Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Lamoriello, Meier, Greig & ZAR

As the Toronto Maple Leafs prepare to play the Ottawa Senators tonight, a number of news pieces have emerged over the past few days. In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share some of them.

Item One: Lamoriello’s Islanders Are Struggling

The New York Islanders had an unsuccessful trip through Ontario this past week. In fact, they are riding a six-game losing streak (their record is 0-4-2). Islanders’ president and general manager Lou Lamoriello noted after the Senators’ game that he’s taking full responsibility for the difficulties the Islanders’ are having as a team.

Related: Was Lou Lamoriello as Good as Maple Leafs Fans Remember?

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Lamoriello admitted to reporters that “There are no excuses.” He added, “Because it’s on me, totally on me. That’s my responsibility to make us the best we possibly can be and to make whatever changes we can. That’s not on the coaching staff, that’s not on the players, and I take that responsibility” (from “Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello says it’s ‘on me’ to make the team better,” Kevin Kurz, The Athletic, 25/ 01/2022).

General manager Lou Lamoriello
When Lou Lamoriello was with the Toronto Maple Leafs
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Islanders have been struggling since Lamoriello fired Barry Trotz in May 2022. That’s not to say missing Trotz is the only issue the Islanders have this season. There seem to be many, but good on Lamoriello for taking responsibility. Many Maple Leafs’ fans wish he were still in charge in Toronto.

Item Two: Why the Maple Leafs Should Not Trade for Timo Meier

Recently, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman joined Tim & Friends to discuss the latest trade deadline rumors. Among the conversations was whether the Maple Leafs were serious players in the Timo Meier sweepstakes. He doesn’t believe that they are. In part, Friedman believes that bringing Meier to Toronto would be “incredibly complicated.” 

As a result of these complications, Friedman is not convinced that trading for Meier is something the organization would want to do. In fact, he believes that it’s more wishful thinking on the part of Maple Leafs’ fans (and writers, it seems) than a real-life possibility.

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As Friedman noted, “There are a lot of fans who would like to see Timo Meier on the Leafs. I think that is an incredibly complicated deal to make for Toronto. I think he would be a great fit there, but I am not convinced that is what they (the Maple Leafs) want.”

Friedman believes that the Maple Leafs don’t have “a ton of cap room or assets.” He also believes the team’s intent was to get a defenseman like Jake Muzzin; however, their solid defense might have changed that plan (for the best). He also doesn’t believe they would trade Matthew Knies for a rental. If he were to leave, it would be for much more than a one-off player.

I agree that Meier should not be a trade target if he’s to become a rental. Even if the Sharks retain part of his salary, the cost would be too much for the Maple Leafs. However, the biggest problem would be what happens next season. Even if they trade both Alex Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall, the question about keeping Meier is crucial. And the cost is prohibitive.

The organization must consider the potential long-term implications of acquiring Meier. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent after this season; and, according to the Daily Faceoff, he’s due a $10 million qualifying offer. 

Timo Meier San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I doubt that Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas would be willing to move significant players for Meier and then let him walk. He’s too good of a player; and, he’s in his prime. If he is acquired, he should be kept long-term. That said, I’m skeptical that the Maple Leafs would be willing to make the necessary moves to fit Meier’s salary under the cap.

Meier’s salary would be too high. As a result, I just don’t believe he’s a logical option as a top-six player for the Maple Leafs regardless of how many hockey fans and writers talk about such a Maple Leafs/Sharks trade.

Item Three: Ridly Greig Is a Young Senators’ Player to Watch

When the Senators play the Maple Leafs tonight, one player fans should keep an eye on is Lethbridge, Alberta, native Ridly Greig. The 20-year-old center had a successful NHL debut against the Islanders on Wednesday. 

Greig fired eight shots on the net and was credited with a power-play assist on the game-winning goal scored by Claude Giroux. Given his deployment, it seems the Senators have high expectations for the youngster. 

Related: Ex-Maple Leaf Jack Campbell & His Season with the Oilers

Greig could become a key contributor with the Senators now that Josh Norris is out for the season. He’s likely to see significant playing time in the top six and on the power play. As well, he played with Giroux, his hockey idol as a child, and Alex DeBrincat. That makes life easier.

After the Islanders’ game, Greig noted that “It was unreal … obviously, a dream come true just to get out there and obviously to get the win it’s pretty good.”

Senators coach D.J. Smith noted that Greig has a “really high” hockey sense. Smith added that Greig “can skate. He’s really competitive. He’s a hockey player. He’s going to be a really good hockey player, it’s just over time is he ready now or not. I’ll tell you tonight he was effective.”

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It seems that Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe is trying to motivate his bottom-six units by creating competition for playing time. Recently he brought up ​​Joey Anderson and slotted him into veteran Zach Aston-Reese’s spot in the lineup. Aston-Reese was a healthy scratch.

Zach Aston-Reese Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Aston-Reese, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Keefe noted that “It keeps those guys on their toes as well … those guys are in competition for their spots.” For me, it’s been fun to see the young players get a chance to play. I have been enjoying Pontus Holmberg and Conor Timmins, especially.

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