In today’s Leafs Links, the insiders provide the latest on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ trade pursuits, including updates on the Mikael Granlund and Mattias Ekholm sweepstakes, while Nazem Kadri reflects on his time in Toronto.
On TSN Edmonton, Frank Seravalli reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs are actively seeking out third-party cap facilitators ahead of their trade deadline wheeling and dealing.
I think [Dubas] is going to pull the trigger on something significant. His team is in a spot where they all recognize what the expectations are, how they played for a long stretch of the season, and also where they are with Zach Hyman and Freddy Andersen as pending UFAs. This team is going to require a little bit of surgery in the offseason. Each opportunity you have to take a run with the group that you have, without major implications cap wise, you have to try and take advantage of.
There seemed to be some thought over the weekend that the Leafs can’t rule out adding a defenseman and maybe getting some better support for their goaltenders. I still think the focus is solely on adding a forward. They would like to add someone of impact — a middle-six guy that can perhaps play with John Tavares. They are exploring all sorts of options.
They have already engaged third-party teams to try to broker a deal cap space wise if they need to so that they could go after someone with a higher cap hit if that was what they desire.
On Tuesday evening’s Insider Trading segment, Frank Seravalli and Pierre LeBrun provided the latest on Mikael Granlund and Mattias Ekholm sweepstakes in Nashville.
I believe the Leafs’ primary target is Nashville forward Mikael Granlund. There have been a number of complicating factors that have popped up:
1. The Leafs are waiting for some clarity from the NHL as to whether this 14-day quarantine will be reduced to seven days. They have actually been spearheading the charge among the seven NHL teams as to whether that will happen or not.
2. There seems to be some slight hesitation on the part of the Nashville Predators, as the Chicago Blackhawks have come back to Earth, as to whether they are still in the race or not. I am not sure it is fair to say that the Preds are pulling their players off of the market, but it just seems at this point that they are more wait-and-see mode rather than sell mode. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, if things don’t get going soon, they are going to have to consider Plan B, C, or D on the list.
LeBrun on the asking price for Mattias Ekholm:
It is a three-asset ask to get in on the bidding for Mattias Ekholm: a first-round pick, an elite prospect, and a third asset, which can take on different forms. That is a lot. Part of that is that the Predators don’t have to trade Ekholm at this deadline. He is signed through next season.
Really, there is also the internal debate for Nashville: Is their best offer at this deadline, when contending teams believe they can get Ekholm for two playoff runs, or is it after the July expansion draft when interested teams no longer have to worry about their protection issues?
Seravalli on the goaltending market:
A quick update on the goalie market: Darcy Kuemper — a lot of teams are curious about his health and availability. I am not sure a trade happens before the deadline, but it is certain he will be healthy and back in the Coyotes lineup before the deadline hits.
Also, Jonathan Bernier is day-to-day. If you are looking for a goalie, there are two that could be on the board and in play.
On the latest 31 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman put a damper on the Jonathan Quick-to-Toronto rumours and provided the latest on the David Savard and Nick Foligno situations in Columbus.
David Savard — my opinion is that he is not coming back to Columbus. He is a UFA, and he is going somewhere else. That is my opinion. I don’t think he will be returning. Things can change, but I am just talking about this in [late March 2021]. I think Columbus knows this, too.I think this is going to be end of is time there for him.
I am not so sure about Foligno. I think there is a real emotional connection between that organization and their captain. I have heard it is not something they are crazy about doing. They still have to reach a deal for him to come back if that is the case. But some people have told me they aren’t convinced that is something Columbus wants to do — trade him.
Friedge on whether the Quick rumours have any substance:
I don’t think so. I don’t think that is going to happen. There is some circumstantial evidence with him being really tight with Jack Campbell and Frederik Andersen really struggling in the game against Calgary. Would Toronto look?
I just don’t believe the Leafs think it is viable. Nothing against Quick — he is a really competitive guy — but at the end of the day, my sense is that the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t believe it is the smartest thing to do to take a 35-year-old goalie who has an injury history, have him go through a two-week quarantine, ramp him up, and throw him into big games.
All the intel I could get was that. I don’t think that is what Toronto is going to do.
Nazem Kadri: “The number of times I have been on the front page of the Toronto Sun with the shittiest headlines…” (Spittin’ Chiclets)
Nazem Kadri joined the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast where he discussed his time as a Leaf playing under Randy Carlyle and Mike Babcock, the trade to Colorado, the realities of the Toronto market, and much more.
Kadri on his relationship with Babcock and his thoughts on him as a coach:
To be honest, I think Babs was good. He was good for me. He taught me a lot about the game. He was a good coach. I think he made me a better player, that’s for sure, just getting me dialed in with the details. Did I question his methods sometimes and how he approached certain things? Yeah, but like we were talking about, you have to give a little pushback. If you don’t agree with something, you stand up and say it. I think that is one thing that Babs really appreciated: someone standing up for themselves.
Kadri on the reports about Babcock’s questionable dealings with players and if he saw him cross a line while playing for him:
That one is a bit of a delicate one. For me, I think I actually had a decent relationship with Babs. I didn’t really let him push me around. You just have to stand up for yourself and have your own voice.
He is a detail-oriented coach. He prepares. His detail for the game is the best I have ever seen in terms of preparing for a game plan. The way he approaches some situations or says certain things, that maybe crosses a line. But I understand from a coaching perspective how you want to get the most out of players and you want to push some buttons.
You have to know who that works for and who it doesn’t. That’s it at the end of the day.
Kadri on whether it ever reached a point where he felt he had to step in:
I don’t think it ever got to that point. Babs loved his one-on-one meetings. A lot of times, he wouldn’t necessarily say it in front of the whole team. If something was going on with another player, you maybe wouldn’t know about it as much as you would’ve if it was in front of the whole team. He kind of kept that between certain individuals. He definitely tries to push you for sure.
Kadri on whether he had any intense one-on-one meetings with Babcock:
All the time. That was the thing. We had a relationship where if you hash it out like men, you might get into one of those battles. At the end of the day, you flush it. You want to be better for your team. You’ve just got to stand up for yourself.
Kadri on getting suspended as his final act as a Leaf:
It was a little bittersweet. That is just the kind of guy I am and always will be. I stand up for my teammates. [DeBrusk] pasted Marleau into the dasher there and I didn’t like it. Am I trying to go over there and cross-check him in the face? Definitely not. It just kind of came up a little high. I served my time and took accountability.
Obviously, I wasn’t a huge fan. I wanted to play in the playoffs. At that time, I was playing [well], too. I was playing nice. It was a bit of a shitty thing for me to go through.
You can’t think I was going to do that again for a third time, could you? Two is enough.
Kadri on the craziness of playing in Toronto at times:
At the end of the day, when you are playing in a market like Toronto, you have to understand that some crazy stuff is going to happen. The number of times I have been posted on the front page of the Toronto Sun with the shittiest headlines — it is something that you can’t let bother you. You have to just keep moving forward. You definitely have to have a mental toughness.