In today’s Leafs Links, Elliotte Friedman and Pierre LeBrun discuss the latest buzz around the Toronto Maple Leafs and their trade deadline pursits, including possible targets at both forward and defense.
On First Up, Pierre LeBrun provided his latest sense of what the Leafs are pursuing in regards to forward help.
In the quote in which Dubas said the play of Galchenyuk has left them with less urgency to pursue that specific type of winger on that line, in the same comment, he said that if the team has a chance to upgrade at forward, we are looking for a guy who can fit in the locker room and on the ice. The locker room, I thought, was a hint. I think it has a Nick Foligno written all over it, or a lesser version of Nick Foligno.
The Blue Jackets plan a couple of weeks ago was to go right to the deadline and see where they are at in the standings. Trading Nick Foligno, which is a distinct possibility, will be a very emotional thing for Jarmo Kekäläinen. He has been the heart and soul of that franchise for many years. There is a close connection there in the community. This is not just, “Let’s do asset management.” This is Nick Foligno.
For the Leafs to get in on that, they obviously have to have a third-party broker or a separate deal. I can tell you that, from my sources, the San Jose Sharks are a team that has told the league, “We have a lot of cap space. If you need to use some of our cap space and pay us an asset, give us a call.” I believe the Leafs are among the teams who have talked to San Jose about that. That is how you get into a Foligno.
If the Leafs go smaller scale, I think Scott Laughton from the Flyers would be a great fit. He can play center or wing. That could be someone who can play on either the second or third line and have some flexibility with a little bit to his game.
LeBrun on the possibility of Jaden Schwartz moving out of St. Louis:
Doug Armstrong has shown that when he feels his team is not ready to contend… He traded Kevin Shattenkirk in 2017 when his team was in a playoff spot. He traded Paul Stastny in 2018 when his team was one point out of a playoff spot. They are three points out. They are going to deal Hoffman, I think. They could potentially deal Bozak.
Another guy who is a pending UFA who has been a Blue his whole career is Jaden Schwartz. That is a big name. He is a really good player, especially come playoff time. But I think the Blues want to sign him according to all of the indications I have had — except that they haven’t yet. That is one of those names where I am saying, “I don’t think he is on the board, but just file it away in case you don’t get shocked.” I think they rather keep him and rather sign him.
LeBrun on whether he foresees interest from the Leafs in Mike Hoffman:
I don’t, and it is not a knock on Mike Hoffman. I think it is about the criteria I think the Leafs have set out. If Galchenyuk had never happened, maybe he would be. Because Galchenyuk happened, I feel like now the Leafs are looking more for that player with bite and the playoff intangibles.
Mike Hoffman can really help a team that is in dire need of adding spice to their power play and some scoring. I don’t think the Leafs need either one of those things. I think the Leafs have all the offense they need and are looking for something different, but we don’t know.
What if Hoffman gets to 2 p.m. EST on Monday and he is still sitting there?
LeBrun on whether the Leafs were in on Kyle Palmieri:
I think the Boston Bruins tried pretty hard on Kyle Palmieri. I think the Leafs did show some interest, but I would tell you that I think Boston was in there harder. They didn’t get him. It makes me wonder about Mike Hoffman, who is now on the market for St. Louis and was scratched last night. Would the Bruins turn their attention there?
LeBrun on how cheap prices might become on April 12 in a buyer’s market:
It is so much a buyer’s market that we might be shocked by the prices at the end of it in terms of guys you think are decent players that are available and end up going for fourth or fifth-round picks. There just aren’t that many teams looking to buy. The sellers outnumber the buyers.
On the latest episode of Leaf Report, Elliotte Friedman discussed the various balls in the air for the Leafs ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.
Friedman on the goaltending decision:
The best information we have now is that they do believe Andersen is coming back this year. He will not be back by Monday. They are going into it knowing that the deadline comes at a time when they won’t have him available, but they believe he is going to play.
Question #1: Is that good enough for them?
Question #2: What is the better option, and at what price?
I think question #2 is a very big part of question #1. When the quarantine was 14 days, I don’t think they were going to do anything.
The other thing is: You have to bring in a guy who is going to sit for two weeks and then you have to be convinced he will be healthy. When the Jonathan Quick rumours were coming out, Quick made a lot of sense as a person — he is competitive, he cares a lot, he knows Campbell. I understand why that got out there, but when you look into his injury history, it made no sense.
That is one of the things they’re looking into: If they are going to bring in a guy, are they going to bring in a guy with a history of getting hurt? Raanta, Kuemper, Ullmark, Rittich… I do think they have checked in on all of these guys, done their due diligence, and called all of these teams and said, “If we want to do this, what are you willing to do?” Injury history is a big deal.
#2 is that we want someone who is healthy and is a better goalie than what we have. How many of those guys are there?
