In the latest trade deadline edition of the Leafs Links, the consensus among the insiders has the Toronto Maple Leafs not among the frontrunners for Taylor Hall at the moment, while Nick Foligno’s name continues to surface as a possible fit.
Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour on Friday to discuss the Leafs‘ deadline plans just a few days out from the trade deadline, who their ideal target might be, and whether there might be more than meets the eye with the Frederik Andersen situation.
Johnston on whether the odds of the Leafs making a move have changed at all as we inch closer to the deadline:
I have a feeling they know what they are going to do. There just seems to be so much confidence coming out of the front office of the organization. I think they have a really good handle on how this is probably going to break.
Johnston on the prices for teams looking to buy at the moment:
I don’t think the prices are that crazy right now. For New Jersey to get a first-round pick for Kyle Palmieri, they had to also include Zajac and also eat half of the salary of both players. That is a good sign if you are a buyer like the Leafs because the Leafs are going to need some salary retention.
I don’t think the price is going to be crazy. I think they should trade their first-round pick. It is going to be a low pick. Right now, they are third overall in the league. It is a dark board year if there ever was one in terms of not seeing draft prospects get to play much this season.
I think you will see them likely deal their first. I think they’ll get someone like Foligno, maybe a Hall. The Hall one is a harder one to get a read on. If they are in on Hall, I’ll say this: Dubas is doing it in absolute stealth mode. Some people that are pretty close to that situation don’t think they are legit on it. I do think it makes a lot of sense to at least look at him if they can make it work cap-wise.
Johnston on Nick Foligno’s desire to leave Columbus:
The one thing the Blue Jackets have made clear is that they are not going to do anything he doesn’t want done. If he is traded, it is going to be with him being on board with the situation and everything around it. It sounds to me not like he wants to be traded but that he is embracing that this is going to be a unique opportunity for him.
There are other teams that are there on him. I am not saying it is Toronto or no one, but I think Toronto is a place he would be open to coming. Maybe that is the ideal move for the Leafs.
There are reasons the move is difficult for him, but he might win a Cup, too. He gets to play for a glamor team in the country in which you grew up, that your dad played for — Mike Foligno had a pretty great, memorable moment with the Leafs in 1993 with the overtime goal against Detroit. There is a romantic notion to this. I think it would be difficult on his family, but it is going to be a relatively short amount of time. He is Canadian. A lot of players who have been playing in Columbus have been vaccinated. I don’t know in his specific case, but that could ease some concerns if he has been, too.
I think it makes a lot of sense, and we will see if that is where the ball drops.
Johnston on the situation with Frederik Andersen:
There are a couple of schools of thought going on here.
I believe internally they think they could have one of the better duos in the league if Freddy gets back healthy and Jack Campbell keeps playing the way he has been playing or some version of it. If he has unlocked something here, which it appears he has, the optimistic view is that it is great to have two strong goaltenders if Andersen gets healthy.
The “if” with Freddy is real. I can’t figure this one out. The Leafs have been very good since Kyle Dubas took over as GM in letting us know as much as he can about what is going on with players — what the exact injury is, they have called concussions concussions, and they haven’t always defaulted to lower body/upper body. They have been good on timelines. None of those things have been handed out here other than lower-body for Fred. What we know is that he hasn’t skated since March 19, which is three weeks ago today. He hasn’t been on the ice since then. That is a long time for anyone to be off the ice.
The fact that they haven’t put a timeline on it… Here is my put-on-my-tinfoil hat because we are three days away from the deadline: I have to wonder if there is LTI in play here, that they know already internally he is not going to be back for the regular season… I just wonder if they wanted to not put him on LTIR early, and if potentially that is still a possibility before the deadline that would create cap room and perhaps allow them to go get another goaltender for depth if they feel they need to. I wonder if part of the secrecy here is that they didn’t want to show all of their cards not so much to the media but to the other teams they are dealing with in the trade market.
I have nothing to substantiate that. They have been very strange with the way they have handled this and are not following their own past precedent. Something is up here. Everyone [I talked to] says they think he is going to be back. I don’t suspect this is necessarily a serious injury and everyone already knows he is not playing until next year. I don’t think that is secretly the case, but I just wonder if the way they have discussed this publicly is to do with the deadline and some cap maneuvering they are going to pull off before Monday at 3 p.m.
