With the Dion Phaneuf deal almost two weeks ago and the Shawn Matthias deal that sent him to Colorado yesterday, Lou Lamoriello and the Leafs made another move earlier today with the trade deadline looming.
The Leafs sent defenseman Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forward Raffi Torres and two second round picks, one in 2017 and one in 2018.
Torres, 34, hasn’t played in the NHL in since the 2013/14 season. He missed all of the 2014/15 season with a knee injury and missed 41 games this year due to a suspension. Torres won’t be seeing NHL ice any time soon as the Leafs didn’t add him to their American Hockey League roster with the Toronto Marlies. He was re-assigned to the San Jose Barracuda.
While everyone in the Twitter-verse wasn’t thrilled that Torres was part of the return, including myself, it’s still a good thing for us. There are far better forwards in the Leafs organization that they can call up. And they did by calling up Brendan Leipsic and Stuart Percy from the Marlies immediately after this deal. Not only that, Torres is a pending UFA himself at season’s end. While I’m not a fan based on his track record, there is still a positive upside to this deal.
The key, once again, with this deal lies in the draft picks acquired, two second round picks. The Leafs currently have 12 draft picks heading into the 2016 draft and are sticking true to their word in regards to their rebuild for the future. The Leafs now have nine picks in 2017 and eight picks for 2018. They have the option of hanging onto those picks or deal them later on for other pieces and possibly move up or down the draft board. To me, Torres was just filler. He was going to be buried in the minors anyway and he’ll most likely stay there.
For many Leafs fans, it’s disappointing to see someone like Roman Polak leave. He was the true definition of a leader on this team. But the Sharks are getting someone worthwhile for a playoff run. He’s a smart, physical defender who can be relied on heavily on the penalty kill. With the Leafs, he was ranked second overall among defensemen, averaging over three minutes per game when the Leafs were short-handed.
It was really a disappointing season for Spaling after he put up 27 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. He only has seven points through 35 games played. But, from the start, he was put into the bottom six and offense was going to be hard to come by. Spaling will look to be another depth guy in the Sharks bottom six.
Once again, this deal also helps the Leafs financially as they now have $7, 682, 282 in cap space, according to General Fanager.
With the subtraction of Polak, the Leafs defense took another hit. The painful season continues as players are on their heels on potentially getting moved. And Babcock was right
But it’s also the time for the future to step up and show that they belong. It looked like Stuart Percy was going to be a main stayer after an impressive first nine games last year but was sent back to the Marlies. He now has another chance to show that he belongs. I recommend that you take the time to read Jude MacDonald’s excellent interview with Percy here.
In his first game, fans were able to see what Brendan Leipsic could bring to the table. While he showed great speed and was great on the fore check, we saw his great hand eye as he scored his first career NHL goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
The question that remains for many Leafs fans is, “Who is next?” One thing is for sure, Lou Lamoriello is far from done, his spies are in St. Loius.
Toronto’s assistant GM, Kyle Dubas, and director of pro scouting, Dave Morrison, are taking in tonight’s Blues-Sharks game. #StlBlues
— Andrew Allsman (@allsmandrew) February 22, 2016
Who else should be sent packing? Click the image above and tell us.