NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2018

by | Jan 15, 2018 | Rumors | 86 comments

Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek could be on the move by the trade deadline (Photo via NHL Images).

Latest on Thomas Vanek, Evander Kane, Jack Johnson, Paul Martin and Bobby Ryan in your NHL rumor mill.

VANEK LIKELY TO BE DEALT

THE PROVINCE: Jason Botchford recently reported Thomas Vanek hopes to remain with the Vancouver Canucks, but he could be moved by the trade deadline if the club remains out of playoff contention by then. A pending free agent in July, the 34-year-old winger is on pace for a 57-point season. Botchford believes the Canucks need draft picks to continue their rebuild and suggests Vanek could fetch a second- or third-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek is no stranger to being moved at the trade deadline. While he has solid numbers this season, he also has a reputation for coming up small in the heat of postseason competition. That could hurt Vanek’s trade value. Still, I expect the Canucks will get some calls from postseason contenders seeking scoring depth. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks could be among the suitors. 

CHANGING NHL COULD AFFECT KANE’S TRADE VALUE

SPORTSNET: Damien Cox speculates the Buffalo Sabres might not get back as much in an Evander Kane trade as some believe, citing the decline of power forwards as the NHL puts emphasis on speed and skill. While Kane has those attributes, his physical skills (strength, size and fighting ability) aren’t as important as they once were. He feels Kane is not a franchise player but more of a complementary winger.

Kane could fetch the Sabres a first-round pick but Cox doubts it’ll be one in the top-ten of this year’s draft. He suggests the Sabres could get something comparable to what the Toronto Maple Leafs got in the Phil Kessel trade (prospect, late first-rounder and a third rounder) two years ago. He also suggests some teams won’t touch Kane because of his personal baggage, which included clashes with teammates and off-ice brushes with the law.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cox makes some valid points here. However, never underestimate the ability of a desperate or championship-hungry NHL general manger to overpay for a player. Kane remains the best player believed available in the trade market and should bring the Sabres a decent return.

MOVING JOHNSON COULD BE CHALLENGING FOR BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline examines the challenges facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in honoring defenseman Jack Johnson’s trade request. He notes the Jackets, despite their recent struggles, are expected to be buyers at the deadline, not sellers. While Johnson has struggled and his playing time reduced this season, he remains an important part of their blueline.

With the Jackets in “win now” mode, Portzline doubts they’ll want a draft pick in return, likely preferring a defenseman.  It’s also unclear if there are playoff contenders who see Johnson as a big-minute, top-four rearguard while non-contenders usually aren’t in the market for pending UFAs.

Portzline suggests perhaps the Jackets look at swinging a deal with another playoff club with potentially available UFAs. He notes the Toronto Maple Leafs are in need of blueline help and suggests center Tyler Bozak as a possible trade target.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Portzline is merely speculating with his suggestions of a Johnson-for-Bozak swap. He’s not saying it’s going to happen. Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen will be looking for a deal that can help his club this season. Swapping his pending UFA defenseman for a pending UFA center could be the best solution. 

UPDATE ON MARTIN

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks defenseman Paul Martin and his agent Ben Hankinson have been working with GM Doug Wilson to find a trade for the blueliner. Martin is finally healthy after missing most of this season to an ankle injury but he’s been unable to crack the Sharks’ defense. Hankinson said there’s been interest from “some pretty good teams, some top teams,” and they’re trying to work something out. If a trade can’t be completed soon, Pashelka said Martin could be placed on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martin’s age (36) and cap hit ($4.85 million) for this season and next could hurt efforts to move him. The Sharks might have to pick up some salary or take back a contracted players to make this work. The New York Islanders could be a suitor. Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello drafted Martin back when he ran the New Jersey Devils so maybe there’s a fit there.

COULD THE SENATORS SHOP RYAN THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek ponders the possibility of the Ottawa Senators finding a creative way to move winger Bobby Ryan or defenseman Dion Phaneuf to free up sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign franchise player Erik Karlsson, who’s eligible in 2019 for UFA status. Both players carry annual cap hits of $7 million.

Noting the Senators left Ryan exposed at last year’s expansion draft, Duhatschek wonders if they might be able to tempt the Vegas Golden Knights this summer if James Neal and/or David Perron depart via free agency. If one or both sign elsewhere, Vegas will be in need for a top-six scorer and will have cap flexibility to find one. Perhaps if the Sens picked up half of Ryan’s $7.25-million cap hit it might make him worth the gamble for Vegas. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek floats an interesting theory but it depends upon whether the Golden Knights lose Neal and/or Perron to free agency and if they see Ryan as a suitable replacement for either guy. It could also depend upon whether Ryan, who has a 10-team no-trade list, accepts being dealt to Vegas. 

 








86 Comments

  1. The more I see Kanes name floated, the more he makes sense right now for Rangers…over last 9-10 games they’re averaging less than 2 goals a game. With Kreider out at least 6 weeks, Kane would immediately help fill his spot. Would allow Rangers to move Nash at deadline when Kreider might be back. Also allows them to move Miller to center, where I think he has more value for them

    • Here’s the thing with this on Kane…”his personal baggage, which included clashes with teammates and off-ice brushes with the law”, Kane has been a model citizen and will continue to be with the career contract on the line come July so a team renting him for their playoff run need not worry about this garbage. Haven’t heard anything about Kane not being liked by his Sabre teammates and those brushes with the law are going on 2 years ago.

      I hope we get a good return for him as Botteril has a huge mess to clean up from Tim Murray days here.

      • He just had a run in with a teammate who called him selfish. That was a few days ago

      • I watched that highlight, dump & chase drill. Not sure why his actions were selfish. I want my players practicing the way the play.

        He bumped & wrote Bogosian out. Didn’t see any issue with it.

        Perhaps the player who spoke out who is a border line NHL player in Falk is jealous he has had to fight for every opportunity he has ever had where Kane has just been given his.

        Kane isn’t the only premadona in the NHL nor the last. He can play on my team any time. I’m willing to take the good with the bad & at 26 still will continue to mature.

  2. Kane is a goal scorer, with speed, goes to the net, hits and is a solid penalty killer, yes Cox is correct these are not skill that other teams are looking for.
    He is the top ufa on the market he will bring back the most in return.

    • Kane hasnt played an nhl playoff game yet in his career. He strikes me as a guy I’d wanna go to battle with however… at least on the ice. I’m ignoring his off ice shinnanegans when I say that. He plays a game that will elevate in the playoffs – what a nightmare it would be to play against him every other night.

      Caper to your point – what a horrible skillset he has! Ick.

    • I agree. He easily gets a 1st a decent prospect. Numerous teams could use Kane have the assets & opportunity to make a run especially with Kane & potentially have the ability to resign him. NYR & SJ immediately come to mind & StL could do the same especially if the bought out Gunnarson this summer.

      • Rangers look awful right now and are at risk of sliding out of contention. Need to do something and Kane seems most rumored guy that can be had without giving up a key roster player

      • They have needed to do something since the summer & lossing Kreider compounds the problem.

        A few mistakes this summer specifically buying out Girardi & trying to replace him with Smith has been brutal.

        Where has Shattenkirk gone 3 assist in 28 games & why can’t Hayes or Skjei get any PP time at least consistently on the 2nd unit?

        Big early has a great coaching record but drives me insane. I hated him in Van & his decisions in NYR just continue to frustrate me.

      • Vigneault for big in last paragraph. How Apple gets that from spell checker is bizarre

      • Big Early: good new nickname for Vigneault.

      • Striker, what they needed to do this summer was revamp D. Everyone was screaming to get rid of Girardi and Staal. Gorton signed Pionk late last season out of college and traded for DeAngelo. Smith was on team and Gorton made mistake in resigning him. Again, all this was before Shatty signing , which most agree was a surprise for the term and $ they got him for. Either way, Girardi was gone. Same for Klein. Problem is, as usual AV won’t let younger guys have a shot. Not going to argue who we should’ve kept between G and Smith. They’re both horrible and I don’t want either. As for PP? Another reason I want to get rid of Nash at deadline. I feel he’s getting time that others should be. Yeah, I’d rather Hayes.

