On Episode 6 of the MLHS podcast, Ian Tulloch and Anthony Petrielli discussed Elliotte Friedman’s report that the Leafs are rumored to be in on “half of the league,” including Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, and Mattias Ekholm.
Tulloch: Elliotte Friedman put out in his 31 Thoughts column that the Leafs are rumoured to be interested in half of the league — Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, and for some ungodly reason, Marc Staal’s name was thrown in there as if he is still an asset in the NHL. That confused me. Which of those names intrigues you the most? We haven’t even mentioned Taylor Hall.
Petrielli: Anyone who doesn’t say Filip Forsberg is kidding themselves.
Tulloch: If Taylor Hall is an option, I would personally lean in that direction over Filip Forsberg. First of all, I think left wing is a bigger need for the Leafs. I also think Taylor Hall is a better player in a vacuum.
In the last couple of years, it has been really difficult to measure Taylor Hall’s impact. If you look at his five-on-five metrics with Jack Eichel, they have been great. If you look at shooting percentage, it hasn’t been great. If you look at him in Arizona, there are indicators that show that the quality scoring chances he was generating should lead to points in the future, but the players he was playing with weren’t converting on those chances.
If Taylor Hall is passing the puck to William Nylander and John Tavares instead of the scrubs he was playing with over the past couple of years, does that lead to Hart Trophy-level production again? Maybe not quite, but I would imagine it would be that first-line, top 10-winger-in-the-world level we have seen in the past from him.
I tend to like betting on talent. I think Taylor Hall is the most talented player available this year at the trade deadline.
Petrielli: People will say it was his fault partly, but has Taylor Hall ever not played in a dumpster? No offense to those teams, but that is the honest truth.
For Edmonton, there are no words that need to be said. In New Jersey, Taylor Hall basically blacked out for a season and dragged them to the playoffs. And then he went to Arizona, who won a play-in round last year. They went as far as they could’ve gone or they could’ve reasonably expected with Taylor Hall. I don’t know what more you could expect from Taylor Hall or that Arizona team than winning a play-in round and then losing the next round.
Now, he is in Buffalo, which is a total dumpster. I sympathize with him because that year in New Jersey was ridiculous. He is a really good player. I like Taylor Hall and think he would be really interesting.
I also like Filip Forsberg. He has been an animal in the playoffs. He is also signed for another year.
Tulloch: That is a big deal versus giving up assets for a player that is not even going to be on your team after the playoffs. I like the idea of getting two playoff runs out of Filip Forsberg or Mattias Ekholm. That is what the Leafs did with Muzzin and Tampa did with McDonagh, who they then re-signed.
Petrielli: I think you can play Forsberg on the left side. We talked about this on the Justin Bourne podcast about Mattias Ekholm in the sense that there is nobody to really put pressure on the top four. The top four is what it is. Justin Holl is a good player on a good contract, but he has struggled in the last few games and is coming back to Earth a little bit. He is helped by playing with Jake Muzzin, the Leafs‘ best defenseman at five-on-five. He struggled when Muzzin went down in the playoffs last year.
I am not saying I would go all in on Mattias Ekholm — I think he is going to cost a ton as a guy who is under contract for next season — but I like the general premise of a guy who can put a little more pressure on the top four and shake up those pairings potentially at times. This is basically it as far as the defense through hell or high water. It doesn’t seem to be really changing or impacted based on even the score or the situation. This is the group.
Tulloch: I guess if you really need a goal, you want Rielly-Brodie out there a little more often. If you are trying to prevent a goal, you are probably going to get more Muzzin-Holl. I like the idea of bringing in Mattias Ekholm — you always want to add talent if you can get it — but when you consider the price and the assets required, I think you are better off spending those resources on a forward who can help your second line. You could bring in a Mikael Granlund to play third-line center so you can play Alex Kerfoot at left wing with the Tavares-Nylander pair, which works well.
MLHS Podcast Episode #6 — Season’s First Losing Skid, Frederik Andersen’s play, Trade Deadline Buzz, Auston Matthews’ wrist & the PK struggles
Support the MLHS Podcast on Patreon
Early-release full-length video episodes are available to our patrons each week: