As always, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the news. There is much speculation about trades, and I’m curious to imagine how general manager Kyle Dubas might creatively construct a new roster in the face of a menacing salary cap. This review of news and
Item One: Andreas Johnsson Interested in Signing
Although the focus has been mostly on what it might take for the Maple Leafs to sign Marner, there are other players the team would like to sign. Certainly, Andreas Johnsson is one of them. Clearly, Johnsson has the potential to become a Maple Leafs star. He had a 20-goal season in 2018-19 and, if he played consistently on the team’s top six, he’s likely to score considerably more.
Johnsson notes that he’s open to a deal but it seems he’s not getting too involved with the details. As he said, “The agents and the organization have to talk about that.” He added, “Whatever would work best for both (sides).”
In late April, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Maple Leafs made an offer of four years with a $2.6 million cap hit. A two-year deal with a $2.1 million cap hit was also made. Both were rejected.
Item Two: Other Teams Express Interest in Mason Marchment
In my May 15 post, I wrote about the continuing growth of the Toronto Marlies Mason Marchment. On May 17, Jacob Stoller of The Leafs Nation also wrote about Marchment and added some information I hadn’t learned from my research.
Specifically, Stoller reported that a number of NHL sources confirmed that the Maple Leafs had fielded calls about Marchment just prior to the trade deadline. Obviously, Marchment has drawn interest from teams because of his play. During the Marlies’ series with the Cleveland Monsters, Marchment played well, both offensively and defensively, and helped the Marlies sweep the Monsters.
As Marchment noted, “I think it just all came together.” Obviously, it did. And, he didn’t stop with that series. On Friday, May 17, Marchment’s goal during the first minute of the third period was the winner as the Marlies edged the Charlotte Checkers 2-1 in Game 1 of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final.
Item Three: Teams with Cap Space That Might Be Trading Partners
Certainly, the Maple Leafs must trade away salary. But, for a trade to lighten the team’s salary cap issue, the team simply cannot trade salary for salary. Their trading partner must assume more salary from the Maple Leafs than they move back. That can only happen if the Maple Leafs work with a team that has considerable salary cap space.
James Tanner of Editor in Leaf did a quick review of potential Maple Leafs trade partners who meet that criterion. He lists four teams that have significant salary cap space: the Detroit Red Wings, the Arizona Coyotes, the Ottawa Senators, and the New Jersey Devils.
As Tanner notes, the Red Wings are rebuilding and will probably be bad next year. However, they might take a gamble on Nikita Zaitsev.
The Coyotes, he notes, always have cap space open. So, if Patrick Marleau could be talked into it, the team might be able to move him to the Coyotes. Marleau has an interesting contract because, although it takes up significant cap space, most of that contract is paid in two signing bonuses. If the Maple Leafs paid those signing bonuses, there’s little money owing on Marleau’s contract. A team with cap space could carry Marleau’s contract without shelling out its own money and might do so if the Maple Leafs tossed in a player with value. Might Marleau consider
The Senators have little chance of making the playoffs, so might take a salary like Marleau’s off the Maple Leafs’ books if the Maple Leafs threw in draft picks or prospects.
Tanner notes that the Devils will have star-level players on entry-level contracts and might assume a bad contract from the Maple Leafs for a player like Kasperi Kapanen, who would help them now. That said, dumping Kapanen for salary cap seems wrong to me.
Item Four: Maple Leafs Trade Bait
TSN’s Frank Seravalli created an offseason trade bait board of 15 players he felt are most likely to be traded this summer. That board has a distinct Maple Leafs aroma. At the top of the list was former Maple Leafs player Phil Kessel, whose time with the Pittsburgh Penguins is now on life support. After an early dismissal from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it seems clear the Penguins’ lineup will change over the summer.
Two current Maple
The second player on the list is defenseman Zaitsev, at number 12. Zaitsev has five years left on his contact with a cap hit of $4.5 million. He had a good playoff series, and might bring something back on a trade. He has value, but the Maple Leafs might have to throw in another player to make his contract more palatable to another team. What are the chances former Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello, who signed the defenseman to that contract, might want Zaitsev on the New York Islanders roster?
For those interested, here is Seravalli’s list of 15 trade-likely players.
1. Phil Kessel
2. Jacob Trouba
3. Ryan Callahan
4. Jason Zucker
5. P.K. Subban
6. Michael Frolik
7. Connor Brown
8. Kyle Turris
9. Kevin Shattenkirk
10. Artemi Panarin (rights)
11. Travis Hamonic
12. Nikita Zaitsev
13. Olli Maatta
14. Colin Miller
15. Milan Lucic
Item Five: Nylander Is Playing Well at the World Championships
It’s not like William Nylander hasn’t played well at hockey’s World Championships before. In fact, during the 2017 World
At this World Championships, he’s also scoring well. After four games, he’s tied for second in the tournament with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) with Michael Frolik and Jakub
Related – NHL Rumors: Spezza, Maple Leafs, More
The Marlies continue their playoff run over the next week. That they beat the Checkers on the road speaks to the team’s strong play. Because the Maple Leafs have some players in this series, it will be fun to watch how the finals proceed. Perhaps under the radar is Sheldon Keefe’s coaching. He’s obviously doing something right.