      • I wasn’t & I’m fairly certain Nyr4Life wanted them to wait for at least 1 more season due to the prohibitive nature of a 6 year buy out.

        I run the math several times on how Smith & Giradi’s cost to NYR make no sense.

        The only issue with Girardi was his salary not specifically his contribution, he is still a very survivable solid #4 who can play in the #3 spot for stretches if necessary.

    • Kane is a point a game player on a really bad team. He will fetch what the Sabres are asking for him.

      • He’s only 26. I don’t understand why they’re shopping him. Wonder what his next contract will look like. Probably similar to Kreider?

      • Slick I’m sure Buf would love to sign & retain Kane but he has no interest. As a UFA he will have his pick of at least 1/2 the league & he will be getting significantly more than Kreider signed for. Kreider was an RFA who hadn’t really broken through.

        I would wager Kane gets 6 or 7 years at at 6+ as a UFA & signs with a team that not only makes the playoffs something Buf isn’t accomplishing any time soon & has cup aspirations. Could thatvteam miss the playoffs next season with Kane? Sure parity is alive & well & making the playoffs is a very fine line in today’s NHL.

  3. Bobby Ryan’s salary value these days is less than 1.5M. If you are betting on any level of recovery, you may want him at up to 2.25M. I can’t imagine Ottawa eats the rest to make him even somewhat attractive and they are getting nothing back for him. Ottawa doesn’t pay to the cap so buying him out makes no sense. Also, taking up a valuable NHL spot makes no sense either given they look to be wanting to get young. Send him down and leave him there.

    • Your not allowed to eat more than 1/2.

      Ryan wasn’t a 7.25 million dollar player when signed but he’s not a 2.25 player either. Scoring isn’t easy in the system Ott chooses to play & the limited offensive tallest makes it very easy for other teams to shut down what scoring they have.

      At a bare minimum Ott would need to eat 2 maybe 2.5 in salary & then still add a sweetener of probably a 2nd & still take back a bothersome contract.

      Not saying this would be a deal just an example of a bad contract that Ott would also have to take back. Think a contract like Beleskey’s 2 or 3 more years in or around 3 mil per.

      Or they eat 2 to 2.5 & just take back another teams bad contract like a Ladd, Nielsen type contract. In that scenario they solve very little just move the problem to another position.

      I think Ott is stuck with the problem.

      • SJ has good amount of cap space. If OTT eats half and take Martin back (1 more season only) and SJ eats half of Martins…. could the deal get done? SJ is looking not to give up prospects. Martin’s 1 yr to clear up cap space is what OTT needs. Is that a viable trade option for both sides? Bobby Ryan might look good skating next to Pavelski for the next few years. AND next to Assist King Thornton this playoff run.

      • Ryan still has 4 years after this season if something like that we’re going to fly they probably would have to take Boedker as well.

      • So you are suggesting OTT eats 50% of Ryan’s contract AND take Boedker’s 2yr remaining @ $4M per year as well ???

      • Absolutely not. Just speaking to your thought.

        If Ott ate 2 mil per & took Boedker maybe that’s something SJ might consider, might even take more.

        Ott would need to get very creative to get out of Ryan’s deal. Beyond my deductive reasoning abilities to figure out what will actually happen just what it might cost.

        Term is a serious problem. Ryan’s in ability to produce for so long now is serious problematic. Could he return to 25 goal 59 point range else where? Not worth the risk even at 5.

      • Sticker, totally disagree. He is no where near Ottawa’s top offensive player as such the system they play doesn’t seem to affect the others that are outplaying him offensively?
        Perhaps he has lost his will give the huge dollars he is making. His is not worth more that 2.25 to any team at this point in his career.

  4. Johnson-for-Bozak is not a bad idea. A solution to both sides. Leafs may even consider signing him but it will depend on the term and dollar his camp is looking for. Is his mommy still involved with his affairs

    Bobby Ryan will be tough to move. At least Dion is a defence-man

    E.Kane would help any team with no salary attached. Not even sure why Sabres do not want to retain him.

