Hampus Lindholm, rumoured Maple Leafs trade target
Photo: Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports

In the latest Leafs Links, we are under 72 hours until the trade deadline, Brandon Hagel is off the trade board (acquired by rival Tampa Bay), and the insiders are pondering just how much of an appetite Kyle Dubas has to pay the prices required to add a big piece on defense or in net.

LeBrun: Leafs were in on Hagel, but Lightning paid up to get him (TSN)

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun discussed the Lightning’s willingness to move two first-round picks in their deal for Brandon Hagel as well as the Leafs‘ involvement in the sweepstakes for the former Blackhawks winger.

[The Lightning] saw one of the most valuable contracts in the entire NHL in Brandon Hagel, who is signed for just $1.5 million a year for this year and for two other years. On top of that, he is an RFA for the two years after that. They have a contract that is controllable for four-and-a-half years. They paid a steep price.

They have zero cap room. They made this trade work with two player contracts the other way with the two first-round picks. I had another GM from another front office text me after the deal saying, “Julien BriseBois… That group is very creative.”

There was pressure. There was interest from other teams, obviously, or Brandon Hagel. The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly gave this a pretty good push, too, according to my sources. The Leafs having such a cheap contract in Brandon Hagel would have helped them not just this year but in the years after this year.

That is why Tampa wanted this deal so badly — they have had cap issues every season, but having Hagel help them in their quest for a three-peat at such a reasonable price was worth it for them. A pretty big haul for Chicago

LeBrun on whether the urgency around adding a goaltender has cooled off for the Leafs:

I am not going to say that they are not going to trade for a goalie, but I would say the urgency has eased a bit. My understanding is that a priority remains trying to get a defenseman. We have talked about some of the names in the last few days: Mark Giordano, Jacob Middleton. The reality is that the Leafs have called on every single name you can think of in terms of doing their homework, but they are also telling teams they don’t want to trade a first-round pick for a rental.

The key for Toronto, and this is the sense I got today from some of the front offices dealing with the Leafs, is that they are being patient. They want to let the market play out here and hope to get a defenseman at their price, not perhaps at the prices we are seeing right now, especially when you consider what Ben Chiarot went for.

Friedman: “I do think Travis Dermott is going to get traded… Everybody here realizes it is time for a fresh start” (32TP)

On the 32 Thoughts Podcast deadline preview edition, Elliotte Friedman suggested that Kyle Dubas is leaning more towards addressing defense and forward than goaltending at this time. He also adds that it’s likely #7D Travis Dermott will be given a change of scenery before the deadline.

Kallgren has given them a chance to breathe for a couple of days. I think he goes for a D. I am not convinced he is going for a goalie. I don’t think he wants to trade his first rounder. He has a situation where they have traded two of the last three. Unfortunately, with Amirov, we wish him the best in his current situation, but you don’t know what his future is going to be.

I don’t think he wants to trade his first-rounder. I don’t think he wants to trade his top prospect for a rental. I do think Dermott is going to get traded. Everybody here realizes it is time for a fresh start — team and player. Regardless of whatever happens, I think he is getting moved.

I think they are going to try to get one or two D. I think they are also going to see if they can get a depth forward.

It is a hard thing. Simmonds and Spezza are such great pros and such great people, but I think they feel they need to upgrade the fourth line.

One thing I have heard is that they have been asked about Engvall. I think they have said no, and the same for Mikheyev. I think they have been asked about Mikheyev and they’ve said no. That line this year has been one of their best lines.

I think Dubas could do a couple of D and a forward. Some of it might be moving money around. The other way I think he would do a goalie is because Joseph Woll got hurt. He might have to get another goalie for that reason, but I don’t think he is looking for a number-one guy.

Bernstein: Ron Francis looking for a first-round pick for Mark Giordano; Bruins, Rangers, Hurricanes, Leafs in the mix (TFP)

The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein reported on Friday night that there are at least four interested suitors — all in the Eastern Conference — for the services of Mark Giordano, who Ron Francis is holding firm (so far) on demanding of a first-round pick for in a trade.

