Before the trade deadline, I wrote about how the Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes could make a major move with Conor Garland being a piece in a deal. His name came up in trade talks very quickly. Fast-forward to today and it appears that Garland’s name is coming up more in the rumour mill.
In his first post at Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli lists Garland fourth on his trade targets list for the summer. The fact that talks have stalled is a major signal that Garland could be on his way out of Arizona.
The Maple Leafs have to make some transactions in order to fix their forward depth situation. With $10.85 million in cap space, they need to make every move count. They are in a position where they can look to acquire and extend him to a contract that would probably benefit both Garland and the Maple Leafs.
Coyotes in Danger of Losing Key Player
After selecting Garland in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL draft, it looked as if the Coyotes had drafted a strong prospect in what was a deep draft. With 96 points in 164 games early on his career, he’s shown that he can provide a strong presence as a middle-six forward.
After finishing third in team scoring this season with 39 points, things continue to get worse with the organization as one of their key contributor’s isn’t happy with how things are unfolding. With the possibility of Oliver Ekman Larsson being traded, the Coyotes really can’t afford to lose someone like Garland who is a big part of their offense.
In his post, Seravalli writes, “The Coyotes have not treated Garland like the player who was the heartbeat of their team. Garland’s camp, led by agent Peter Cooney, submitted two contract proposals (as requested by the club) on May 20 and there has been zero communication or dialogue since.”
While I initially thought of Garland as a potential trade target, it was later reported that Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was trying to acquire him. This makes acquiring him a second time around likely as the Maple Leafs could be aggressive in pursuing him once again.
There hasn’t been any traction in trying to get a deal done in order to keep Garland in the fold. With his upside and being a restricted free agent, if the Coyotes aren’t willing to sign him, then it’s certain that he could be dealt as a result. He’s currently a restricted free agent coming off a two-year deal worth $775,000 per season. While it hasn’t been reported on his asking price, he is definitely a player that can be had in the $3- $4 million range. If you’re the Maple Leafs, this is the kind of contract you want; a player that’s capable or providing some strong secondary scoring.
If Alexander Kerfoot is still with the team after the expansion draft and are still looking to move his $3.5 million contract, he could be a roster player that can be involved in a deal for Garland. Dubas has stated in the past that he was willing to deal a top prospect. While that may not be the case for a player like Garland, the Maple Leafs could look to move other key prospects in their system like Mikhail Abramov or throwing in a second or mid-round pick.
Garland Has Good Underlying Numbers
Garland’s play speaks for itself as he’s a big driver in possession with an offensive mindset every time he’s on the ice.
He’s especially dangerous in the high danger area as he’s able to either drive the net and use his quick hands in tight or get a quick shot off. At five-on-five with a minimum of 200 minutes played, Garland ranks second on the Coyotes in high danger chances for percentage with 53.88.
The following is a table of Garland’s numbers against elite level competition in his career. The data was taken from PuckIQ, as it’s a great source for players against all types of competition.
|Season||TOI%||Corsi For %||Goals For %|
While the percentage of time against elite competition is low, Garland has faired well, showing that he can hold his own in the offensive zone. He managed to have a CF% above average in 2018-19 and 2019-20, while having a staggering 73.7 GF% in 2019-20. That was a breakout season where he had 22 goals and 39 points.
In 2020-21, those numbers took a hit, as the Coyotes were very inconsistent and average when it came to offensive production as they had a CF% of 48.75 and 98 GF this season (27thoverall in that category) at five-on-five. Garland managed to match his offensive output from last season with 39 points in 49 games, finishing third in team scoring. If this was adjusted for 82-games, he would’ve surpassed his projected 46 points last season with 58, a good projection considering the Coyotes’ team numbers.
His numbers against middle competition is where most of his damage is done offensively over his career as there’s an increase in TOI%, CF% and GF%.
His numbers against middle competition look more impressive. If we’re looking at 2020-21, it’s better compared to elite competition, which could attribute to how he was deployed in that second line role, as his TOI% is much higher. In 2019-20, his numbers were lower, but that season is where he also faced a high percentage of elite competition.
Garland had a strong season despite minimal time playing against elite players. That number dropped this season but he maintained his production at a respectable pace against middle competition. He’s solidified himself as a great top-six or even middle-six option on any team, including the Maple Leafs as they look to retool their forward group.
Garland Is What Maple Leafs Need
If Garland ends up with the Maple Leafs he can easily fit in on the second line. Given his speed and shot, he’s going to make a significant impact generating quality scoring chances and producing at a relatively great offensive pace in a top-six role. Even if they put him in the bottom-six, it would add great balance as they would have another scoring threat on the third line.
With Zach Hyman’s tenure with the Maple Leafs in jeopardy and roster spots needing to be filled, Garland could serve as a complimentary replacement for him, while playing either the left or right side. He can provide the same kind of offensive output and energy that Hyman had and would be an upgrade over Alex Galchenyuk in a top-six role.
Dubas was in on Garland prior to the trade deadline. He knows he has an opportunity to fill out his forward depth with a strong option for the team’s top-six. Garland plays with a high compete level, something the Maple Leafs could use after another early exit from the playoffs. Will Dubas land a significant player with an offensive touch? It’s very possible.
Statistics from PuckIQ, Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference. Cap information from CapFriendly.