    • Bozak would be good, but several Jackets fans I’ve talked to are wondering if Brassard could be had.

    • LEAFS
      leafs are very thin down the middle with respects to anyone filling in for a departed Bozak especially on face offs. Gauthier looks really really slow in this line up and I don’t think he will fit in long term ..id rather Aaltonen fill that roll moving forward, longer term.
      Jack Johnson shoots Left and the Leafs need a bigger body right hand shot..IMO
      Johnson reminds me a lot of an older Morgan Rielly in his style of play.
      I think a Gudbranson would fit the roll the Leafs need better for right now!

      VANEK
      Would not touch him with a ten foot pole for a playoff run!

      Paul Martin
      Buyer beware at $4.5 million i would say his best years are in the rear view mirror …like really far away !

      KANE

      I think Kane to the Islanders makes more sense ..this seems to be a Garth Snow type of move ….especially to help on a power play and replace Beauvillier on the 2nd line with Barzal and Eberle…can move Kane in and out of teh top 2 lines withe LEE ..that would be a very letah two line combo right now.

      https://leftwinglock.com/line-combinations/new-york-islanders/?team=new-york-islanders&strength=EV&gametype=GD

      • Kal El, very much disagree with your comments on the Leafs being thin down the middle, we are quite strong down the middle with or without Bozak. Gautier is an average skater with very good size, he has been groomed as a defensive specialist and will be on this team as our third line checking centre once Bozak is gone. IMO he is perfectly suited to that role.

        A checking centre’s key area of responsibility is to help protect the front of our own net – a big guy that skates just fine is ideal.

        Aaltononen will fill the fourth line centre role next season with an ability to move up short term if needed.

      • They are certainly 1 of numerous options. There will be at least 8 teams bidding when we burn of weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

      • Kal el, I could see the Isles being interested in Kane but scoring hasn’t really been the issue. They need a goalie and perhaps an experienced D if their injury situation doesn’t improve. Of course the, thank you Edm, second line of Beauvillier, Barzel, and Eberle just managed 12 pts against the Rangers so maybe they are ok 🙂

    • & that helps Clb how?

      Taking Johnson off Clb roster then having to play a lesser Dman doesn’t help Clb playoff aspirations & Bozak doesn’t off art that loss.

      I see Johnson just walking as a IFA this summer, Clb retains him for their playoff run. If they don’t fall out of the race that is.

      • Striker, agreed it makes no sense for Columbus to move Johnson. If they are, all we’re suggesting here is Bozak plus a minor add – if that isn’t enough, they can look elsewhere.

        Johnson isn’t likely moving.

      • Striker, actually, when Murray returns from injury it will be an upgrade over JJ. In fact, Murray and Nuti had pushed JJ and Savard to the 3rd pairing.

    • I liked what former NHLer Shane Willis said last night on Johnson.

      He stated his feelings as a player is if you don’t want to be here then I don’t want you in the locker room or on the practice ice. He then stated if he was Torts, he would make sure Johnson watched the rest of the season from the players box.

      • Well thankfully the business side of hockey trumps the emotional side almost exclusively.

        There is a reason not every player that played in the NHL gets future employment in player development or management.

        Most aren’t even suited for talking heads roles.

    • SilverSeven, I think it’s more does Kane want to stay here in Buffalo or maybe he wants to see what he’s worth on the open market. Maybe he wants to go home to Vancouver. Sabres can still resign him this summer but only Kane and the Sabres can answer that question.

    • Slightly off topic, but as Bozaks name has been raised, and Travis Dermott mysteriously had his #3 taken away today without explanation, I wonder if it is to facilitate a trade for someone who would expect to wear their traditional # 3. Ie. Bozak for Olli Maatta? Other experienced #3’s in the Western Conference who could slide into the Leafs lineup (not saying I am wanting any or that any are 1 for 1 trades), and in no particular order, John Klingberg, Braydon McNabb…Thoughts?

