The day known to Maple Leafs fans and former employees as “Bloody Sunday” marked the first major steps in the club’s attempt at a full-scale rebuild. With that, however, the team is likely looking to move some of their veteran players in the hopes of building a solid core that can compete for years to come.
While there’s no clear idea on who the Leafs will retain and who they’ll look to move over the coming months, but some of their contracts may be more moveable than others. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the Maple Leafs that could be on the trading block this summer.
At the 2014-15 NHL Trade Deadline, there were many who thought the Leafs would move captain Dion Phaneuf. The deadline passed and the Maple Leafs still had number three on their roster.
But, like many believed, it wasn’t his contract that kept him a Leaf. In fact, according to former general manager – Dave Nonis – as many as five teams showed interest in Phaneuf leading up to the deadline.
The problem? It was the asking price the Leafs were dangling around that most teams just weren’t interested in dealing with. In fact, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that Nonis was asking for 20-year-old Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings – which seemed to be the closest the Leafs came to making a deal.
So what makes the offensive-minded defenceman an eligible candidate to be traded in the offseason? While he did have a dismal year – including a career-low three goals – the entire Leafs team had similar problems. However, if the Maple Leafs are willing to retain a percentage of the remaining four years, Phaneuf could be moved for a prospect and pick or a lower-end player and a higher ranked prospect.
2014-15 Stats: 70 GP, 3 G, 26 A, 29 PTS, -11, 108 PIMs, 2 PPG, 1 GWG 23:43 TOI/G
Another player who’s name was brought up during the season as a possible deadline acquisition was Tyler Bozak. Once again, his name will be circling the hockey world as a player worth taking note of. No, he won’t play the same role on most other franchises – the role of a first-line centre – but he is considered a solid second-line middle man.
A tough opponent in the face-off circle, Bozak is a good candidate for teams struggling with defensive zone face-offs. For the Maple Leafs in 2014-15, his defensive zone start percentage was just slightly higher than his offensive zone start at 51 percent. While his numbers from this season certainly don’t spell out superstar, he could be a good addition to numerous clubs looking to deepen their roster.
[ALSO SEE: Maple Leafs Trade Bait – Tyler Bozak]
Bozak also has a cap hit of $4.2-million over the next two seasons – a relatively affordable contract if the Maple Leafs should choose to move the 29-year-old.
2014-15 Stats: 82 GP, 23 G, 26 A, 49 PTS, -34, 44 PIMs, 12 PPG, 2 SHG, 3 GWG, 19:09 TOI/G
Having scored a career-high five goals in his first year with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Roman Polak spent the last number of games on the team’s injury reserve. While Polak’s play did mirror that of the Leafs entire team, he’s still looked at as a solid defensive-minded defenceman.
Rumours swirled at the deadline that Polak’s former team – the St. Louis Blues – were interested in re-acquiring him. While that trade clearly never happened, the fact that Polak is a coveted defenceman give the Maple Leafs the option of moving him if something should catch their attention.
Roman Polak on reports Blues interested in him at trade deadline: "It would be kind of awkward to go back"
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 7, 2015
Now, Polak would be a good veteran to help the Leafs in their rebuilding process, but if his return measured up to the team’s need, we could see the 28-year-old on the move.
2014-15 Stats: 56 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 PTS, -22, 48 PIMs, 1 GWG, 21:05 TOI/G
The often mentioned Joffrey Lupul should be considered as one of the most likely candidates to be moved this offseason. The 31-year-old does play hard and seems to always give the clichéd 110 percent when he’s on the ice. However, that often leads to stint after stint on the team’s injured reserve.
With that in mind, the Maple Leafs shouldn’t be expecting much in return if they do decide to move Lupul. On top of that, the forward is signed for two more years with a cap hit of $5.25-million – a lot more than most franchises would like to pay for a player who’s averaged just 62 games over the past two seasons (only 75 percent of the team’s games).
Could he be moved this offseason? Sure. But the Maple Leafs are likely going to receive a lower-round pick and possibly a lower-grade prospect. If they are able to move Lupul, it’ll be to clear up cap room moving forward.
2014-15 Stats: 55 GP, 10 G, 11 A, 21 PTS, -10, 26 PIMs, 2 PPG, 1 GWG, 15:29 TOI/G
Here’s a familiar name on the Maple Leafs trade-worthy candidates – James Reimer. Prior to signing a two-year extension with the Leafs, many believed the goaltender would be on the move from Toronto. Instead, he returned to the Leafs with the promise of more playing time. Under coaches Randy Carlyle and Peter Horacheck, that simply did not happen.
With the Leafs now in rebuild mode and Jonathan Bernier expressing his interest in being a part of the rebuild, could that mean that Optimus Reim is on his way out of the big city?
James Reimer knows there will be a lot of change to the Leafs this off-season. Said he doesn't know whether or not he'll be back (or dealt).
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) April 13, 2015
While his win percentage may not show it, Reimer actually had an average year statistically speaking. On average, he faced just under 29 shots per game and managed to maintain a .907 save percentage and a goals against average just over three.
Regardless, Reimer is someone that certainly makes a difference in the locker room. While he did call out teammates – as well as himself – earlier this season, he did it with respect for each and every one of the guys in the room.
Never got a chance to see James Reimer today in Leafs wrap up. Wanted to tell him what a pro he has been under very trying circumstances,
— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) April 13, 2015
It won’t be easy for the Leafs to let go of this kind of presence in the room, but after seeing the resurgence of Devan Dubnyk in Minnesota, one can only imagine the Leafs goaltender would like another chance.
2014-15 Stats: 35 GP, 9 W, 16 L, 1 OTL, .907 sv%, 3.16 GAA
Now, there is certainly no guarantee that the Maple Leafs are in the market to trade any of these five names, but there are going to be changes in Leaf Land after a dismal 2014-15 campaign. For some, it won’t be easy to part ways with some of these long-time Leafs, but only time will tell how the team and Brendan Shanahan will look to start the rebuilding process.
For more, follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or his THW column at @Tape2TapeTHW.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.