Today, Stephen from Editor In Leaf proposed a trade where the Toronto Maple Leafs move Frederik Andersen to the Carolina Hurricanes for right-shot defenseman Dougie Hamilton. I have two thoughts about this trade proposal.
First, it’s typical of what we’ve heard regarding Andersen. Rumors are ramping up that he’ll soon be gone. Second, if general manager Kyle Dubas could make that trade, I think he would do it quickly.
Dubas Stirred the Pot with the Kasperi Kapanen Trade
Dubas stirred the pot when he moved Kasperi Kapanen early in the Maple Leafs’ offseason. That trade seemed to immediately fuel speculation that management wasn’t done dealing as they try to improve the team’s top weakness: defense.
In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I want to take a look around at some of the rumors about Andersen and to assess how accurate they might be.
What Have We Heard about Andersen’s Leaving?
The first thing we know about a possible Andersen trade is that hockey insiders believe it will happen, and they often get it so wrong it’s laughable. On the other hand, they often nail it. Mostly, however, what we hear falls somewhere between those two spectrums.
And, Chris Johnston Says?
Concerning Andersen, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that there’s real interest in the Maple Leafs goalie and it’s increasing. In fact, Andersen has reportedly heard the trade buzz and might be preparing himself to leave.
Related: Worst Toronto Maple Leafs Trades
During a Sept. 2 radio interview on SN590, Johnston reported:
“I think there’s a good chance Freddy isn’t playing in Toronto next season. Teams have interest and the Leafs are taking the calls. Even heard from Andersen’s side that Freddy seems to be preparing as if he won’t be back with Toronto.”
And, Elliotte Friedman Says?
Elliotte Friedman confirmed that Andersen’s name is churning in the trade rumor mill. He noted specifically that the Hurricanes are interested.
Recently Friedman wrote: “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.”
Friedman is one of many analysts who believe Andersen is available. Other rumors have hinted that Dubas might be willing to move the goaltender because he wants to replace him with a better option and as a way to free salary-cap space.
If that’s so, Friday’s rumor regarding Andersen for Hamilton might not make sense. Andersen’s cap hit is $5 million for next season and Hamilton’s is $5.75 for next season (both are on contracts that expire after 2020-21).
One question Maple Leafs fans might wonder about is whether Dubas would prefer to move out salary and sign a free agent defenseman or whether he hopes to make a trade that moves player-for-player and also moves salary-for-salary. Logic suggests that he’d be better to trade player-for-player (and salary-for-salary) than free up cap space to sign a UFA. But, that’s my opinion and, as I’ve often noted, I’m not an insider.
And, James Mirtle Says?
Last week, The Athletic’s James Mirtle weighed in on what he’d heard about the Maple Leafs’ plans. He believed Andersen could be acquired for a “useful” but low-cost asset, which suggests that Dubas would move Andersen to clear up cap space, (from “Kyle Dubas begins Leafs offseason with clean win. And he’s not done yet,” The Athletic, 25/08/20).
Talk of a looming Andersen trade became so persistent that Andersen’s agent Claude Lemieux felt the need to comment. He reported that his client had “absolutely not” asked for a trade. However, whether Andersen has asked to be traded or whether Dubas is making him available, the overall speculation is that Andersen is on the market.
Why Andersen Is An Attractive Trade Possibility
There’s no question Andersen is a good goalie. Some nights he’s brilliant and can steal a game, other nights he seems off his game. However, if he remains the team’s goalie, will he be able to lead them on a successful Stanley Cup run.
The second question might be the timing. With one season left on his contract, should he be traded now? If the Maple Leafs keep him and he has a great season in 2020-21 on an expiring contract, does that drive his salary so high that he’d be difficult to re-sign? Would the Maple Leafs then be forced to let him walk? Given these questions, isn’t now the best time to move him?
The Maple Leafs have two things going for them insofar as moving Andersen. First, the free-agent market is flooded with capable goalies and it’s likely a good time for Dubas to pick one up cheaply.
Second, Andersen is appealing to many teams whose pockets are not nearly as deep as the Maple Leafs’ because – in real salary – Andersen will only earn $1 million this season. He has a $5 million cap hit, but the Maple Leafs have already paid $4 million of that salary in a signing bonus.
The team acquiring Andersen would only have to pony up for a portion of his total salary. If he is moved to clear up cap space, a cash-strapped team like the Ottawa Senators might become players. How would Mark Borowiecki look in a Maple Leafs uniform?
What’s Next in These Andersen Rumors?
As Johnston noted, things seem to be pointing to Andersen being moved. He also believes this offseason would be a good time for the Maple Leafs to move him because he can be easily replaced. The question for Dubas is whether he’ll try to make it a cap-neutral trade or create cap space and sign a free agent defenseman.
Whatever happens, Johnston suggested such a move might not happen any time soon. Andersen’s future probably won’t be revealed until the NHL moves into the free agency period.
That said, rumors that the Hurricanes are kicking Dubas’ tires suggest the organization believes neither former Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer nor Petr Mrazek can help their team win a Stanley Cup. Furthermore, because the Hurricanes had good luck in 2019-20 with Toronto Zamboni-driver and emergency backup goalie David Ayres, could the Hurricanes see Andersen as a long-term fix?