      • Other than Jack Johnson I should have added…

  5. Leaf Defense is an interesting Dichotomy. There are many including seasoned analyst that insist the Leafs need to improve their defense and bring an NHL seasoned defense into this year’s playoffs. I am not one of those and I don’t believe Brendan and Lou are either. They have repeatedly stated “stay the course”, that includes playing young players and getting them experience, including playoff experience. Last year the Leafs brought 6 rookies into the playoffs. Washington was unquestionable better, we won 2 of 6.

    To me, “stay the course” means let’s get this team into a true cup contending position in two years. To do so, players we expect to be contributors to that team need to play in the playoffs. At present, I believe this includes Borgman and Dermott.

    Johnson presents a nice thought as for the right price, the Leafs may move off “stay the course” at least slightly. I suspect there are teams that will offer more for Johnson then I think the Leafs should, so this is likely not going anywhere in Toronto. Paul Martin is a non starter in Toronto – IMO.

    • I am with in terms o what it seems like Leafs management are thinking. They seem to be realistic. Last year was great to spark the fan base, now this year people are a little disappointed that the improvement wasn’t more concrete. In reality, the Leafs look much better than many would have anticipated 18 months ago, and that even includes their blueline. While it’s definitely something that needs to improve, it was never as bad as anticipated, and just 18 months out, the depth in the system actualy exists to give them a chance to develop internally.

      At some point the Leafs will probably go hunting for that guy, but I don’t think they rush it.

      All that being said, the Johnson for Bozak swap is at least interesting as it doesn’t cost futures. Basically, they swap “own” rentals, and get a look at a guy who they may have interest in signing. One thing that will make the Leafs weary, is that Johnson’s financial situation has him looking to maximize dollars at all costs on his next deal. There will not likely be any discounts for the right fit. Whatever team pony’s up the most after tax guaranteed dollars is likely getting his services next year, so they may not want to shake things up if they think he is very unlikely to sign a contract they are happy with.

      • Danny, I make the Bozak for Johnson deal – offer nothing more. I doubt it gets it done, but I’m in on that deal – regardless of my point on playing Dermott in this year’s playoffs. To me Johnson is a guy that we can sign longer term and fits our needs very nicely.

      • Trekie,

        It absolutely seems like a viable swap, I just think that given the Leafs Managements stick to it approach, I am not sure we will see them want to shake up the lines too much.

        Me personally, I would do that deal, as I don’t think Bozak brings a lot to the table, and I like creating space for a guy like Leivo or Kapanen to get back in the line up. I also like the idea of getting a look at a player you might actually consider signing, and it could allow the Leafs to have a legitimately decent 3rd pair, not something they have had too much of this year. My point is Leafs managements patient approach makes it less likely they do much.

    • I assume Tor adds a Dman for depth. Think Cole, Gunnarson type trade. Primary compensation is a pick but Leivo or Shoshnikov could be included. No room at the inn for either player & both need to clear waivers now & Gauthier will next season so any of these players could be included potentially.

      • Striker absolutely not think Cole if it includes anything more that a 5th round pick. We don’t need what he brings. Polak already supplies that and IMO – supplies it better than what Cole can.

        Soshnikov, IMO, will be the guy that replaces what Komorov brings next season, I don’t see us dealing him. I’m not a fan of what Leivo brings, Pittsburg can have him, but not for Cole.

        Gunnarson is an ex-Leaf, I always liked him and would be interested in having him back – why would St Louis be dealing him?

        Again, I don’t believe the Leafs will be adding any D as I believe the mantra is “stay the course” unless it’s for a Johnson type guy where we don’t lose any futures. Not going to happen.

      • I get what you mean, but the reality is, Ian Cole was 3rd in the league last year in Blocked Shots, while Polak was 48th.
        As a last pairing, Cole definitely provides value and an upgrade over Polak – especially to a club that needs the depth, skill set and the experience (as a winner). Stats speak for themselves. I don’t want to trade him, but we can’t afford him next year, so you gotta do what you gotta do.

      • Nope. With Harrington, Carlsson and Kukan, the Jackets have d-man depth. Add in the return of Murray and JJ becomes a luxury. When he gets traded it will be for a forward, most likely a center.

