In today’s Leafs Links, the insiders discuss the Leafs’ addition of new assistant coach Manny Malhotra, the Matt Dumba trade rumours, and the latest on the Alex Pietrangelo saga.

Leafs Links

Elliotte Friedman on Leafs’ hiring of Manny Malhotra (Sportsnet 590)
On Hockey Central, Friedman — who broke the news of the hiring just before Noon — provided his thoughts on the addition of Manny Malhotra to the Leafs‘ bench.

The thing about Malhotra… I remember I put together a piece a few months ago on the 2011 Canucks. One of the things that really stuck out for me was Alain Vigneault talking about the conference call where they, during the free-agent period, spoke to Malhotra about coming to Vancouver.

Malhotra was asking questions like, “Can these guys take honest feedback? Can these guys be spoken to honestly? Or are they guys who are not going to be able to handle the truth?”

Manny Malhotra is a blunt, driven guy who wants to be a head coach and believes in teaching and informing and creating structure — particularly around the faceoff circle — but also believes in doing it from an accountable way.

Also, I am sure there is some talk about the fact that he is younger. He has played more recently. He has played against some of these players. I am sure all of that was a factor. I don’t think Vancouver is really thrilled to lose him, but I know Toronto is thrilled to get him.

LeBrun on the hiring of Malhotra, market for Johnsson, Pietrangelo (TSN1050)
On Leafs Lunch, Pierre LeBrun provided his take on the Malhotra hire as well his latest feel for the Alex Pietrangelo negotiations and Matt Dumba trade market. Notably, LeBrun reported that he is hearing from other teams that Kyle Dubas is attempting to set the trade market for Andreas Johnsson.

A terrific human being. Cerebral guy. This is an excellent hire. Let’s also point out: Good on the Vancouver Canucks. Not every organization believes in this where you allow a guy to get a promotion like this with a rival organization. Manny Malhotra was an eye-in-the-sky coach with the Canucks and he is offered a spot on the bench with the Leafs. The Canucks did not stand in the way and allowed him to seek that out, so kudos to Travis Green, Jim Benning and Vancouver. There are teams that will say no.

Interesting process for the Leafs. I can’t tell you for sure everyone that Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe talked to. Earlier in the Spring, there were conversations with Rocky Thompson, who was the Vegas AHL coach in Chicago and is going to end up in San Jose on Bob Boughner’s staff. The Leafs, as everyone knows now, had conversations with Bruce Boudreau as late as last week.

That is a hire that everyone has to be comfortable with. If Bruce Boudreau comes to Toronto, the media is going to be clamoring for him every day because he is the greatest interview in the history of the game. Maybe that’s not a comfortable position for Sheldon Keefe. I don’t know. Not to mention the fact that Bruce Boudreau is a head coach.

We have seen it — Michel Therrien adjusted in Philadephia. Mike Yeo. Rick Bowness for years went from head coach to associate coach and now back to head coach. It’s not like Boudreau couldn’t do it, but maybe that wasn’t quite the right fit for the Leafs. I don’t know.

They end up with Manny Malhotra. It’s a terrific hire, I think.

LeBrun on whether Matt Dumba is of interest to Kyle Dubas and the Leafs:

I don’t know if the Leafs are coveting. I just know the Leafs know he is out there. There is also the Alex Pietrangelo situation the Leafs are monitoring because I do believe there is mutual interest there if he doesn’t re-sign in St. Louis — and that is a big if because I think the Blues are going to put their best foot forward here between now and October 9th.

There is still a reasonable chance he re-signs, but it has been a frustrating process so far for Alex Pietrangelo. I interviewed him last week for a piece, and it was clear in his voice that he probably feels he should’ve been signed by now as the captain of the team. That is a situation that bears monitoring.

If you’re the Leafs and you’re thinking about trading assets for Matt Dumba or signing Alex Pietrangelo without giving up assets, you’re going to want to go the Pietrangelo route — not just because Pietrangelo is the more established player, but you’re also not giving up assets.

The drawback is that you know Dumba signed for a couple more years at $6 million, which is more palatable than what Alex Pietrangelo is going to cost. You are talking at least $8 million a year for Pietrangelo, but it’s well worth it.

LeBrun on the logistics of the Leafs fitting in Pietrangelo’s potential cap hit:

… The idea of a Rielly-Pietrangelo top pairing is an unbelievable thought, but it’s incredibly difficult salary cap gymnastics. If the Leafs could even entertain Alex Pietrangelo, they would have to make some major moves to move more cap space out.

In talking to some teams over the last few days, I do believe the Leafs continue to seek out a market for Andreas Johnsson, but that is just $3.4 million. They’re going to need to do more than that.

Interesting time with the Leafs. I can’t tell you for sure whether they’ve talked to Minnesota about Matt Dumba… What we’re told is the asking price is a top-six center from Minnesota GM Bill Guerin. Sometimes asking prices and the end result are different and there are other ways to get deals done, so we will see where all of this goes.

Bill Guerin on Matt Dumba’s availability (31 Thoughts)
In this week’s 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman reported that multiple teams were pursuing Manny Malhotra for an AC position and also provides the latest on the Matt Dumba rumours.

“I know the business well enough from a player side, and I wouldn’t want to make an empty promise. I don’t have to rush. We can play all year with him. We like Matt Dumba. He’s a heck of a player. He’s a great kid. We’re very happy with him, and we think our top four will go up against anybody. I’m confident in that.”

Analyzing Leafs Trade Options: Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (MLHS)
Back in January, MLHS’ Bill Comeau put together a thorough breakdown of Matt Dumba’s strengths, weaknesses, and whether he is a fit for the Leafs’ blue line. The verdict was not convincing:

Matt Dumba fits the mold of an offensive defenseman with a great shot, but it can come at a cost, as shown by his two-way and defensive play so far this season. I see parallels to Tyson Barrie in many ways. When they are on top of their game, scoring goals, utilized on the power play, with good teammates, and sheltered more on defense, they can contribute.

According to Friedman, when Paul Fenton was still in charge in Minnesota, he expressed strong interest in William Nylander, which was rebuffed by Dubas.

Ray Ferraro on Leafs’ hiring of Manny Malhotra as AC (TSN1050)
On TSN Overdrive, Ray Ferraro provided his thoughts on the addition of Manny Malhotra to the Leafs’ bench.

A1 guy. Top-notch person. Really smart. Really detailed guy. I think Manny is on his way to being an excellent coach. As an assistant coach, he will help the penalty killers. He was money in the faceoff circle. A really, really sharp hockey guy. I think he has a long future as a coach, and not as an assistant coach. He is really just getting going in his coaching. It is in its infancy, really. I think it is an excellent hire for a staff and an organization that thinks more about the future and possibility than teams that think about the immediacy and what we have now. I think they see real promise in Malhotra.

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