In today’s Leafs Links, the trade scuttlebutt is coming fast and furious with GM Kyle Dubas aggressively shopping ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.
It is clear that getting a forward is what they want to do, and that might eat up all of the cap space. But you can’t rule out a defenseman, either. I saw Elliotte had in 31 Thoughts that he thinks they’re out on Ekholm. I keep hearing that they are still tied to Ekholm. I am certainly not going against Elliotte, but we are hearing conflicting things on that.
I don’t know if that is on the table or not, but I don’t think they can say, “We are totally done at D.” You have to make a wishlist, and then you have to be realistic about what you can get done.
Johnston on the Leafs‘ aggressiveness in the market:
The Leafs are putting first-round picks, top prospects, even potentially a roster player — someone like Alex Kerfoot — on the table which is more than most contenders are willing to give up at this point in time.
… I have heard something like seven names with the Leafs: Alex Iafallo, Nick Foligno, Granlund. I don’t know who it is. I am not convinced it is just the obvious candidates here. I think the Leafs are the type of organization that, smartly, goes through the entire league and thinks of every possible fit there could be. They are playing chess on a different level than we are in terms of understanding what they can do with their cap situation and considering every possible move. I’ll be honest: I don’t know who the player is.
Johnston on whether the quarantine impacts the price of players:
I think the Leafs are going to have to overpay, frankly. I think there is no way around that because of the quarantine issue. The U.S. teams that are selling have no reason to lower the prices right now. They know they have these Canadian teams in a spot where they want to make these deals soon. They have the luxury, if those deals don’t come together, to say, “Alright, the trade deadline is still not for three-and-a-half weeks.”
For U.S. teams, some of them won’t even have a one-day quarantine if the player can drive from city to city. If Kyle Palmieri gets traded from Jersey to the Island, he can play that night for the Islanders. That is a huge difference when it comes to making deals.
There is almost no way around, if you are in the Leafs’ position, that you are going to have to expend a bit more to get someone. At the same time, I would say it doesn’t mean it is not worth doing. If you believe in this season and in the importance of getting that player sooner than later — of getting that person through the quarantine but also comfortable in the new environment — and the fact that you said you are looking for rental players, the clock is ticking. I don’t think it is ticking in Kyle’s favour or any of the other Canadian GMs.
Johnston on whether the prices could fall by deadline day:
Talking to some teams not the Leafs, they think the prices will come way down on April 12th. The sellers are not going to have the same number of buyers as usual. Some teams, at that point, will say it is not even worth bringing players in at that late of a date.
Dreger: Taylor Hall wants stability — either in Buffalo or via trade to a team interested in an extension; LeBrun: Leafs a team to watch on Foligno (TSN)
On the latest edition of Insider Trading, Seravalli, Dreger, and LeBrun provided updates on Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and the cross-border 14-day quarantine rule.
LeBrun on Nick Foligno:
There are teams that have kicked tires on Nick Foligno. He is just the kind of guy you wnat to add to your top six come playoff time. For now, the message from Columbus, I am told, is that they want to make a run here. They want to try to get on a run over the next couple of weeks.
Foligno has a 10-team no-trade list. He is part of this discussion. Columbus hopes it is not a discussion, and that he stays on board and they make the playoffs. The New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs are teams to watch on that front.
Dreger on the latest with Taylor Hall:
Taylor Hall has acknowledged he is still open to his options. One of them is staying in Buffalo and signing an extension. The other being a trade negotiation. Darren Ferris, his representative, and Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams are expected to have discussions in the near future. Hall wants some stability moving forward — either with an extension with the Sabres, or navigating a trade to a team that is interested in extending him in the future.
Seravalli on the likelihood that the cross-border 14-day quarantine rule could be lifted by the deadline:
It could. The NHL is certainly hoping it will. The NHL has been in discussions with the Canadian government hoping to get it reduced from 14 days down to 7 days. At this point, they don’t have an answer. They are waiting on one. The federal government has been busy over the last several months, and it is not happening as quickly as they want. The GMs are not holding their breath.
On Leafs Lunch, TSN analyst Mike Johnson provided his Leafs trade wishlist ahead of the deadline, including three rentals and one player with term.
1. Taylor Hall — He can’t score goals right now — he is infected with whatever else is going on in Buffalo — but he still drives play. He is still a fast skater. He would be here as a complementary player. Buffalo is a wealthy club that would eat half of his salary for sure. You’d have to find a way to make it work, but imagine him playing with Nylander and Tavares and the pace he could add to that lineup when he is not required to be the best guy? I think Taylor Hall would be great. The salary makes it hard, but it would be great.
2. Kyle Palmieri — Big, strong, fast, and he scored 30 goals a few years in a row. He is defensively reliable. He is a physically stout player. Playoff hockey is not going to be a problem for him. He is not bad defensively. He will fit in on your top six and won’t cost as much money. He makes $4.65 million. He might not cost as many assets as Taylor Hall as well if they don’t extend him. I’ve liked him for a while. I think he can fit seamlessly onto a lot of different teams in a lot of different roles. The Islanders will be calling for him as well, but I think he would be a really good fit with either Matthews or Tavares.
3. Alex Iafallo — He plays in LA’s top six, on their power play, on their penalty kill. He doesn’t make nearly as much money and would not cost nearly as much to get. Think of him as Zach Hyman-lite. He has a good motor an decent hands. He only makes $2.4 million — way easier to get in under the salary cap — and he’s 27 years old. He could be really attractive. LA probably wants to re-sign him as he has been good for a while there and has grown as a player. He had 17 goals and 43 points last year in 70 game — Zach Hyman-like production. He brings energy, is strong on the puck. I like him as an option.
4. Rickard Rakell — He has one more year at $3.8 million. I am thinking about Rakell if Hyman is pricing his way out of Toronto. He is playing so well that he might get $5.5 million somewhere. I think he should be in the fours and would want to pay him in the fours, but he might be able to get more elsewhere. Edmonton needs winger and has a ton of cap space. If they don’t get Nugent Hopkins done, it might be something Edmonton is interested in. They have a lot of money coming off of the books. If you don’t think you can get Hyman signed — even though you’re obviously keeping him for the playoffs this year — Rickard Rakell is really good and can play with good players. For another year at $3.8 million, he can play in your top six and score 30 playing with good players. He will cost a bit more to get because of his term.