      • Comparing Colo to Polak is a joke. Polak is a pylon and a replacement level player. He was a huge liability for the Sharks in 2016 and he’s older and slower now. Cole can skate, he would block a pick with his face if he had to, he’s decent at moving the puck, and he’s physical.

    • It they were sticking to it they wouldn’t have signed marleau and hainsey and give the leadership garbage marleau got stripped of the captaincy and doesn’t show up in the playoffs

  6. That Bozak for Johnson is a solid idea- seems like a good move on both sides. Leafs can move Kadri to centre that line and leave komarov on the 3rd-or even bring in a rental if not play Marleau there. Johnson is solid

    • Kadri already plays center. They could go into the final stretch testing out Marleau and Nylander at center, but Babcock has seemed very hesitant to put Nylander there, and Marleau has been more effective on the wing.

      It’s definitely an interesting trade thought, but in general it can be difficult to swap UFA’s since that means finding a playoff team with a solid UFA who would be open to trading them. I don’t think there are many of those.

    • AJ – why is he playing below Hunwick this year. His stats were quite good last year. Polak’s stats were quite good as well, especially in the hits category. I’m not sold on Cole and we’re not dealing talent or anything of value to get him – don’t need him – I call him at best a wash with Polak – or a very minor upgrade. Again, my biggest point is we need to play Dermott and Borgman ahead of Polak and Carrick this playoff season – stay the course.

      We’re not trading for Cole,

  7. The Leafs keep Bozak IMO – Marner is playing better these days as Bozak’s wing, Bozak is a good face off man, he chips in on shootouts and mainly there’s not a replacement in their system – this is the Leaf’s weakest position of depth and needs to be addressed.

    • BC, I have always liked Bozak and he is likely not going anywhere unless he can bring in a piece that perhaps helps us more, like Johnson does.

      If it takes Bozak and Carrick or Polak to get Johnson, I’m still in.

    • BC , I completely agree with you on Bozak. Faceoff guys like that in the playoffs are too important(even if his #s are down due to the new clampdown).

  8. Lightning looking:
    faceoff 3rd line ctr
    2nd pair D —
    Tyler Johnson for Justin Falk ? Bolts have a couple of ready to go replacements for TJ.
    Val Fillpula back as face-off 3rd liner? A prospect or a mid-rounder, & chemistry is a known.

    • It would cost TB considerably more than Johnson to acquire Faulk. Like a ton. Nor do I see Car moving him till the summer if 2019.

      Carolina has a ton of kids coming, their D is a nice luxury to have & no cap constraints to force them to move any of them until Faulk is a year from UFA status.

      When he’s moved it won’t be for a smurf C. Car is just completing Year 4 since Francis assume the GM role. The roster is littered with young developing studs at F & D they have 1 of the best prospect kitty’s in the NHL, a full stable of picks & do need to deviate from the plan.

      Darling has been an unmitigated disaster & giving him a 4 year deal 1 of the few mistakes Francis has made so far.

  9. I the last 10 years Vanek has played in the playoffs 4 of 10 seasons.

    2009-10. 3GP-2G-1A-3Pts.
    2010-11. 7-5-0-5.
    2013-14. 17-5-5-10.
    2014-15. 10-0-4-4.

    In 2014-15 with Min Vanek played as a 3rd line winger finishing 8th in TOI/GP at 14:11, 1 second more than Zucker at 9. Do 3rd line wingers put up many points in the playoffs, hell do they in the regular season. Vanek finished tied for 5th in points for that play off run.

  10. I agree with bringing Dermott in and keeping Borgman in the lineup. Carrick and Gardiner are liabilities on defense so unless Babcock allows them to carry the puck rather than pass it up to forwards who in turn dump it and refuse to pay the price to regain possession, then trade Carrick and Gardiner because in the long run Dermott and Borgman are going to better defensively and all around players.

    I’m getting tired of seeing Gardiner with the hail mary pass through the neutral zone looking for a flat footed cherry picker and the other team gains possession. If it worked once out of 10 times I can understand the logic but it’s not.

    It’s called doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result.

    Seeing the Leafs play I’ve come to the conclusion that when they are taking the night off, they are not a playoff team. When they are on, they are a playoff team. To me that tells me that there are a few that need to be sent to greener pastures.

