In today’s Leafs Links, Elliotte Friedman gives the latest rundown on the various trade possibilities involving the Toronto Maple Leafs and the latest rumour buzz from around the league.

Friedman: Eric Staal not likely for Toronto, Rickard Rakell could be too pricey, interest in Mattias Ekholm (SN)

On the 31 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman provided his latest feel on the trade talk around the league and who the Leafs might be in on ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.

Friedman on the Jets and Leafs‘ outlook for the deadline:

If you are the Winnipeg Jets, do you not have to go out and get Mattias Ekholm or David Savard? [I know] it is going to cost you a lot.

I do think the Leafs will sort themselves out. I don’t like what is happening in net, but if you are those two teams, it is now a go-for-it year.

I am sure the Jets are sitting there and saying, “We don’t want to deal with this quarantine again, and we have already given up a lot.” But there are seasons where you are sitting at the table with all of the chips in front of you, and you say, “Screw it, I am going in.”

Friedman on Kyle Dubas’ desire to make a trade, and the possible names he is or isn’t in on (Staal, Rakell, Granlund):

I think he has been [burning the phones] already. I find it hard to believe he isn’t looking to add.

I have heard Eric Staal is not likely a candidate. I hate to say it is not happening, but I have heard it is not happening. The reason: Pierre Luc Dubois is a guy in his early 20s, and look at how hard the quarantine was on him. Staal is in his mid-30s. Do you want to do that, make him sit for two weeks, and then have him ramp his way back up? I’ve heard it is a concern. I am not convinced Staal is going to be the answer for a Canadian team.

I have also heard that with the price of Rakell, I am not so sure Toronto is going to be in on that. I could be wrong again, but I have heard the price on Rakell is going to be… Maybe Anaheim thinks Toronto doesn’t have what it wants.

I go back to Granlund, and maybe anyone else i haven’t thought about there.

Friedman on the Mattias Ekholm sweepstakes and the teams involved:

One of the questions I often ask: Is there anyone new out there? Are there any new names on the trade block that I hadn’t heard of? Not everyone is going to tell you, but you always try. I still get the sense — and I heard this weekend — that the name that makes the biggest difference to the team that gets him is Mattias Ekholm.

He is the biggest name out there right now that I know of — and that people are willing to tell me — who is a difference maker.

They are looking for a Muzzin kind of package — two prospects and a first rounder. Someone is going to pay that. My question is: Who is it going to be? Winnipeg, I think, is in. Boston is in. I’ve had some questions about whether or not Toronto is in.

The thing with Toronto is: If you get Ekholm, you have three lefties — Rielly, Muzzin, and him — and what are you doing with that? How are you sorting that out?

I’ve heard at times that Montreal is in, but I have also had people tell me that Montreal is not. I don’t know what to make of that.

The other wildcard is Philly. Again, I have had people tell me that Philly is not going to give up what they need to give up to get Ekholm unless they can solve an expansion-draft issue at the same time. Plus, do they really think this is their year?

I’ve had other people tell me Philly is going to go for it anyway, but some people have pushed back on that.

That’s at least five teams: Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Philly. I think he is the guy.

The other team out there, although it’s not a defenseman: Detroit could be pretty interesting… What does someone think of an Anthony Mantha or a Tyler Bertuzzi?

I still think Ekholm, as far as I can tell, is the guy. I am not so sure Anaheim is going to deal Rakell. As we sit here on Sunday night, Iam not convinced they are going to do it.

Friedman on Kyle Palmieri:

I think they are beginning their phase there: What are we doing here? Can we get a deal done here? What it is going to take? How do we feel? How do you feel? Yes/no, and if no, where are we going here?

I think that process is beginning.

Dreger: Dubas isn’t close on anything but has been making calls (TSN1050)

On First Up, Darren Dreger discussed how close Kyle Dubas might be to pulling the trigger on a move during the lull in the Leafs‘ schedule.

Is there a possibility that Kyle gets some business done during this stretch? Yes. He has been making his calls. We know that he has been targeting a forward. There has been some speculation about the potential of a defenseman. Mattias Ekholm’s name is out there. In saying that, those two transactions are difficult to complete in a healthy world — even during the offseason when you have more flexibility.

I am not saying Dubas can’t do both. I am saying it is going to be a significant challenge with where the Maple Leafs are on the cap, the pieces they are going to have to give up to acquire the forward or defense. It is doable and it makes sense given the break and quarantine restrictions in Canada that he would be pushing to some degree, but there is no evidence — as we are having this conversation — that he is close on anything.

Dreger on the Leafs’ trade chips:

The Maple Leafs do have currency to apply to try to lure one of those pieces, either a defenseman or a forward. We talk more publicly about their want for a forward because it solves a couple of problems — it gives them more push in their top 6-7, takes some of the stress off Joe Thornton, and maybe buys you a bit of insurance to go into the negotiation with Zach Hyman, especially if that player you acquire has a year or two or three left on his contract.

Toronto has some depth. If you look at their top prospects, there is Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, Nick Robertson, Rodion Amirov, a first-round draft pick, and a second-round draft pick. I don’t think they want to part with any of that — they don’t — but if the perfect fit materializes….

Johnston: “I think there is an opportunity for the Leafs to do something pretty big in the next few weeks” (SN590)

Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour to discuss the outlook for the trade deadline and the Leafs’ desire to buy within a difficult trading climate.

Johnston on the Leafs’ desire to make a move while dealing with a cap predicament:

I’d caution you against saying there is only one move. If they make a larger trade, there might be opportunities there to add a player that is on an expiring contract. This is a unique opportunity. There isn’t a huge seller’s market because the Leafs are one of the few organizations in hockey that is weathering the pandemic and is still able to spend money. I think they are highly incentivized given how many years they are into building around this team. Making a bold move to get them over the top isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

They aren’t in a position to add players without subtracting, but given the unique circumstances, I don’t think we can entirely rule out a bolder play here. It is time to be bold. It may not be DeRozan-for-Kawhi-Leonard bold, but I do there is an opportunity for them to do something pretty big in the next few weeks.

On it being a buyer’s market with the cap situations around the league constraining player movement:

I think it is going to be hard for Buffalo to move Taylor Hall this year. That is no comment on the season he is having, but with an $8 million cap hit, even if they are eating 50%, there is really only a limited number of places where that trade would make sense, where he would waive his no-move clause to make it happen.

Biron: You don’t always need an Andrei Vasilevskiy to win a Cup (TSN1050)

TSN Hockey Analyst and former NHL goaltender Marty Biron joined First Up to discuss the play of Frederik Andersen of late.

I think Andersen is good enough. Is he Andrei Vasilevskiy or Marc-Andre Fleury level? He is not. He is in that second tier. That is good enough to get you past a round or two. The Dallas Stars went to the Final last year with Anton Khudobin. It doesn’t have to be Vasilevskiy every year.

I like Andersen and think he is good enough. Are there some trends this year that need to be fixed? Absolutely. He has given up a lot of goals above the glove. The catching glove is supposed to be your strength as a goaltender. That is the thing you will live and die on. You are not getting beat on a clean shot above the glove. If you do, you know you are struggling.

In the last few games, he has gotten beaten up there quite often. I think he is getting more shots at the high glove. Teams are picking away at it. I think they are going high glove when they can, and it has been paying off.

I watched all 17 goals he gave up in the last five games before he went into the game against Ottawa yesterday. There are a lot of deflections, a lot of Royal Road passes across. There are a lot of grade-A scoring chances the Leafs are giving up. It definitely weighs on Andersen and his numbers and the way he feels in the net.