In the deadline hangover edition of the Leafs Links, the insiders discuss the moves Kyle Dubas did and didn’t make before the trade deadline.
On the deadline recap episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Maple Leafs pursued Coyotes pending-RFA forward Conor Garland before pivoting and landing Nick Foligno on Sunday, although a deal with Arizona never came very close.
One player the Leafs looked at was Conor Garland in Arizona. If you look at what the Maple Leafs did, they added Foligno, who is a pending UFA. They added Riley Nash — UFA. They added Ben Hutton — UFA. They added David Rittich — UFA. All of that was important because they want to keep Zach Hyman, and they need the ultimate flexibility to do that. That is point number one.
I do think they had some pretty intense conversations about Garland. I don’t believe it was ever close, but I think they talked about it with Arizona. One of the things there that was most fascinating: Depending on how it all went, Garland didn’t have a contract next year, so you would have a back up. This is the most fascinating thing about the possibility: If Hyman leaves, you have Garland. If Hyman stays, were they thinking, “Do they take Garland for this run, and then figure it out down the road?” It is a fascinating thing, but the price would’ve been higher.
I don’t know what they were thinking. I just know they talked about it. I don’t think it was ever close. They didn’t make the move for Foligno until they knew they weren’t getting Garland. Could they have done both? I have no idea. Garland is only making $775k this year. But I think they looked at it.
Friedman on the Leafs‘ preference for dealing picks and not prospect capital:
One of the teams told me after the deadline was over that when they were talking with Toronto, it was pretty clear: Toronto said, “We are not doing Robertson. We are not doing Sandin.” And I think they said they were not doing Liljegren or Amirov. Those were the four guys Toronto told them they weren’t doing. They basically knew that Toronto wanted to keep their prospects and they were willing to move picks.
Friedman on the Leafs‘ other additions on the edges of the roster:
The night before the deadline, somebody was telling me they thought Hutton would be a good pickup for someone because he had been playing reasonably well. The other thing, too: Ben Hutton is never going to cause you a problem.
The other thing: Riley Nash is going to play for this team in the playoffs. The Leafs have seen a lot of him with Columbus and Boston. I don’t think it is a coincidence.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen joined Leafs Lunch to discuss his decision to sell at the deadline and part with captain Nick Foligno in the deal with the Leafs.
It was very difficult. I had a few conversations with Nick during the year. I told him that I would be as transparent as I can with respect to other teams. When it came to crunch time and we had the top options on the table, I went to Nick and we talked about it.
We were kind of lucky that the best option for us as a franchise was the same as one Nick was very excited about. He was very excited to join Toronto and thinks he has a great chance to win the Cup with that team. I agree with him.
The deal offered by Toronto was also the best deal offered to the franchise. It was a win-win situation. He totally understood where we were at. He is a great pro, a great teammate, a great leader, and just a quality human being — him and his family. I really hope he goes to Toronto and wins the Cup.
Kekalainen’s reflections on pushing his chips into the middle at the deadline back in 2019:
There is only one team at the end of it. That is why they say it is the hardest trophy to win. But we definitely had a chance. Even with the best odds teams get in the playoffs, the percentages are pretty low. When you feel like you have a chance and you truly believe you have a chance, you have to go for it. That is why we all work in this league: to win the Stanley Cup, not just constantly build for the future.
Recapping the trade deadline on the NHL Network, Elliotte Friedman noted interest from St. Louis, Vegas, and the Islanders in Taylor Hall, who appeared to prefer Boston all along.
Taylor Hall said a lot of things that I suspected were true: He wanted to be a Boston Bruin. He wants to be a Boston Bruin after this season. He tried to sign there last year. The reason he didn’t was because the Bruins told him they would have to move some other things before they could bring him in. I think he just felt he didn’t want to wait. He wanted to know where he was playing, and that is why he took Buffalo when Boston wasn’t ready. He flexed his No-Movement Clause a bit to go to Boston.
There were other teams that were in on him: Vegas, St. Louis, the Islanders. At the end of the day, his choice was to try his luck with the Boston Bruins. Kevyn Adams said that the Bruins had leverage and they used their leverage. Adams tried to make the best deal he could, but he also had a situation where he was saying, “I want to be here,” and that affected the situation and the deal Adams could make.
On Halford & Brough in the Morning, Justin Bourne broke down the Leafs’ goaltending situation avec David Rittich and the team’s approach to roster construction.
The elite top-end talent is really hard to acquire. Everything else is kind of replaceable at the end of the year at the bottom of the roster. When you head into free agency or the trade deadline, it is not hard to find a guy who can play 12 minutes a game with energy, can dump in the puck, and finish their checks.
The contracts should be cheap, expire frequently so you aren’t living with years of Jay Beagle or anything to that effect, and also the bottom six should have guys who can play different roles. I don’t think you can have a lot of young guys who you want to play in your top six some day start there. I don’t think they need a Nick Robertson on the fourth line. It is not going to do you any good. The Leafs have really discovered that, “Man, we need someone who can kill a penalty, or be on the ice at the end of the game to protect a lead, not get us a lead. We need some different types of players.”