Article contributed by : Michael Dube
If you’re a Leaf fan, you’re like me and you’re in all your glory right now. It was a good finish to the decade for the blue and white that has stretched into a good start to 2020. As a tortured fan base, the natural thing to do is to get ahead of ourselves and find ways to argue about how we can be better. Thus, I present to you, a collection of all the trade rumors, discussions, and absurd assertions I could find on the landscape of the Internet.
Potential Leafs on the Block:
Kasperi Kapanen – (Cap Hit: 3.2M, RFA in 2022)
Kap hasn’t been exactly electric this season but hasn’t necessarily been invisible either. 10 goals, 12 assists and 22 points hasn’t set the league on fire, but the flashes of brilliance have been more noticeable lately. Kapanen is maybe the fastest player in the NHL from point A to point B when he chooses to put the jets on. The upside for Kapanen is that he could bury 25 goals likely, he’s a terrific penalty killer, threat man-down and seems to be more relevant in the playoffs when it matters. I say we keep Kap.
Andreas Johnsson – (Cap Hit: 3.4M, UFA in 2023)
6 goals and 10 assists in 16 games is less impressive than Mango’s potential. A huge question mark with 18 is how he looks when he returns from the IR onto a roster that is buzzing under a new coach in Keefe. Johnsson has a good history under Keefe, winning a Calder Cup as well as the Calder Cup MVP with the Marlies before making the jump to the show. Where he fits in upon his return is up for debate. I can’t see him jumping back onto a Matthews wing with how the 11-34-16 line has performed. He’s a player that can move up and down the lineup, an attractive trade piece for other GM’s.
Jake Muzzin – (Cap Hit: 4M, UFA in 2020)
This is my opinion; Muzzin has been one of the best pieces of the Leaf blueline this season. He’s a bull on the defensive end. He is one of the best in the Keefe system to defend the slot and has a tad bit of an offensive streak to him. He’s not the most fleet of foot, but it seems he brings and underrated leadership tone to the room and even provides the young guns with some sense of security. He’s an attractive piece at the deadline as a rental with his contract, but it seems he enjoys being in Toronto and I’m confident the Leafs could get him resigned at a decent cost.
Cody Ceci – (Cap Hit: 4.5M, UFA in 2020)
Ceci is a tough one to debate regarding trades. Honestly, the pulse seems to be that he could be an add-in rental for a team desperate for defensive depth. He plays high enough in the lineup for the Leafs to be attractive, but his contract is … not great. A $4.5M cap hit is a little rich for a number 4/5 defenseman but Ceci has been better since Babcock vacated the bench, likely due to less minutes and better matchups. Trading Ceci might be one of those ‘favors’ Toronto so conveniently pulls off. That might mean return is low; unless he’s accompanying a prospect and pick.
Dmytro Timashov – (Cap Hit: 694K, RFA in 2020)
Timo is an interesting diamond-in-the-rough type player. In 29 games, Timashov has only posted 8 points, but has had flashes of interesting offensive prowess. He’s a guy that Babs’ loved because of his “thickness,” but it’s likely he has more in the tank than to be a 4th line shift-taker on one of the deepest teams in the league. With more opportunity might come more results for this player and I believe that’s the most attractive factor for rebuilding teams. Could be resigned for a good price next season.
Jeremy Bracco – (Cap Hit: 842K, RFA in 2020)
Perhaps the most intriguing question mark of the deadline, Jeremy Bracco has an offensive flair, carries the swagger of the new generation of young stars and has apparently requested a trade out of Toronto. This makes sense, you can’t really hold it against the guy. He’s playing in the AHL and will only come out to play with the big boys if he wins a role out from beneath someone in the top six. I can’t find a situation where I think Bracco replaces any of the Leafs top six forwards unless way down the road or through long-term injury. This may be a very good prospect that makes sense for Toronto to shop. Unproven, brings decent value back and likely resign to a decent contract to prove himself on a rebuilding team.
Ben Harpur – (Cap Hit: 725K, RFA in 2020)
Does anyone know anything about this guy? Seems like a D-man that was brought in to fill the role of Babs’ big, tough, slow obsession but never even got a sniff. I’ve seen him chuck knucks well and I mean, he’s a huge guy at 6’7” 240lbs but doesn’t do anything particularly well other than penalty kill. His contract at $725K for the rest of the season might go over easy for a team looking to add some black-ace toughness down the stretch? Feel free to chirp me about my lack of knowledge here, I’m unsure why he’s been rumored in so many deals other than that he’s asked out of the big smoke.
Potential Matches Rumored:
Alexandar Georgiev – (Cap Hit: 792K, RFA in 2020)
Backup tender so desperately needed! Unsure what the price might be at this point, though the rumor mills have the Leafs highly interested in Georgiev. What Dubas is willing to part with for a backup goalie will be interesting, mainly because the Leafs backup situation is an absolute tire fire. If Freddy goes down tomorrow; (please, no God!) the Leafs are all but sewered. Would Georgiev be an excellent addition? Yes. Could we resign him next year as an RFA? Unsure. Rental backup goalie? Maybe?
Wayne Simmonds – (Cap Hit: 5M, UFA in 2020)
Simmonds has 14 points this year but is a dash-13 with the struggling New Jersey Devils. Not to say that he isn’t attractive as a piece to add to the Leafs bottom six. In the words of Brian Burke, he would keep the flies off. However, the team has cut its teeth on speed and skill and I just can’t see Dubas spending much on a rental like Simmonds. This is not to say that all you ‘old time hockey’ lovers are necessarily wrong that we need more toughness. There’s just no reason to go clearing the cupboards to bring in a rental that doesn’t bring more than Mason Marchment might already.
Sami Vatanen – (Cap Hit: 4.8M, UFA in 2020)
Also a member of the struggling Devils, Vatanen is a lot different player than Simmonds. 21 points in 36 games this season, Vatanen is an offensive defenceman that can play up into the Leafs top four. Vatanen has an equal point share as Morgan Rielly and ideally Dubas could move Ceci and his contract out in the process of replacing him with a much better model. Vatanen is a rental and doesn’t provide security for the future, but none of us think Ceci is returning either, do we?
Trevor Lewis – (Cap Hit: 2M, UFA in 2020)
Lewis is kind of along the same lines as Simmonds. Bolstering the middle of the ice is always a good thing, but I’m not sure what Dubas gives up in a deal to get Lewis? Is it worth a prospect or draft picks in order to get a checking center? Maybe some believe it is. Lewis is a $2M cap hit which is more realistic than Simmonds $5M but I’m not sure whether the price would be worth it over the pieces in place already.
Jeff Petry – (Cap Hit: 5.5M, UFA in 2021)
Jeff Petry is a player that, like Vatanen, could help the Leafs in a big way. A right-handed D-man, offensive and powerplay skills and locked up for another year. Unfortunately, the $5.5M hit might take away from the ability to keep Muzzin and Barrie and I’m not sure I’d trade either of those two for Petry. The Habs have pretty well fallen off the pace and questions have swirled around the team making a big splash- this might be one of them.
The Deal I’d Like to See:
To the Rangers:
Andreas Johnsson (Cap Hit: $3.4, UFA 2023)
Jeremy Bracco (Cap Hit: $842K, RFA 2020)
4th Round Pick
To the Leafs:
Alexandar Georgiev (Cap Hit: $792K, RFA 2020)
Anthony DeAngelo (Cap Hit: $925K, RFA 2020)