We are just over 10 games played in the 2016-2017 and one thing is clear that the pain is far from over. The Leafs can score goals and put shots on net but it seems they can’t defend against quality scoring chances. Too many weak plays by both the defense and back checking forwards. Too many odd man rushes against. So what do the Leafs do? The answer is let the team play and get better, you don’t need to make a big trade for a big name defenseman because its not a rush. This off season there is a bunch of UFA defenseman available and the Leafs could pick one up there, well thats easier said than done…
Big name or quality players are hard to sign in free agency so do you hold out and hope you get a shot? Do you wait on trading some older or young offensive talent for a stud on the back end? After all they might not be available if you wait or if they are available the price may go WAY UP. The usual names are always floating around on what players are available from other teams but lets take a look at who may be available from the Leafs.
James van Riemsdyk
Still young at 27 years old JVR could be on the block if there was a big name or top 5 drafted defenseman coming back. Just for fun I would put him in a deal for a Olli Juolevi “type” player from Vancouver. It would have to be a top end talent to move JVR given his age, production and economical salary for this season and next. Leafs management will need to look around and see if there is a team(like Vancouver) who could use some offence and is looking to compete now for a playoff spot.
Percent he is traded? 10-15%
Bozak is a good 2 way center who is solid at faceoffs, has a very good cap hit for the next 2 seasons and plays both sides of the puck very well. On a contending team as a #2 or #3 center he will be an amazing pick up. He will most likely NOT be traded because he offers so much experience for this young Leafs lineup, but if he starts to pick up his game he could be a trade target like he is every year come trade deadline time.
Percent he is traded? 25-30%
Leo….. I think its time for uncle Leo to get moved, he is 29 years old and has a good salary for 2 more years. So far this season he has under performed which could hurt his trade value, so hopefully his play picks up before the deadline to entice a team to take a chance on him as he still can play a hard nosed offensive style. Another reason I think its time to move him is because the Leafs are bringing up players who play a similar game to him and are 10 years younger, faster, stronger with and without the puck and can out shoot/match his shooting. Examples are guys like Brown, Leipsic and Hyman. Hopefully he does get traded to make room on the big club for one of the young guys waiting to get called up like Leipsic or Kapanen.
Percent he is traded? 50% but i hope it gets higher as the season progresses.
Now don’t get mad because I put Kadri on the list, I don’t think he will be moved or very little chance he does. I’ve heard a few rumors and small rumblings every once in a while and the only reason he would get traded is because the Leafs have players who can all play center in Matthews, Marner and Nylander who could fill that position and Kadri has a decent trade value. Unless its Kadri plus something for something even bigger coming back he stays a Maple Leaf.
Percent he is traded? 5%
Please please please let this come true. Jake the Snake is…..Good and at the same time Brutal. A former winger turned defenseman it shows in good and bad ways. He can go coast to coast carrying the puck and make an decent play. The issue for me is his defensive play(which for a defenseman is kind of important). He is not necessarily bad on most nights, but he is usually LOST on at least 1 play every night and confused on many more. He doesn’t have a bad cap hit and beside a legit top 4 dman he could turn out to be pretty good as his mistakes would go less noticed. At this point i would trade him for next to nothing just because I think we have players to fill his skates and to get rid of his 4 million dollar salary.
Percent he is traded? 50% I hope i’m wrong and its 100%
Leipsic or Kapanen
Both guys are lighting up the AHL right now and look like they are ready to make the jump to the big club. The only issue is roster spots. It will be very hard to call them up with the salary the Leafs have tied up in the other top 6 players, so unless the older guys get traded they could be trade bait for a young top 2/4 defenseman. I like a Kapanen+ for Trouba type deal.(yes i know Trouba just signed and most likely isnt available) I would keep Leipsic because he can play lower in the lineup due to his speed and grit and still provide offense. He has proven this season he can produce when put in a scoring role, so that leaves Kapanen open to deal.
The Position of strength for the Maple Leafs is their deep forward core in the pros and in the system(AHL and Junior) so if they decide they need to make a move why not use that depth to fill in holes. To me the Leafs have 3-4 spots to fill on the defensive core.
Let me know who the Leafs should trade before or at the deadline! comment below or at https://www.facebook.com/TMLHockeytalk/ or tweet me @TMLHockeyTlk