Toronto Maple Leafs: Draft, Trade, & Free Agent Possibilities

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Trading Up For The First Overall Pick

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For a while now, it has been suggested that captain Dion Phaneuf has been on the trade block. But rumors surfaced of a potential offer that would allow the Leafs to move up to the #1 overall spot in the draft with Phaneuf likely being the centerpiece. The deal would see Toronto dealing Phaneuf along with Nazem Kadri and the #8 overall pick to the Florida Panthers for the #1 overall pick and veteran defenseman Ed Jovanoski. The Panthers' biggest need is scoring, and they are reportedly very interested in drafting Halifax Mooseheads winger Nikolaj Ehlers, so trading down to #8 would be a good move for them. Florida's next hole to fill is a top left-handed defenseman, and Dion Phaneuf would help significantly. Ed Jovanoski, however, cannot do much for the Leafs because of his age and a recent injury history.

The one component that doesn't make much sense for either team in this proposal is Kadri, who is coming off a career-high 50 points at just 23 years old. Florida is very deep at the center position with promising future top six centers Aleksandr Barkov and Nick Bjugstad. The Leafs are very thin at that position with Kadri and Tyler Bozak being the only guys with a chance at a top 6 role.

Though he dipped in point-per-game percentage this past season, Kadri is still a very promising player who has yet to come into his prime, and with better wingers he could emerge as the bona fide number one center for the Leafs. Therefore, maybe the offer from the Leafs for the #1 pick should be Phaneuf, #8 overall pick, Peter Holland, and the rights to UFA Dave Bolland, since it has been suggested that Dale Tallon is interested in the veteran he won the cup with in 2010 when he was part of the Chicago Blackhawks' management team.

This deal would allow the Leafs to select Central Scouting's number one ranked skater Sam Bennett at #1 overall at the draft, a versatile forward who can play both at center and on the wing and whose style has been compared to that of  Jonathan Toews. At the same time, the Leafs shed Phaneuf's salary and make use of Dave Bolland who missed most of the season due to injury.

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Tags: 2014 Nhl Draft Hockey NHL Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Andrew

    You lost me at Kadri has the potential to be a number 1 C!!!! If a player needs wingers better than Kessel and JVR to be a number one C, then he is not a number 1 C. I’m sure you’ll point out that Kadri does not play with those wingers, and is played on line 2 with Lupul, but if Kadri were good enough he’d play on line 1. Kadri has some offensive skills, but he lacks the hockey sense and the physical stature to be a two-way C. He’ll never be more than a number 2 and not the best number 2 option at that.

    • Robert Nasso

      I don’t watch all the Leafs’ games so I can empathize with you there because many non Rangers fans tell me Stepan is a good no. 1 center when in reality he’d be a good no. 2 and even better no. 3. So I know what you’re saying, but I think what I actually meant is that Kadri has potential because he’s young still and I’m thinking also that maybe with a better coach he could be better.

  • Andrew

    And you’re proposed trade is way too much to give up for the number 1 pick. Do you even watch hockey? Rumor has it, the Leafs might be able to move to 4 for Reimer and #8, so why would they pay such a premium when a C is there first priority and little separates the top 3 (my preference: Reinhart>Bennett>Draisaitl)?

  • Andrew

    You’re much more sensible on your trading pack slide.,,,,,until you mention Fabri (Kadir 2.0).

  • D.WAdair

    The number one pick is not a Crosby and Nonis I don’t think just fell off the turnip truck. They will get just as good a player with the no. 8 as they will if they moved. Put all the picks from 1-10 in a basket and pick one and there will not be a heck of a difference in yrs. to come. Leafs should stay with the flow and maybe try to get a second round pick back. Kadri should not be traded to anybody same goes for Phaneuf.

    • Andrew

      They could trade Reimer and 8 to move to number 4. This would be a good move because they need a C and this would ensure that they walk away with Draisaitl or Bennett. It’s also a great trade for the Leafs because it only costs them a backup goaltender and it solves a serious problem for Calgary this year. This seems to be a very sensible trade for both sides. I think Bennett will likely slip to 4 as Buffalo is apparently in love with Reinhart and EDM wants to add sandpaper down the middle (Draisaitl). Bennett would need another year in junior before he is ready to make the jump, but would be a fantastic fit for the Leafs for the next 15 years.

