Trade Deadline Action Heating Up For Maple Leafs
With three deals in the books, there are still plenty of Leafs players on the trading block. Here’s a preview of where some might be heading and what the Leafs can expect in return.
By: Aaron Greenfield
P.A. PARENTEAU + BYRON FROESE
Parenteau has had somewhat rejuvenated his career this season with the Leafs but it’s almost a guarantee that he will wear a different jersey in March (though he has expressed interest in signing with the Leafs in the offseason). The former 20-goal scorer leads the Leafs in powerplay points with six and his 30 points on the season is good for third best on the team. A lot of his offense seems to come from linemates creating the initial play and P.A. being in the right place to put the puck in the net. A contending team with a solid offense but struggling powerplay looking to improve is the team that will pursue him. Froese is a wildcard who Babcock likes and hasn’t been mentioned as being on the trading block but because I don’t think the Leafs see him in the long-term future, they may package him along for a better return.
I originally had the Rangers acquiring the Leafs winger because of their struggling powerplay and inconsistent scoring from players like Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast but with the lack of winger depth the Blackhawks have, they could aggressively pursue Parenteau and outbid New York. There have been multiple rumours that Chicago wants to dump the $4 million they’re paying Bryan Bickell and the Leafs would be more than willing to do so for the right price. The Leafs may ask for a second bad contract buried in the minors to improve their return. As for what the defending champions get, Parenteau has proven that with the right linemates he can score a lot of goals in key situations, which makes him the perfect fit for a team looking to make a deep run. Froese could be considered an improvement from Danault or Rasmussen in their bottom six centres and Froese has proven this season to be very good at key faceoffs and penalty killing.
Expected return: Marko Dano, 2nd round pick, Bryan Bickell, Rob Scuderi
Though he still has another year left on his contract and the Leafs still need NHL bodies on their own roster, especially in key defensive situations like penalty killing, Winnik could still be on the move. Last season, the Leafs dealt Winnik to the Penguins who were gearing up for a long playoff run. It didn’t last as long as they had hoped, but the deal worked well for the Leafs who not only got the Penguins’ 2nd and 4th round pick, but also signed Winnik back in the offseason. Winnik hasn’t been as impressive this time around but there’s enough value that a team in the playoff hunt looking to add a bottom six winger could be interested in his services.
The Panthers have been impressive this season, but while their top six is young and skilled, their bottom six is inexperienced and needs improvement. If the Panthers want to be serious contenders, they’ll have to improve on their 13th ranked penalty kill, and that’s where Winnik fits in. He can bring experience and penalty-killing prowess to make the Panthers special teams better and bottom six more experienced.
Expected Value: Connor Brickley, 4th round pick, 6th round pick
BRAD BOYES + MICHAEL GRABNER
Call it a disappointing season but really, what were the expectations for him to begin with? The former 1st round pick of the Leafs finally got his debut with the team 15 years later but started slow out of the gate and at times looked lost and a step behind everyone else. Since then he has picked up points slowly but surely and now sits at six goals and 19 points. While this is hardly the production any team would want from a rental, he is a potentially cheaper option to still chip in. A team with some skill upfront already but looking for some leadership and experience in a bottom six role is the team that pursues Boyes.
Many Islanders fans warned of the signing of Grabner and they called it. Grabner has come as advertised – speedy but unable to score or even hit the net in a high density scoring area. Still, that speed alone can be very useful to a team already well built that is just looking for an extra piece to put them over the top.
Boston has a decent forward group but Boyes can excel if put with the right players. When he was in Florida, Boyes was paired with youngsters Huberdeau and Bjugstad and played well. Perhaps if he is paired on a bottom line with Landon Ferraro, they can find similar success and depth scoring. Grabner is a toss-in but could stay with the B’s. He is far from the prototypical big, tough Bruin but he adds an element that they are lacking, which is speed. The playoffs are all about creating chances from speed so while his hands are made of stone and can’t score on a breakaway if the Stanley Cup was on the line, he can still be useful in creating a potential scoring chance that another linemate can finish. His Corsi has never been great but in a limited role I think he can thrive.