On SportsCentre with Jay Onrait on Thursday night, Pierre LeBrun named Nick Foligno as the Leafs’ homerun target before the deadline.
One of the things Dubas said is that Alex Galchenyuk’s play had taken a bit of the urgency away from needing to find the second-line winger to play with Tavares Nylander. At the same time, he said there is an interest in trading for a forward who fits in the locker room and on the ice. That is something the Leafs would like to do.
I thought that was a hint. I thought it was him talking about a playoff-type guy with the intangibles. The home run one would be Nick Foligno. On a lower end, is that a Scott Laughton or a player like that who has a bit of bite and can slide up and down the top nine?
LeBrun on the market for Hall in the final few days before the deadline:
I will tell you this: Buffalo better move him before Monday. The later this goes, to me, the danger for the Buffalo Sabres is that the return on Hall is a lot lower than you would hope for. I would say the next couple of days are quite critical on this dossier.
On the Lead Off, Elliotte Friedman discussed his latest feel on the price for Taylor Hall and whether the Leafs are a serious suitor of Hall’s or not.
I think it is going to be hard to get a first-rounder for him. You need a bit of a bidding war, and you need to be willing to do things — look at what the Devils did to get their first-rounder. They made a lot of concessions, and it got them what they wanted. That is probably what is going to have to do, too, with Buffalo.
I am not convinced Toronto is there on him. It is a big poker game right now, and the Islanders and Devils — and the Sabres, kind of, at the same time — had their poker game. That game is over. Now we are onto the next ones.
The thing about Hall is that I didn’t get the sense, when he was taken out of the game on Wednesday and we thought it was close, that Toronto was one of the teams. When it comes to Toronto and Hall, I think it is probably a situation where they are looking at it and saying, “Okay… If we do this, it is because the price is right for us.” I am not convinced they are one of the front runners on him as we say this right now.
Maybe that will change throughout the weekend, but I am not convinced of it at 8 a.m. on Friday morning.
Friedman on a possible depth add for the Leafs on defense:
I have wondered about Oleksiak from Dallas. This is another one I hear about in-and-out. There is a lot of interest in him. The Stars won again last night. It is not an easy road for them with all of the games they have, but they are still in it. I have wondered if Toronto would consider doing something like that. I think Colorado is potentially there on Oleksiak, too, and they’re not the only ones. He had such a good playoff last year that I could see somebody trying it.
On First Up, Darren Dreger suggested he also does not see the Leafs as one of the frontrunners for Hall’s services unless the price dips so low that it makes the most sense close to the deadline.
In relation to Toronto, I think the interest is limited at best. If the market just falls out on Buffalo and Taylor Hall, could Toronto swoop in and claim him at a bargain price? I suppose… I think the only way Hall would become a Maple Leaf is if there is nothing left. Frankly, as of last night, there is lots going on around Taylor Hall and the Sabres. That could just be a byproduct of Palmieri and Zajac being built to the Islanders and loosening the market a little bit. Teams like Boston, maybe St. Louis, and Colorado not wanting to be left out in the cold. Kevyn Adams has a lot to work with, I believe.
Dreger on where Dubas’ priorities lie a few days out from the deadline:
Kyle Dubas continues to scour for a forward. I am not saying Toronto is pessimistic that they are going to be able to land that piece. It is still pretty early. As we’ve continued to say over the last week or so, the sellers aren’t truly defined. The obvious ones are, but a lot can happen between now and Monday in terms of games played and decisions made by General Managers who look at their situation and say, “We don’t have it in comparison to the Leafs or Winnipeg or Edmonton,” as you go through each division. Those decisions may be made in the next few days, and that is what Dubas is hoping and waiting for at this point.
If Toronto can’t be aggressive as they are hoping by adding that top-six piece up front, they feel okay with how Alex Galchenyuk has fit in the top six. Beyond that, you start to open some doors. Maybe a depth defenseman wouldn’t be the worst idea if you can’t get that big forward. You have to have the internal conversations on goaltending. I am not talking about replacing Frederik Andersen but adding a little bit more insurance at the position. Until you see Andersen back on the ice and you are 100% confident he is good to go for the final stretch in tandem with Jack Campbell, you think of worst-case scenarios.