      • Bill Kniess

        it would cost a bit more

        • Andrew

          It really depends on what other offers are on the table. It makes a lot of sense for Calgary to move back and draft a winger to play with Monahan moving forward. Another good C is a good problem to have, but if you can get a starting Goalie for this season and move back a few spots, still getting a top prospect and better addressing a team need, it makes sense. Not to mention Ritchie is definitely a Burke player. Maybe it costs you a slight bit more (a third rd pick?), but it really depends on what other options are on the table. We all know Burke likes to rebuild faster than expected too, and Bennett (who very well could slip to 4) is definitely not ready for the NHL next year (one of the youngest players in the draft and not physically developed enough yet).

          • Bill Kniess

            Well 2 things..Burke isn’t GM. Their new guy said he’s willing to have guys progress thru the system. Do they risk giving the next Toews up for a guy that doesn’t make it. Past the top 4 – 5 you have ?’s. For Ritchie it is inconsistent play and injuries.I think they might be a good trade partner for the Leafs…but a 3rd isn’t a bit more.

          • Andrew

            Sam Bennett is a good hockey player, but despite comparisons, he is not even in the same league as Jonathan Toews. If he were, do you think there is any chance he would slip to 4? The draft is not particularly strong. I’m not high on Ritchie either (for the reasons you note), but many other are. There are others that might be available at 8, including Virtanen who could be the pick of the draft. If I’m the Leafs, I’m not paying much more. The rumoured trade with FLA for no. 1 overall was insane – absolutely no way I give up Dion, Kadri, and #8 for the no. 1 overall and a horse that’s ready to be taken out to the pasture (Jovo). And, don’t think that Burke doesn’t have a great deal of influence over what the Flames do (it’s like thinking Shanahan doesn’t have a great deal of influence over what the Leafs do).

            I don’t know that the deal will work, but I do know I wouldn’t give much more.

          • Bill Kniess

            Well Toews went 3rd. Note: Bennett not going to florida is more likely becasue they need d-man and wingers more…ditto..buffalo…and as long as at this point the German kid looks good..Edmonton needs a big centre more…already have Hopkins. Might end up being a great draft. It appears some guys that could go 15-20 might be steals. If the Leafs don’t move up I’d think about seeing what Anaheim wants for their 2 picks. The Dion, Kadri #8 makes a bit of sense if we’re on a mid level rebuild. Dion’s cash would be helpful.

          • Andrew

            Toews went third in a very strong draft and in hindsight was easily the best pick of the draft. All I am saying is jonathan Toews is the best player in the NHL and expecting that from Bennett is unreasonable. I think he’ll be a good hockey player but I’d be very surprised if he were that good. He also is a lot smaller than Toews. I saw him play a few times this year as I’m living in Kingston for the time being and I think he is much more comparable to Gilmour. FYI: Reinhart is listed as a C and Buffalo will not pass on him (unless they decide to take Bennett, who is also a C).

            The Leafs aren’t that far away though, they have a good nucleus of players. A strong #2 to play with Phaneuf and a no.1 C would make them a far better team. Giving all of that is too much especially given that, unless you want Ekblad, you’re better at trading for spots 2-4, and the Leafs actually are quite deep in terms of defensive prospects (not to mention Kadri and Gardiner). They need a C. I just hope they make some good decisions or bamboozle someone else on a deal.

          • Bill Kniess

            8Peter Mueller (center) United StatesPhoenix CoyotesEverett Silvertips (WHL)9James Sheppard (C/LW) CanadaMinnesota WildCape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)yup there were some good ones…but Johnson as 1st over-all? Thursty at 13 for the Leafs? The big D-kid this year could easily be better than Johnson. At 8th/9th we’re looking a Ritchie/Ehlers/Virtanen/Nylander. All could be top players. The top 5 might not have the marquee right now. I would not expect Bennett to be Toews. We don’t need him to be. Just a very good player. ‘Gilmour’ ..that would be fine. Bennett had been rumoured for Florida before their need for d-man talk started. He’s been rated 1 overall. SO the 1-2-3 or 4 thing is up in the air. My actually preference is to sign Stastny..draft a good winger with size…there are 3 in that 8 spot. KAdri then becomes trade material. Along with Reimer we may be able to get a good piece or another pick. Nashville did that end of the yr. run and kicked themselves out of top 10. Do we get a trade where we could get the FLeury kid to add some size on d for the future?

          • Andrew

            In hindsight, it’s easy to say now that Johnson shouldn’t have been 1, but he was dominant coming out of junior not unlike Ekblad. Right now we’re forecasting based on projected potentials. Anyone of the top 4 could easily prove to be the pick of the draft regardless of order, I don’t disagree at all. The other reason I think Bennett could be available at 4 is because he’s probably the least NHL ready at the moment given his small stature and because he’s actually quite a bit younger than the other three and there seems to be an expectation that players drafted that high give immediate results. I don’t disagree with your thoughts at all though, I’d love to see the Leafs obtain another pick by packaging Kadri and Reimer – maybe you could get Haydyn Fleury, at which point you’d have to think the Leafs would be among the deepest in defensive prospects (if we include Reilly and Gardiner as prospects) in the NHL. But if you could move up to 4 for 8 and Reimer and could later package Kadri and Franson (NSH doesn’t really need a goalie of Reimer’s calibre) for NSH pick, you’d be even better off (I don’t know that NSH would go for that, but I don’t think it would take much more if that wasn’t enough).

          • Bill Kniess

            Like the last option as well..I think what we’ve arrived at..is..the Leafs quite likely should ..can….do at least one deal. Here’s hoping they are good ones

          • Andrew

            Hear! Hear!

          • Andrew

            And, if Leafs had Johnson to play with Phaneuf right now, there D would be 100x improved. Phaneuf could stop running around trying to do everything himself and when he did get caught out of position, he’d have a very good stay at home guy to bail him out a little more often.

          • kyle babcock

            When they compare him to Toews it only means that his playing style is like Toews. Doesn’t mean he has that kind of potential. Myself I Would love for the leafs to land him, you would have your three pieces to build around in Bennett, Rielly and Bernier

          • Andrew

            Maybe so, but i have seen him play a number of times this year, and while his compete level is extremely high and he’s a 200 ft. player like Toews, I think Gilmour is a much better comparison. Either way he is a fine hockey player and the Leafs would be lucky to have him…..in terms of building, don’t forget Kessel and JVR, they’re both still relatively young and if they had a playmaking C like Bennett, that first line would be among the best in the NHL.

  • david

    If the leafs do get the 1st overall pick it should be Ekblad. Did you guys here is combine interview? he say he already did the vo2 3 times and pretty much threatened any team drafting him that one day he wants to help the leafs win a Cup, on top of that he’s the most NHL ready dman in the draft. I think if Franson doesn’t go through arbitration which he most likely will and win too he and a few parts like Reimer, Phaneuf and our pick should be enough to get a top 3 pick if not the 1st overall. for years I’ve been wanting Paul Stastny and if he doesn’t take a hair cut to play for Roy he would be my main UFA target other along with Boyle, Callahan, Orpik, Weaver but the Colorado player I really want is Ryan O’rielly. If they resign Statny at a discount O’rielly may be a trade option. maybe Phaneuf and a prospect may be enough to get er done. as for back up goalies go I like Ray Emery. He’s exactly what the Leafs need and Carlyle like in players. He’s a boxer that will make any apposing teams power forward think twice before rushing the net and he’s also a pretty decent back up too. The smart thing for nonis to do is to trade away high cap hits but replace them with experienced veteran short term contracts and only trade for a player if he’s a low risk high reward player. We also have to remember that the Leafs have some parts in the Marlies hat are ready and close to being ready like Josh Leivo, Peter Granberg, TJ Brennan, Jerry D’Amigo and maybe even Sam Carrick. Id like to see a team like this:
    13 forwards-
    JVR-Bozak-Kessel
    Lupul-Stastny(ufa)-Callahan(ufa)
    Komorov-Bolland-Clarkson
    D’Amigo-McClement-Ashton
    Orr

    8 defencemen-
    Gardnier-Boyle
    Rielly-Gunnarsson
    Ekblad-Gleason
    Brennan/Granberg

    Bernier/Emery

    • Robert Nasso

      Coming from a Rangers fan, you don’t want to rely on Callahan as a top 6 player. He would be a third liner on a good team but then again so would Clarkson so if I’m Nonis I wouldn’t want to take a chance on him and have two horrific contracts, since Callahan wants Clarkson money.

    • Bill Kniess

      Well let’s see here ..Phaneuf out..saves you 7 mil. Stastny is going to take most of that to sign..Callahan wants 5 + .. Bolland wants something close to 5…and Boyle would need at least 5…so at cheapest prices possible I got 5+4+8+5+6+5+ 2+4.25+6+ (4)…+ 2+5+1+3+1+4+1+1 + 3+2= at least 2 mil. over cap. ..good luck on that. it would be dang hard ot get Callahan, an American to say yes.

    • Andrew

      You’re out of your mind.

    • RobNasso

      Coming from a Rangers fan, you don’t want to rely on Callahan as a top 6 player. He would be a third liner on a good team but then again so would Clarkson so if I’m Nonis I wouldn’t want to take a chance on him and have two horrific contracts, since Callahan wants Clarkson money.