In the latest Leafs Links, we have reports of interest from Kyle Dubas in big Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton, Canucks forward Tyler Motte, and the possibility of bringing Matthew Knies or Nick Abruzzese into the NHL lineup in April.
LeBrun: Leafs interested in Sharks defenseman Jacob Middleton (TSN)
On the latest Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun reported interest on the Leafs‘ behalf in big, physical left-shot defenseman Jacob Middleton of the San Jose Sharks, while Chris Johnston reports that the Leafs remain active in the trade market for upgrades at all three positions.
LeBrun on the Middleton sweepstakes:
A number of playoff teams from the East continue to check in with San Jose on Jacob Middleton. The price is right: $725k is his cap hit. He has had a wonderful story — he was signed to an AHL deal by San Jose, and this year he has played a top-four role alongside Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns.
Here is the asking price from San Jose as I know it: a second-round pick, plus another pick or a prospect in the package. It’s a pretty high price, similar to the Josh Manson deal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the Eastern Conference teams that I am told have checked in on Jacob Middleton for all kinds of reasons. His physicality on the left side would be of use to Toronto. Boston and Tampa are also in there, I believe.
Johnston on Kyle Dubas’ pursuit of upgrades at multiple positions:
Toronto’s interest there is a reminder that every day is a new day. It was just a week and a half ago that Kyle Dubas said to reporters that he felt he had room for just one move at the deadline to add one player.
I don’t believe that is any longer the case. A lot has played out over the last 10 days. Jack Campbell has gone down injured. They have had some trouble at that position. My sources suggest the Leafs are still looking at upgrading at all three positions in their lineup.
To make all of this money work, of course, they are going to have to trade someone off their roster if they do make multiple additions. That does seem to be a possibility here with six days until the deadline.
Friedman: Leafs interested in forward Tyler Motte, could bring Abruzzese or Knies into NHL fold in April (SN590)
On The Jeff Marek Show, Elliotte Friedman reported interest from the Leafs in depth forward Tyler Motte of the Vancouver Canucks as well as the possibility of the Leafs bringing NCAA prospects Nick Abruzzese or Matthew Knies into the NHL once the college season is over.
Friedman on Dubas’ desire to address the fourth line:
If you take a look at it, on the fourth line, Spezza is what? 10 points away from 1,000? I hope he gets it, but he has been out of action a little bit. Simmonds is not playing [Tuesday night]. I think they have been concerned about how it has been going there.
I think they are trying to get something going. The first line has been unbelievable. The Tavares line has really slowed down. They have been very happy with the third line. But they have been struggling with the fourth line, too, in terms of getting chances and getting things going.
I think they have looked around to see if there are opportunities to make themselves better. I think they have taken a long look at Tyler Motte. I think they are looking at some possibilities on the fourth line to see if that will help them ease the offensive pressure a bit on the Matthews line.
In addition to what they have been looking at on defense and what they have been thinking about in goal, I also think they have been looking at the fourth line and trying to figure out if they can add something to it.
I don’t know if I would say it is a priority. I don’t want to say it is a guarantee. But I do think they have been looking at those kinds of options like a Tyler Motte around the league just to see if it is something they could add to their group.
Friedman on the possibility of Knies or Abruzzese joining the Leafs in April:
We talked about Toronto’s fourth line. I am going to be curious to see if Knies or Abruzzese get chances with the Leafs in April. Are they in a position where they get a chance to play?
I think Toronto wants to inject something into their fourth line. Even though the overall season numbers for some of their forwads are pretty good, it has obviously been a little bit stale lately.
In addition to potentially going out and getting a player, I think the Leafs are also potentially looking at those two players possibly joining the team.
Knies — all of the Toronto fans are like orgasmic over this guy already. He is talented — no question about it. Abruzzese is not a big guy, but he is a skilled guy and is very competitive. His stock has been rising this year. He has had a good season. He made the Olympic team. I am just hearing they want to give him a shot at the NHL if he wants to this year just to see how he looks and how he does.
Friedman on whether John Gibson could be available in Anaheim:
I had some people ask if there is any chance John Gibson ends up in Toronto. If it was to happen, it is not happening right now. I looked into it.