Other than Hampus Lindholm, this is the highest value target right now with respect to trades. He is going to get a first-round pick — it is going to be Boston, the Rangers, Toronto, the Hurricanes. This is a guy who is going to come in and could put a team over. He could be the final piece of the championship puzzle.

Maybe the Bruins aren’t a championship team, but the other teams have designs on that. It is a situation where they could add.

It is not a big market for this player as there are only a handful of teams that he can really be the difference-maker on, but I think once we get to Monday, it is Ron Francis’ job to go get that first-round pick as Kent Hughes did with Ben Chiarot in Montreal.

Friedman: “I am just not convinced the Leafs are going to be willing to do what it takes to get Hampus Lindholm” (SN590)

Appearing on The Jeff Marek Show, Elliotte Friedman predicted that Kyle Dubas does not have the appetite to pay the likely final price to acquire Hampus Lindholm from Anaheim.

I think they are interested, but I don’t think they want to give up their first-round picks. In the last three years, they have traded two of them. We are all rooting for Rodion Amirov, who is the other first-round pick in the other year.I think Toronto looks at it and wants to make these picks. If you look at what Chiarot got, you have to think a first-round pick is going to be involved in this.

The other thing, too: If you look at their best prospects, with Knies in particular, I think we could see him next month. He plays for Minnesota, the number-two seed in the NCAA, and they are playing this weekend. I will say this: Ultimately, it is the kid’s choice and he has to decide what he wants to do, but I think there is some interest from Toronto in seeing him next month and seeing what kind of an impact he could have. He is a really talented guy.

I try to think of how Toronto would structure the deal; how would they get Lindholm? I don’t know if there would be a will to do what it is going to take. Now it probably comes down to Giordano or Middleton or Braun — someone else.

I could be wrong because I know they really like Lindholm and he is someone they really had their eye on, but I am just not convinced they are going to be willing to do what it takes to get him.

I do think there is a very likely situation that Dermott gets dealt this week regardless of what else they do.I don’t know what the full update is on Woll, who was injured recently, but maybe they have to go out and address that, too.

Friedman on the teams in pursuit of Hampus Lindholm:

You’ve got LA — although I am not convinced Anaheim is going to want to deal with them — St. Louis, Carolina, Toronto, and Boston for sure. Boston is motivated to do things. Purely because of the associations there with Lindholm, I just wonder if Calgary would look at it at all.

Friedman on the Bruins’ ambitions this deadline:

I think they want to add a defenseman and a forward. There are a lot of rumblings about Krejci, who has finished his season in the Czech Republic, but he has to clear waivers. That will be tricky. First of all, he has to want to come back, and he has to clear waivers if he did.

Boston likes versatility. Copp is a versatile guy, but I think there is a lot of interest in Copp. I think they are in on Chychrun and all of these D we are talking about — Giordano, Lindholm — and I think they have talked to Vancouver.

The teams that are really motivated sound like they’re LA, Colorado, Boston, Calgary is always in the middle of everything, and Toronto is trying to do some things, but I think they have to figure out the way.

I am still wondering about St. Louis. I can’t see them standing pat. Those are kind of all of the situations I am looking at right now.

Friedman on the first-round pick demand from Chicago in exchange for Marc-Andre Fleury:

I don’t know if Toronto is going to pay that price. I am not convinced Toronto wants to do a goalie. I know everything is going on and we are all staring it in the face. I hear Campbell is going to be okay, and they are hoping this resets him and gives him a break.

I think they looked into Fleury. . I could be wrong. I want to see the situation that makes Fleury say, “Okay, I am going to do that.”

I have had people tell me Varlamov is out there, and now he isn’t. Someone said to me the other day that Greiss is a guy who might make some sense in some situations short term.

There are some teams that are really goofy about goalies at this time of year. The history of goalies at the deadline being successful is not long. Dwayne Roloson was one. Ryan Miller was one in the past that had a really tough time with it.

There is not a lot of practice time between now and then. That’s another reason you’d look at a goalie and be like, “I don’t know.”

The other thing, too: I am curious about Holtby in Dallas because he is skating and then not skating. What is his situation?

Kent Hughes said yesterday that Jake Allen isn’t getting moved. I don’t know how robust the market is or isn’t going to be.

