving around. It is awesome. I love it.

On the sports psychologists on staff with the Leafs:

We have people who work for the Leafs that are sports pyschs that we talk to. They’re always around. It is really no pressure or anything. I was laughing because Tyson has so many stories about MacKinnon just being an absolute snap show. He told me a while ago he started working with someone so he could relax a little bit. Tyson has some great stories of him just absolutely snapping.

On what Morgan Rielly is like off the ice:

He is great. I haven’t really spent any time with him this year. He has got a girlfriend now. I never see him. I was pretty upset with him for a while and would chirp him. He kind of kept it quiet. He never came out and said it. I got kind of rattled at him and was kind of pissed off, and then I met her and she was an absolute sweetheart. I was like, “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt now. She’s cool.”

I was really pissed because me and him would go to the Raptors game every year when Russell Westbrook would come. We would go and sit courtside. Last three years, we would always go to the game together. We’d sit and have a good time; get there early and watch warmups. This year he didn’t go with me because his girlfriend was in town. That is where it really felt off for me and I was really pissed.

And then I actually spoke with her and was like, “I can’t believe you did this. This is tradition. You don’t mess with tradition.” She was like, “I told Morgan he should go. I encouraged him to go. He said no.”