Friedman on Anton Forsberg as a possibility if the Leafs look to add in net:
We haven’t mentioned one name yet, and that is the guy I have started to wonder about: Anton Forsberg. This guy has played one game all year in the NHL suddenly does a back-to-back in the NHL for Ottawa. I didn’t think about it, but someone called me Tuesday morning and said, “Does it not seem weird to you that Anton Forsberg, who had one game all season, suddenly played back-to-back for Ottawa?” That is unusual. I do wonder if that is a showcase.
There is a guy who is making minimal or close to it. He has been unbelievable this year in a ridiculous situation. All of the teams that have had him have said, “All he does is go to practice and just play.” His counting numbers have been pretty good — at least superficially, they are good. He played in an AHL game where beat the Marlies and looked good. I am extrapolating a lot of things here.
I also think the Leafs aren’t going to get a depth goalie unless they think he is better than Hutchinson. Are you comfortable with Campbell, Andersen and Forsberg, or Campbell, Forsberg, and Hutchinson? I don’t know what it is going to be, but it has to be better and healthier than what they have. How many people fit that?
Friedman on depth defense options:
One of the guys I’ve started to wonder about is Jamie Oleksiak. He played great in the bubble last year. Playoff hockey is a bit of a different animal. I could see Toronto considering something along those lines.
I think the thing they want the most is the forward, and I am really curious to see who they decide is the best forward for fit. But there is a lot on the line this year. I think they’re really good. They have overcome a lot. Their game against Montreal is a perfect example — you get a very good player who goes down with a Covid exposure. What must it have been like in that room on Wednesday? They didn’t play great at times, but they grinded it out. I think it says a lot about what this team is this year. I think they have a great attitude.
Friedman on the team’s top priority ahead of the deadline:
The line I have used is, “The best forward they can find.” Someone corrected me and said, “The best forward who fits their team.” I think it is someone who can play with Nylander and Tavares. That is what I think they are looking for: the best forward they can find who fits with Nylander and Tavares.
I do think they want someone with some edge. But if you have watched Taylor Hall play before, I think he has edge. Sometimes I think we mistake edge with a guy who goes out of their way to put a stick up someone’s nose. I don’t necessarily think that. To me, Matthews has edge if you watch him play this year. Edge is a guy who is competitive and will give as good as he gets.
The thing about Hall: I almost change my mind daily on the Leafs and Hall and whether there is anything there. This week, I really thought if Hall was going anywhere, he was going to the Islanders. I think they were in on that. Now that it’s not happening, I am kind of curious about it. I think the Leafs have kicked around on a lot of things. I don’t get the sense they were one of his biggest pursuers over the last 24-48 hours. I always use the qualifier, “Anything can change,” but I haven’t gotten the sense they are one of the biggest pursuers.
Friedman on whether the Leafs would inquire about Jaden Schwartz or Tyler Bozak in St. Louis:
I do think they will look. Don’t forget that when Nylander was almost traded that year, the Blues were one of the teams. They were pretty far along on a Nylander-Pietrangelo thing with more pieces there. Obviously, they’re not doing Nylander now, I don’t think. There is some history there. I know those teams were mad that it got out.
I think Schwartz that would be perfect for Toronto, as long as he stays healthy. I do think one of the things Toronto is looking at here is the injury history of the players. One of the things I have heard about Schwartz: The preference is for St. Louis to bring him back. I have heard, if he gets traded, it is either going to be him saying he wants to go somewhere — which I don’t think is going to happen — or you look at the deal and say, “Ah, that is why they did it.”
The Bozak thing makes a lot of sense to me, depending on how high you think his ceiling is, just purely from the way that he left. They told him they were going another direction. He said those incredible things about Toronto. They did that video for him. I know the Leafs really appreciate it. He could have buried them on the way out. The fit, from a personality point of view, is perfect. The question is: Is he high ceiling enough for what they want? It is not a personality question. It is a player question.
Friedman on other options for the Leafs up front:
He is more of a secondary need than a primary need, but Scott Laughton… He is a local guy, and he is very passionate. He would be a guy who is running through walls.
Potvin: I see shades of 1992-93 with this Leafs team (Sportsnet 590)
Felix Potvin joined Writers Bloc to discuss Jack Campbell breaking his franchise record for consecutive wins by a Leafs goaltender.
I see a little bit of what we did in ’92-93 this year. They started good, but as the season goes on, they seem to get stronger — not only offensively; they’re playing well without the puck.
In Episode 10 of the Maple Leafs Hot Stove Podcast, Ian Tulloch and Anthony Petrielli break down the North Division entering the final stretch of the regular season, the Leafs’ most pressing deadline needs, the struggling power play, Mitch Marner’s 200-foot play, and much more.