LeBrun: Dubas looking to make multiple moves if he can create cap space; Anaheim Ducks open for business (TSN1050)
On TSN Overdrive, Pierre LeBrun shed more light on the Leafs’ interest in Middleton as well as the latest buzz around Hampus Lindholm in Anaheim.
LeBrun on Dubas’ aggressiveness and interest in Middleton:
I know Kyle Dubas has set up the marketplace by saying they are only going to make one move. Our sense is that Kyle Dubas is going to try to make more than one move if he can swing it. That means he has to move out money for sure, but I think that is what the Leafs are trying to do.
I was told today that the Leafs have shown interest in Jake Middleton of the San Jose Sharks, who is a rugged physical presence. He has been part of that number-two ranked penalty kill for San Jose, playing either on the left side of Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this year.
Clearly, one of the keys in all of this is is AAV — $725k is what Middleton makes. He has played a ton of minutes. He is kind of a poor man’s version of Ben Chiarot, if you will. I am told the asking price the Sharks are telling teams is a second-round pick and another pick and/or prospect. His AAV alone is making him a pretty valuable trade chip.
San Jose doesn’t have to move him. He is an RFA at the end of the year. But playoff teams from the East have been calling on Middleton.
LeBrun on the perception of the Leafs around the league with Jake Muzzin healthy and in the lineup:
I was talking to a GM from a contender yesterday. One of the things he said, completely unsolicited, “I think a lot of teams underestimate what happens to that team when Jake Muzzin is out. We scout for him, and when he is playing at his best on that team, the Leafs are a different animal.”
He pointed out what happened with Muzzin missing both series against Columbus and Montreal.
It is always interesting to hear it from a rival GM. His point is that Muzzin is on the mend, and if he comes back, that in and of itself might be more impactful than anything that happens at the deadline for the Leafs.
LeBrun on the latest with the Anaheim Ducks:
He’s open for business big time. There is always the chance at the 11th hour that there is a breakthrough between Pat Verbeek and Claude Lemieux, the agent for Hampus Lindholm. Neither side has completely closed the door on an extension. But there is such a stumbling block there.
Our understanding is that Verbeek offered a five-year extension, and they want north of five. They want seven or eight years. This isn’t just that this is such an important signing, but it is also Verbeek’s first major play as GM there. I think he wants to put his stamp on, “We can’t be handing out these seven or eight-year deals.”
In the moment, it looks more likely that he is getting dealt than he is signing. Hampus Lindholm is the most talented defenseman in the trade market among the rentals. There is no argument there, in my opinion.
I think Boston is looking at him. I think Florida is looking at him. That is a big domino.
LeBrun on whether Ryan Getzlaf could move or will stay put in Anaheim:
He actually talked to other teams last summer for the first time ever. It got a little dramatic there and some feelings were hurt, but at the 11th hour, he came back.
One of the teams, a year and a half ago or a year ago, that thought about the idea with Getzlaf was Vegas. That is not going to work now after the Eichel deal and everything else.
Last summer would’ve been the window with Getzlaf. I think he wants to retire a Duck, in my books.
Bernstein: Manson didn’t have interest in playing in Canada; Bruins looking to add at multiple positions (TFP)
The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein indicated on Tuesday that Josh Manson was not interested in going to a Canadian market despite interest in his services from the Leafs and Oilers.
Bernstein on the Avalanche landing Manson:
Joe Sakic is all in. He made the move for Josh Manson. Teams like Edmonton and Toronto were interested. I just don’t think he had the appetite to move to Canada for the stretch.
He’s now made the move for Nico Sturm and freed up over a million in cap space. Is anybody coming to mind? Claude Giroux, anyone?
Bernstein on the Bruins’ eagerness to add pieces ahead of 3 p.m. on March 21:
They are still looking at their blue line. Is it a rental? Is it Ben Chiarot from Montreal? Is it a Marc Staal? A Calvin de Haan?
They are still looking. Given the way they have played down the stretch, they have been as hot as any team in the league. There is a belief in Boston that there could be one and possibly two adds, up front and on the blue line, and they could make some noise in the East.
WIth Conor Garland, you always have the conversation about Boston. He is from that area. To me, Boston would be a nice fit for Conor Garland — if they chose to take on term like that, which may be a barrier for teams at this point.