The 10-hour gap between the filing of Seattle Kraken’s picks to the NHL and the expansion draft event is proving to be far too much time for the hockey insiders to do their thing.
The Leafs, according to Frank Seravalli, are losing the recently-acquired Jared McCann to Seattle.
The end result: Toronto traded prospect Filip Hallander and a 7th round pick to Pittsburgh to essentially protect their roster from Seattle.@DFOHockey
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 21, 2021
Given the apparent temperature of the fan base right now, it feels worthwhile to point out that whether Kyle Dubas changes the team’s overall makeup enough to your liking this offseason has little to do with tonight’s expansion draft. Substantial change to the roster was never happening today.
Dubas’ job was to reduce the damage done in terms of the guaranteed loss of an asset to Seattle. For all of the reasons I outlined in greater earlier in the week, I believe he’s done a logical thing in this regard by holding onto his current #4 RHD making $2 million through 2022-23 (Justin Holl) and by keeping one of Alex Kerfoot/Jared McCann (in the end, Alex Kerfoot) at the price of Filip Hallander.
Now we move forward to the rest of the offseason, where the decisions Dubas made in regards to his asset management around the expansion draft do not necessarily have any bearing on who is staying and who is going in the moves to come. There is no rule stating that those protected — or not selected — today have to stay on the team’s roster for the rest of 2021-22.
The framing of, “Dubas knew he was losing McCann and moved Hallander in order to protect Kerfoot,” would suggest there was not an internal debate among Ron Francis and the front office in Seattle as to which to take. According to Elliotte Friedman, Seattle appeared to want both prior to the trade between Pittsburgh and Toronto. Dubas likely did not know for sure which direction it was going to go.
It isn’t necessarily an indication that Dubas isn’t going to change much of anything about this forward group besides losing Zach Hyman, plugging in a mid-tier forward from the FA pool, keeping Kerfoot, and basically running it back again.
If that’s what he does, he’s fully open to (and in my view, deserving of) the criticism that will come his way. But that’s a separate conversation from the expansion draft one, which again, was about minimizing the loss of an asset.
Similar to when they lost Brendan Leipsic to Vegas, in losing Filip Hallander, the Leafs emerged from this expansion draft relatively unscathed, and they did it despite this time needing to protect all of their most valuable players (many of whom were exempt in the Vegas expansion).
The Leafs now enter the offseason under the following conditions:
- Zach Hyman, Zach Bogosian, and Frederik Andersen are all likely to leave via UFA
- They need a second goalie (1B type)
- They have $9.44 million in cap space with which to work (with Alex Kerfoot’s $3.5 million still on the roster)
- They have 10 NHL forwards signed but need LW and potentially 3C help
- Morgan Rielly is now officially entering his walk year
Let’s see what Dubas comes up with.