Johnston: I think Kyle Dubas is prioritizing a defenseman, but prices remain high in the trade market (TSN1050)

On TSN Overdrive, Chris Johnston discussed Kyle Dubas’ hesitance to move a first-round pick this deadline and whether he will give in before 3 p.m. on Monday in order to improve his team.

I think he is prioritizing a defenseman. Where it is difficult is that the prices are pretty high right now. There is pressure on a GM like him in this situation. He is seeing — whether it’s Florida, Tampa, or probably Boston by Monday — all of the [rivals] have made moves; Florida and Tampa have already. It is pretty evident that the Leafs are a good team but not quite a complete team at this point in time.

You have a market and a lot of media people talking about this — that you have to make a move. It is sort of walking that line between being overeager and trying to wait out what teams are asking.

Giordano is someone we have linked to Toronto and it is no secret that he personally would like to play here, but his GM wants a first-round pick back. The Leafs have told teams they don’t want to spend a first-round pick on a rental as Giordano is. That is kind of where that rests right now.

How do you manage that? What happens if someone steps up and pays it, and yuo don’t get one of the guys you are looking at closely? That is what is interesting here for Toronto.

I think when all is said and done, they will have another D here. I think you will see someone like Travis Dermott traded away to give him a fresh start with them bringing another defenseman and someone playing ahead of him on the depth chart.

Getting a forward might be a little further down the list in terms of priorities.

Johnston on whether he is surprised by how hesitant Dubas is to move a first-round pick:

I am a little surprised. I wonder how much of it is messaging and how much of it is 100% truth. There is a little bit of deception that goes on even between teams at this time of year. The way the Leafs had phrased it is that they have let it be known they won’t do it for a rental player. For a player who is under contract beyond this season, I think the first-round pick could be in play. It might just be a bit of jockeying in the lead-up to the deadline, or it might be a fact. It is hard to know.

They only own three picks in the upcoming draft. I could see the first being something that even a team that is “all in to win” doesn’t want to deal away for this draft.

That is definitely the word, but seeing is believing. Tampa wasn’t supposed to make any trades if you believe Julien BriseBois in his media availability a month ago. He just traded two first-round picks this afternoon. The truth today is not always the truth tomorrow.

Johnston on whether Kallgren’s play in his two starts so far has changed the Leafs’ thinking at all in net:

It has probably given them a little more confidence in what they were thinking. Even before Campbell’s injury, it was a couple of weeks or a month where the performance just wasn’t there. With each successive game, there is more clamouring around the team about it being an issue. They are throwing Mrazek in and trying to get him to take the ball, and it doesn’t go well.

They were pretty resolute that they could get through with these guys and it is only a matter of time. What Kallgren has done is give them more confidence that this is the case. The approach here is that they just need one goalie who is giving them average to slightly above average goaltending, and they like their chances.

If they have a third guy who can be occasionally pulling on the rope or giving them that, I think it does ease some of the pressure. I just don’t think they like the goaltending market. The only clear upgrade is M-A Fleury, and even his performance has dipped a bit. It is not clear he actually wants to come and play in Toronto, and he has a monster cap hit, so if they find a way to make that work, they might not be able to get the defenseman they want.

All along, they have been trending towards sticking with what they have. Having Kallgren give them a few good starts — maybe he gives them another one on Saturday — just gives them confidence that this is the right strategy.

Let’s face — there is a little bit of blind faith here. I think a lot of the teams in the league have that. Tampa has a starter in Vasilevskiy that every team in the league would want, but most teams have a, “hope it works out.” Even Carolina, Frederik Andersen has had a bounce-back season, but with him and Raanta, they’re just hoping that works.

The approach to goaltending has changed somewhat. The Leafs aren’t expecting to find a sure-thing out there on the trade market. I don’t think they were ever that close to making that deal. They were just hunting around in case it became a necessity.

Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Deadline Preview: The Forward, Defense, and Goalie Options (MLHS Podcast)

In Episode 40 of the MLHS Podcast, Anthony Petrielli and Kevin Papetti break down the Maple Leafs’ needs and options by position ahead of the March 21 NHL trade deadline.