In today’s Leafs Links, the insiders discuss the likelihood of the Toronto Maple Leafs adding to their goaltending depth before the deadline, the options that are available via trade, and the latest on the Taylor Hall sweepstakes.
On his weekly appearance on The Instigators, Elliotte Friedman suggested the Leafs have called Buffalo to inquire on pending UFA goaltender Linus Ullmark in case the injury news is worse than feared with Frederik Andersen.
The situation I heard his name in, and I don’t necessarily think it was anything like, “Let’s talk about a deal,” but I do think that Toronto, in doing their due diligence as they try to sort out in their net, has called Buffalo to ask what the Sabres are thinking there [with Ullmark]. I don’t know where that is going to go.
Frederik Andersen has an appointment today, and they’re hoping to get better clarity on what his situation is. If he is out for the year or anything like that, Toronto is going to get serious about what they have to do in goal. I do think they have touched base with Buffalo at least asking what their plans are with Ullmark.
“If we need to do this, would there be an option there?”
Friedman on the likely price of Ullmark:
I don’t think it is a first-rounder. I think there is some value there. Kevyn Adams can always say, “You are desperate, and let’s see what I can heist out of you.” That is his responsibility and he should do that. I just don’t know if I see that being a first-rounder.
We’ll find out about Andersen today, and then we’ll know if the Leafs have to go get another goaltender.
Friedman on the Leafs‘ deadline priorities:
It is a go-for-it year. Five on five, they’re really good. They just played Edmonton and Winnipeg back-to-back and played extremely well. I think they would like to get another forward to play with Tavares and Nylander. They are all of a sudden wondering if they have to get a goalie because of the injuries. Both Campbell and Andersen have been hurt.
Friedman on the Taylor Hall sweepstakes:
The one thing about Hall is, because he has such a big cap number, even though the Sabres are willing to eat some of it, they might have to wait until the cap number goes down. There are not a lot of teams with room. I can see that one being closer to the 12th as opposed to soon.
CJ: “I’m confident the Leafs will look different up front on April 13” (SN590)
Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour on Thursday to discuss the team’s goaltending situation, whether they’re in the market for help in net, and the current state of the trade market across the league.
The Carolina Hurricanes have said they would move one of their goalies: Nedeljkovic or Reimer. You have a few goaltenders on expiring contracts like Linus Ullmark in Buffalo and Jonathan Bernier in Detroit, although [Bernier] is out with an injury right now.
Let’s face it: More or less, we are not talking about anyone that is going to be a big headline grabber. That is part of the argument not to do it. Totally depending on Frederik Andersen’s situation, but if you have reason to believe Andersen is going to be back to playing in a week or two or three, you might just try to get through it.
If Andersen can play, you are splitting starts with him and Campbell, the concerns about managing Campbell’s body is a little different if you have a goalie you are more than comfortable rolling out there with him.
I do think it is fair to say that Andersen wasn’t the same goalie last year or this year that he was in his first three years in Toronto, but I do think — especially this season, with the way his play trended — it is tied to the fact that he wasn’t healthy. If he comes back healthy, you might end up with a decent duo here.
Somebody asked Sheldon Keefe if he felt like he was walking a tightrope a bit with his goaltending, and he said, “Yeah, I do.” I don’t think there is any hiding from it. The problem is that there isn’t an obvious goaltender to go trade for that they can use their cap space on and go do it. Anyone they bring in, you are going to go, “Okay, but not great.”
Johnston on sorting out buyers vs. sellers ahead of the deadline:
It is murkier than ever. Two weeks ago, I was certain Nashville was going to be a seller. Now they have six or seven wins in a row. They have won enough games that it is not totally crazy for them to talk themselves into trying to make the playoffs again. Someone like Mikael Granlund — who I think is someone reasonable to tie to the Leafs — is on a one-year deal, but they might just keep him.
There are still going to be sellers. What Buffalo is selling is going to be expensive. To trade a Taylor Hall is easier to do closer to April 12th — the cap hit is less to take on. Every day that passes, he is $100,000 cheaper, or whatever it is.
At some point, it is going to reach a point where teams have to make a decision one way or another. I think Vancouver is being closer to being a seller with some of their depth forwards. It is a weird market and a weird year. I still think there are going to be trades, but it’s not taking shape the way I would’ve guessed. Some teams have been stubborn, won a bunch of games, and have given their GMs some second thoughts.
Johnston on what the Leafs are most likely to do by April 12 and how committed they are to buying:
I am confident that the Leafs are going to look different up front on April 13th — maybe before, but certainly the day after the deadline. I still think they are willing to trade that asset if they have to. The pick they drafted Rodion Amirov with at 15th overall — they were willing to move that pick at the time before even making a draft selection. They just didn’t have a trade that made sense.
I am not identifying Amirov as a player they are necessarily going to move, but they have been willing to move from the top end of their prospect pool all along because they are all in on trying to win now while they have their players under contract. They know they have a good team and just want to make it better.
On TSN Overdrive, Darren Dreger threw some cold water on the notion of the Leafs pursuing a goaltender based on long-term health concerns with either Frederik Andersen or Jack Campbell.
Based on the information I get, they are not deeply concerned about the injury status of either. They are nagging things. My sense is on Freddy Andersen that they hoped he would be further along than he is now, but he is healing and getting better. They expect he should be able to return to the ice sometime soon.
Does that mean in the next week? I don’t know if they have that information yet, but they are comfortable that the rest he is receiving is remedying the situation. It is not believed to be a bigger issue or a longer-term problem.
… Is there at least reason to have an internal discussion on whether you need to improve your #3 and find whatever upgrade there might be on Michael Hutchinson? I think they’re having those discussions. I just don’t believe there is a heightened level of urgency to it.
Dreger on the teams active in the goalie market:
Who would be surprised if the Hurricanes use one of the goaltenders as a pawn in the trade market? I know that the Washington Capitals want to add a goaltender — they would prefer to add some experience at the position. Is Colorado set with their small acquisition? Maybe you could put Toronto in that category, but I just don’t get that sense from Leafs sources based on the health status of Freddy Andersen or Jack Campbell.
On Leafs Lunch, Pierre LeBrun provided his sense of how urgently the Leafs are pursuing goaltending options.
I think they have done their due diligence to some degree. I don’t know if that is a move they are going to make.
Would I do it if I were Kyle Dubas? No. I don’t think, with how little capital they have with the cap… And Jack Campbell has proven a lot. As long as you believe Frederik Andersen will be back and healthy, that is not a bad one-two punch.
Unless they are under the impression that they are not going to believe in Andersen again this year, that is a different question. As long as he is back and healthy at some point, knowing Jack Campbell is doing some special things, that is not where I would be using my salary cap leverage at this point if I am Toronto. I would be looking at another piece up front.
Scouring the TradeBait list for Leafs targets (MLHS Podcast)
In Episode 9 of the Maple Leafs Hot Stove Podcast, Ian Tulloch and Anthony Petrielli debated the options on the TSN TradeBait list, Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton’s fits in the lineup, the team’s goaltending situation (and if they should add another option), and much more.