Expected Value: Anthony Camara, 5th round pick, 7th round pick, Max Talbot
Since his arrival to Toronto, expectations were sky high for the former 11th overall pick. However, it’s been a steady decline of performance from 2013 until now. Bernier now is notorious for slow starts, soft goals, and allowing goals at crucial close-game situations leading to a drop in team morale. The former Leafs starter is now in Mike Babcock’s doghouse and he performed very poorly in a two game “audition” for over half the league’s scouts and GMs, during a two game home stand at the Air Canada Centre this past week. A team with serious goaltending concerns looking to survive for the next few years until one of their goalie prospects is ready for the crease is the best fit for Bernier.
Calgary Flames/Edmonton Oilers
Both Alberta teams are in a similar goaltending situation where their current tandems consist of two backups (neither able to command the crease and run with it) and have a young goalie lurking but not ready yet (Jon Gillies for the Flames, Laurent Brossoit for the Oilers). Bernier at worst pushes whichever “starter” the team that trades for him chooses and at best becomes the consistent starter they need, as a change of scenery is all he needed.
Expected Value: Emile Poirier, 4th round pick, Mason Raymond from CGY; Mitchell Moroz prospect, 2nd round pick, Nikita Nikitin from EDM
The injury has hurt his potential audition and he likely won’t hit 50 points yet again but Bozak’s value still has gone up from last season, as he’s proven that he can succeed and put up points without Phil Kessel on his wing. The key to a deal happening would be if he waives his No Trade Clause; without that, no deal happens. A team that is ready to win both this season and the next few years is the perfect candidate.
Bozak could slide in to their 2nd or 3rd line centre role depending on which centres they value more. Bozak brings faceoffs, ability to play in all situations and is probably an improvement on their current 2nd line centre Cody Eakin. Pairing him with Patrick Sharp would be very exciting as Bozak is a very good setup man and Sharp has great goal scoring finish. The Stars will need to throw in Hemsky to clear some cap space to pull off the trade but they get to hold onto Bozak for at least two more years so he becomes more than just a rental.
Expected Value: Devin Shore, 2nd round pick, Ales Hemsky, Travis Moen
When Phaneuf was traded, perhaps it made Kadri worry he was next. The cleaning house of any evidence from the old management group meant that Kadri was one of the last players still with the Leafs. He was given ample time on the first line and struggled significantly, to the point where Leafs fans wondered whether Kadri is the player they would like moving forward in their top six. Lately, he has turned it around and has shown drastic improvement in other areas of his game that makes him such a valuable commodity. He is due for a new contract and the Leafs may not want to commit to him long-term. Perhaps the best decision is to trade him and get value for him before he becomes a free agent. Because he is an RFA, the team that acquires him gets initial rights to try and give him a new contract. A team looking to make a playoff run and looking for a very good 2nd line centre they can lock up long term is the perfect team to trade for Kadri.
Detroit Red Wings
Datysuk’s likely to retire when his next contract is up in 2017 or if not, he definitely won’t be as impactful if he stays another season or two which means the Wings will need someone to fill either his role or Dylan Larkin’s role, if he gets promoted to the 1st line. Kadri helps their playoff run this season and the Wings will have first dibs in the offseason to keep him for a while in Hockeytown. They will have a few contracts coming off the books which will help them should they decide to keep Kadri long-term.
The Leafs will only trade one of Bozak or Kadri, if they choose to trade a centre at all. It’s a lot more likely the Leafs will want to keep their first line centre and try to work out a deal themselves. But stranger things have happened, so don’t be too surprised if he gets dealt.
Expected Value: Anthony Mantha, 2nd round pick, Darren Helm
The best part of the weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline is the unexpectedness. Not one single rumour or report was sent out prior to both the Shawn Mathias trade and the Polak deal. Even for the Phaneuf trade, it all seemed to come together very suddenly to reporters, when it actually was being worked on for a while leading up to it. These are all rough predictions that easily could all be wrong but gives an idea of what these players have to offer to contenders, what teams might be interested, and what might be a ballpark return. February 29th is a day all Leafs fans have circled on their calendar and certainly will be an exciting and unpredictable day.