Another week, another 31 Thoughts laced with our Leafs fix. Awww sweet rumours, you’ll make us forget about the fact that most meaningful hockey of the year is being played without the Maple Leafs. Well, that’s not completely true, but we’ll take what we can get.
The Panthers have talked to a ton of people, including: St. Louis assistant GM Bill Armstrong, Montreal scout Sean Burke, former Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli, Boston executive director of player personnel John Ferguson, former Los Angeles assistant GM Michael Futa, Toronto assistant GM Laurence Gilman, former Philadelphia GM Ron Hextall, former Vancouver GM Mike Gillis, OHL London’s Mark Hunter, Montreal assistant GM Scott Mellanby, NBC’s Ed Olczyk and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes.
So Laurence Gilman is very much in the mix, as are former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., former AGM Mark Hunter, and if we want to go in the way back machine, former Leafs player Ed Olczyk is in the mix as well. I still can’t help but think Peter Chiarelli getting the job is the best outcome for the Leafs though.
Right now it seems like Mike Gillis could be the front runner, but Gilman has a real shot at the job, and if that’s the case there are some interesting AGM replacement options in this group as well, Futa being the name I’d want to draw the most attention to, but if Olczyk or Weekes are looking to move into Hockey Ops, both could be interesting options for Toronto as well. My guess is this is a three horse race between Gillis, Mellanby, and Chiarelli, and Gilman is more likely a candidate for the Coyotes.
Ekman-Larsson has seven years remaining at $8.25 million per season, and the team would like to test his marketplace. A no-move clause gives him control, but word is he’s not opposed to the idea pending the landing spot. It’s not an easy contract to handle at this time, but there are teams out there who believe Ekman-Larsson would be revitalized by a fresh start. Arizona has four other defenders — Jason Demers, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jordan Oesterle — with one year remaining on their contracts. All of them could help another team. Hjalmarsson, in particular, is much-loved around the league.
Okay so this isn’t a Leafs thought, but it is in the sense that the Leafs are a team that needs some defensive help. If the price is right on players like Demers or Hjalmarsson, it would be nice to see them as Leafs, but both come with a lot of injury concerns.
St. Louis and Alex Pietrangelo met this week as the grind begins on extension attempts in St. Louis. As I’ve said many times, I believe the captain wants to stay a Blue. But a couple of sources warned that it hasn’t been easy for Pietrangelo to see extensions elsewhere along the lineup (Justin Faulk, Marco Scandella, Brayden Schenn) while his talks completely stalled. A lot of emotion here, and that makes talks more difficult.
Again not really a Leafs thought, but damned if we aren’t all interested in what is happening with Pietrangelo. While I have next to zero hope of Pietroangelo becoming a Leaf, if no one is going to throw the Blues a life line, Pietrangelo could hit the market.
On the other hand, if the Leafs move on from Frederik Anderson, I wouldn’t mind the Leafs taking on Jake Allen’s contract along with a kicker to resolve their goaltending situation will likely getting rewarded for doing so.
The Carolina Hurricanes have interest in Frederik Andersen, but Toronto’s made it clear it has no desire to make a move just for the sake of change. If it happens, it’s for an upgrade, which means the Maple Leafs could wait to see how a loaded group of goaltending free agents shakes out.
Speaking of moving on from Andersen, here’s a potential landing spot. Now obviously the Leafs would love to get back their 13th overall pick, and would probably need to take one of the Canes goaltenders for doing so (preferably Mrazek because he’s better), but there are a lot of interesting roster players on the Canes that Leafs should be interested in as well, but I’d assume Pesce and Hamilton are off limits, obviously.
The Pittsburgh/Toronto trade surprised teams because they thought the Maple Leafs’ ask of a first-round pick and a prospect for Kasperi Kapanen was more of a “draft time” move than anything.
Most annoyed by the trade: the teams still playing, not really able to bid on a) Kapanen or b) the Penguins’ pick.
This is something that has honestly confused me for years. Why don’t non-playoff teams try to get more of a jump start on their offseason overhauls and set the market, build some panic in the competition, and reassure their fan bases. This year with the short gap between the cup being presented to training camps open makes this trade even more important, and if the Leafs waited they would have seen this deal dry up.
Unwilling to the pay the price for Kapanen, teams were asking Toronto what other forwards are available. Based on what I’m hearing, I don’t think William Nylander is going anywhere without a legit top-four right-handed defender coming in return. Filip Hallander was high on Toronto’s list when the Maple Leafs picked 52nd overall in 2018, although Toronto went with Sean Durzi — who went to Los Angeles in the Jake Muzzin deal. So it wasn’t a shocker that he’s the prospect they wanted from Pittsburgh.
I love the reassurances that Hallander was a big part of the return on Kapanen, and with Dubas being so high on him I’d wonder if he’ll have an honest shot at the roster this year, but that’s not the main part of this thought…
Nylander being worth a legitimate top four right handed defenseman has shades of Hall for Larsson all over it, and in that situation it’s pretty easy to pass on the idea of trading Nylander, even if you aren’t his biggest fan. I think “legit” is meant to imply the Leafs want either a young player already in the top four, or they want a top pairing RHD who might not necessarily be an All-Star. Either way, I think I can appreciate the hesitation on wanting to trade him as giving up a 30 goal scorer for a lackluster RHD for a second straight summer isn’t a good look for the Leafs.
The perception about Nylander is that he doesn’t care as much as other players. Maybe that’s true, but if him not caring results in what he produces, I’m fine with him being the way he is. Alex Kovalev had a very productive career with that reputation, and I see no reason why Willy can’t do the same.
Also, he probably cares a lot.
Pittsburgh is testing the market on Jared McCann, a surprising healthy scratch in the Montreal series.
I don’t know if the Leafs and Penguins will hook up again this offseason, but McCann is another former Greyhound who excelled under Keefe, and could potentially be an affordable solution as a bottom six center. McCann is an arbitration eligible restricted free agent that the Penguins value a little more than they valued Evan Rodrigues.
If you are looking for more on Andersen, Hallander, and Nylander, check out the posts below: