Trading Up For The First Overall Pick
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.