If there was one thing that seemed to largely survive the transition from Lou Lamoriello to Kyle Dubas, it’s the decision to keep trade talks relatively quiet. Dots can still be connected, but it’s not so much the open book of the Burke and Nonis eras. It will surprise no one that the Leafs are looking for defensemen, and that they are looking for a backup goaltender. Those dots have been pretty well established, the same can also be said for the names of the Leafs players that teams are seeking out, and the most likely Leafs to be offered up to the trade gods.
Dreger: And the Battle of Alberta may drift off the ice as well because the Edmonton Oilers are also looking for a top-six forward. Not sure about the Flames but I believe the Edmonton Oilers are going to pay close attention to what happens with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Again, speculation around the likes of Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, maybe Alex Kerfoot. And another team to watch? The Minnesota Wild. I’m told that Bill Guerin is open for business and part of the trade bait list could include veteran defenceman Mathew Dumba.
From James Mirtle of The Athletic regarding Alexandar Georgiev:
Both teams have kept trade talks quiet, so specifics are somewhat lacking. But it’s believed that the Leafs are willing to part with futures – including someone like AHLer Jeremy Bracco – in order to land Georgiev. The Rangers, however, are asking for more established players, presumably, the likes of Leafs forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson or Alexander Kerfoot.
That’s going to be a no-go for Toronto, especially in a 1-for-1 scenario. While the Leafs would potentially move a forward like that to upgrade on their blue line in the coming weeks, it doesn’t make much sense for them to give up one of their primary trade chips for a goaltender who may only play a handful of games for the rest of the season.
So, first things first before doubling back to Kerfoot, Johnsson, and Kapanen, I am in complete agreement to not deal a top six winger for a backup goaltender, even one as good as Georgiev may be. I do think that a deal that included Georgiev plus a draft pick or prospect could be intriguing, but then you have to ask yourself why would the Rangers be giving up futures at this point?
Additionally from Dreger’s report, I can’t stress enough how much I support going down the Mathew Dumba road and here’s the link to a post specifically dealing with that.
It seems that Johnsson, Kapanen or Kerfoot has become this season’s Brown, Bracco, and a 2nd. Any and all trades involving the Leafs must include at least one of those components, and while it seemed that Johnsson and Kapanen were on that list from the beginning, Kerfoot has crept his way into the picture, which is only further illustrating that Leafs probably should have kept Kadri.
Here’s the breakdown on those assets:
So here’s the thing that we can immediately takeaway from that and it’s that Kapanen is far and away the best of the three assets. He’s younger, faster, cheaper, more consistent. He’s capable of generating his own offense and is on pace for a better season than the other two. If the Leafs are chasing a premium asset (i.e. Matt Dumba) he’s the name we’re talking about. If the Leafs are toying around in the rental market or chasing premium backup goaltenders, well, I guess we can talk Kerfoot and Johnsson.
Johnsson’s output numbers have dipped largely due to his injury, but there is no ignoring the rate drop-offs as well this season. He’s playing regularly in the top six instead of being a third line staple, and perhaps facing tougher competition is slowing him down a little in those regards, and competing with Matthews, Tavares, Marner and Nylander for point share is an uphill battle. That being said, that he has held steady with strong Corsi For % and grown his expected goals for % significantly shows that he is a top six talent, and the results will come.
Of the three he’d probably be the player generating the least amount of interest because of his production and is probably the player of the three the Leafs would have the most difficulty generating interest in.
As for Kerfoot, well, he’s pretty much what he was advertised to be and he’s keeping pace with what he did last year in Colorado, while also adding a lot more centering duties to his resume. If there is another team out there who sees him as a potential center or want that flexibility to use him there sometimes, he might have the greatest appeal of the group, but let’s be honest, the most appealing is still Kapanen, even with the dip in expected goals for %.
The reality of the situation is that Pierre Engvall emerging has made at least one of these three players more expendable. Similar arguments can be made for having Ilya Mikheyev panning out, and Jason Spezza still having gas in his take this season. While trading all three of Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot would likely be excessive, if deals can be found to benefit the Leafs using these assets, selling seems like a solid avenue, especially with Johnsson’s value already trending in same manner we witnessed with Connor Brown.
There is also something to consider in the fact that the Leafs are not under any immediate pressure to pull the trigger on any deal involving these players. They are all good forwards who can help the Leafs in the playoffs, and the trade off is simply the defense will be a little worse. They can all be shopped at the draft, over the summer, or report back to the Leafs next season and we can enjoy another year of wonderful wing depth.
That said, I’d still put money on at least one of these players wearing a different jersey in March.