Dreger on Dubas’ options at forward:
If you start with Nick Foligno, some want to connect Foligno to Bill Zito and the Florida Panthers. Maybe it is a bigger package involving David Savard also going to shore up the blue line in Florida. That seems lofty to me, but Zito has the cap space based on the deal he made yesterday with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Mike Hoffman hasn’t been a fit in St. Louis even a little bit, so you are wondering what kind of player you are getting here. I haven’t heard his name connected to Toronto. If you were to bring him in, what does that do to the mix? Does that change how you use someone like Auston Matthews on the power play? If you are not using Hoffman’s shot there, what are you doing? And if he is in, who is out? Is Wayne Simmonds coming out? There are lots of things you can conjure that makes Hoffman less of a fit for the Maple Leafs. A team like Boston is looking at Hoffman for sure.
If you look at the Leafs, there is some speculation with Rakell in Anaheim, but I don’t get the keen sense that it is anything more than tire kicking and I don’t know how recent it is.
I am wondering, if something doesn’t surface in the form of a surprise name aren’t thinking about, maybe Dubas doesn’t do much up front. Maybe he adds a little bit of depth and hopes Galchenyuk will continue to work with Tavares and Nylander when Nylander is back in the mix.
Friedman on Hyman’s future in Toronto: They will do everything they can to make it work (31 Thoughts)
On Friday morning’s 31 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman discussed the Leafs’ potential hesitance towards adding players with term given the contract situation with Zach Hyman.
Friedman on Toronto’s interest in a player with term such as Miles Wood:
Here is my question about the Leafs: Can they take anyone with term? No issue with Miles Wood as a player, but if you take a guy with term, can you sign Hyman? His price isn’t going down.
I do think the team and the player are going to work at it. The team and the player worked at it a bit with Jake Gardiner. They talked about long term and less AAV. They tried some things, and they couldn’t make it work. I don’t want to insult Gardiner here — I think the organization thought really highly of Gardiner as a person — but the want to find a way to keep Hyman will be greater than the want to keep Gardiner. I think they will do everything they can to make it work.
However, every dollar you bring in for next year, it is going to make it more difficult and make your surgery much more challenging. When I hear Miles Wood, I say, “Does that not make your job to sign Hyman more difficult?”
Friedman on the teams being bandied about in the Hall sweepstakes — Colorado, Boston, Toronto, Florida:
Colorado — I think they are going to go after a defenseman. I could see Oleksiak going to Colorado. I don’t know what to make of Hall there.
Boston — CJ reported on Thursday night that Hall is reported to an extension. The thing with Boston is that I am not convinced they want to do rentals too much. It always depends on the price, but I look at Boston, and I am not sure they are crazy about paying a high price for a rental this year. I could always be wrong, but if you look at their team, they are really battling. They have a lot of health issues. He could help them. But I am not convinced they are giving up a first for a rental. Could they possibly give up one of their prospects? Maybe.If we are talking about an extension here, it makes more sense, but Boston has been very careful about its expenditures, so I don’t know.
Toronto — I have heard the rumours. I think if Toronto does Hall, it is them coming in and swooping in late to see what they can do.
Florida is going to take a big swing somewhere, but I wonder if it is more D than forward. I could still see Florida trying to move someone else like Stralman — trying to sweeten Stralman to make a move. I just don’t know if that is going to be possible.
On the Daily Faceoff Rundown, TSN’s Frank Seravalli put a damper on the possibility of deadline fireworks for the Leafs.
At this point, with the way things are trending, I would be surprised if the Maple Leafs did something big.
It has to be about fit. It is not necessarily just about adding a top-six. You start to go through the permutations. If you were to add a guy like Hoffman to the mix, you have to put him in the spot where Matthews is on the power play now, move Matthews to the bumper spot, and sitting the guy in the bumper spot on the bench. You are also taking a guy out of your lineup. Not everybody is going to be happy there. There is a ripple effect that comes with it.
That is sometimes why trade deadline moves, especially for really good teams that are coming along, don’t work out.
Seravalli on Mike Hoffman as a potential fit for Montreal:
I think he is a good fit. I know with certainty they talked to Mike Hoffman in the offseason and were very interested but decided to go with Toffoli. Now that Gallagher is out and on LTIR, it has provided breathing room to actually make a move. By the way, Bergevin and Doug Armstrong have been trading partners previously and recently. They could make something happen. I think it is a possibility. If I am looking at teams interested in Mike Hoffman, I think Boston and Montreal. I don’t think he is a fit in Toronto.