It’s been a revolving door of players in Toronto this season. From injuries and suspensions to the recent trades leading up to this year’s NHL Trade Deadline, the Maple Leafs are showing their fans (and the league) just what it means to go through the pain of a full tilt rebuild.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Leafs have managed to rid themselves of a crippling contract while moving a number of other veterans – clearing up more cap space as they continue to resurrect one of the league’s oldest franchises.
But with the deadline just under a week away, the Maple Leafs likely aren’t done just yet. With more veteran contracts on the roster and the Leafs sitting near the bottom of the league, the overhaul in Toronto isn’t even close to being done. With that being said, here are a few players that could finish the season in a different jersey.
Parenteau seems like the most obvious candidate to be traded by the Maple Leafs. After all, he’s record 16 goals for the Buds so far this season and isn’t locked in beyond this season. That was the goal when Leafs management signed numerous veterans to one-year contracts this past offseason – hope they can produce and move them for future pieces at the deadline.
At the age of 32, Parenteau’s had a resurgence of sorts in Toronto. After recording just 22 points (8g-14a) in 56 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, the pending unrestricted free agent has notched 32 points (16g-16a) in 59 games with the Leafs this season.
The increase in offensive production is in large part thanks to the confidence the coaching staff has shown in him. On top of that, Parenteau is seeing more ice time and routinely has an opportunity to play on Toronto’s powerplay. For a team looking to make a push, Parenteau could be a solid pick-up at the deadline adding veteran presence in the dressing room as well as some depth production to any lineup.
Komarov was the lone all-star this year for the Maple Leafs. With 35 points (18g-17a) in 56 games, it’s easily his best season in the NHL and he’s been rewarded in Toronto and by the league for his upgrade in offensive output.
So why would the Leafs even consider trading Komarov in the middle of his career year? Why not? If the Leafs are ever going to move the 29-year-old, the time would be now. His stock will never be higher and with his cap hit at $2.95-million through 2017-18 season, he’ll be easier to move than some of the other Leaf forwards.
Komarov used to trade chatter: "It’s my 3rd year here so you know there’s always rumours, but it’s actually fun to watch sometimes too."
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 27, 2016
Even though the return wouldn’t be top notch (like it would be for some of the other NHL all-stars) the Leafs would likely get the best trade value out of the third-year forward with the way he’s played this season. His work ethic is evident. He finds a way to stay out of the penalty box (most of the time) while still playing an unbelievably physical game. And now, he’s been able to add some offence to his game.
So is a second or third-round pick and a prospect getting too greedy? The fact is, when the Leafs core from the Marlies starts to take over the big club, Komarov won’t have the same role on this club. That will likely take place in the next two years (the final two years of his contract with Toronto). If the team doesn’t take advantage of his play this season and move him at the deadline, the window for a Komarov trade might shut and lock down a lot faster than some might think.
Yes – he is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. But chances are Kadri will be asking for a pay increase from his $4.1-million he was paid by the Leafs in 2015-16. But does he deserve it?
Kadri’s certainly grown as a player. He’s learned to adapt defensively under Mike Babcock and how to control the puck in the face-off circle. In no way should that be taken away from the veteran forward. At 25, Kadri’s still a young player. He still has the ability to grow and improve his game. But in 57 games this season, he has just 11 goals and 33 points to go along with a minus-four rating. That’s not exactly what you want from your number one centre.
Toronto has a number of prospects who will be looking to make the jump over the next couple of season and it’ll be hard to convince Kadri to sign another “prove-yourself” one-year contract. Even more to that point, it’ll be hard to get him to sign a contract with $4.1-million or less – which he likely deserves.
The future of the Leafs is not Kadri. The future revolves around William Nylander, Connor Brown, Mitch Marner and Travis Dermott. So why not shop the former seventh overall pick? See what the market’s like for a guy like Kadri and if a deal seems like it’ll improve the future of the franchise, then dive in and make the move. That’s what it means to rebuild.
Eventually pieces will have to be given up to improve the future of the team. While it’s the first year of the complete overhaul in Toronto, it may mean moving some of the better pieces from this year’s roster. I may mean saying goodbye to guys like Komarov and Kadri to make room for the future.
For more, you can check out THW’s trade deadline coverage or follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.
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.