    Bringing in a power forward that can score (Evander Kane), a defensive forward that can kill penalties effectively are short and long term gains for the Leafs.

    • That’s the game Babcock wants Gardner playing, he wants him driving transition, to maximize Tors speed. Having lost his D partner & be responsible for carrying Carrick or worse is no easy feat.

      As usual I get to defend Gardner. Appreciate the evil you know.

      • Sticker, agreed on your comments regarding Gardner and what Babcocks whats. I’d like to see Gardner jump in on the play more. He’s such a magnificent skater and can be very creative. He just needs to stay smart. He was better last year then he has been so far this year. I think the second half we’ll see a better Jake.

  11. I concur with comments.. stay the course! Continue with developing from within and seek out deals that move the needle and not look for short term fix.

    Leafs are still very inconsistent with the way they play – and for the most part still searching for identity.

    Give the younger guys hope that one day, they can be part of the TML – always competing for Division/Conference titles and hopefully one day win the proverbial Lord Stanley Cup!

    We have Dermott, Liljegren, Rasanen, Kapanen, Aaltonen, Rosen, Grundstrohm, Ozhiganov (rumoured) etc..etc..

    There are players that I want to recommend but I know that it’s only wishful thinking. So I’ll keep it to myself so as to not sound like a “home”.

    I will say one thing, the Future looks bright.

    Go Leafs go.

    • Antonio the future has been bright since 1967 hasn’t it?

  12. Leafs need a top pairing D. Is Johnson worth trading for or do you get a similar D for less….

    • DS – Leafs don’t need a top pairing defenseman this year and no one is giving us one for Bozak or JVR – those are the only principals available right now. Thanks.

      • My general post was that a similar D to Johnson can be found for less than Columbus wants for him and his head issues

    • DS, I’m still sold on staying the course. I’m ok to trade something that is not Leaf future – UFA/ Leivo plus a minor player, but that type of deal is likely not getting us a Johnson or similar. We’ll have pretty good idea what the plans are in 4 weeks, if Dermott is not playing regularly, Leafs will likely make a move at D. This gives us time. I would prefer an upgrade to Polak if that is the case – again not Cole.

  13. Evander Kane is just as fast as the smaller scoring wingers today so add to his value his toughness along the boards and his hitting he is far from being “a player today that’s not effective”.

  14. CMB has both Dubinsky and Atkinson and Murray on IR. They have $5M in cap space. I know they have been rumored for a center BUT with Jack requesting a trade does a move like this help CMB…

    TO CMB: Nash (half salary eaten) & Smith (3yrs. left/$4.35m)
    TO NYR : Jack Johnson and a 3rd

    Not a center they have been looking for but it gives them certainty next season and beyond knowing they have another Dman signed. He also hits and grinds it out. Torts type of guy. Murray is an RFA so they can shop him in the off season for certain now. Nash helps cover their wing positions with all the injuries they have had. He can slide any side in the top 9. He isa solid 2 way forward. Not being one of the leaders expected too carry the team he may find less pressure and therefore rebound in the scoring area. No long term commitment either.

    NY gets Jack who can bring some offensive punch to the bottom pair. They can let Holden sit the press box and let Jack play with Kampfer. Then they can let him walk in the off season. Jack can run the 2nd P unit with MacTruck or Skjei getting more rest.

    Mac/Skjei
    Staal/Shatts
    Jack/Kamp

    • Weren’t these two off to SJ yesterday! I like your optimism on how many teams would even listen about taking on Smith! 👌

      • I try….I try…. LOL Just imagine when we sent Stepan if we took back the 2018 1st rounder from AZ instead of the 2017….we could of have a shot at Dahlin =*(

      • Heck I’d offer Nash(50%) and Smith to WPG for Toby Enstrom and a 3rd…..if I could at this point.

      • I might get so desperate enough to offer Staal AND Smith for Phaneuf LOL…. might…

    • The Rangers would love to send Smith for Johnson and watch that contract expire.
      I see Nash in California——

      The devil says Hank across the bridge makes the Islanders a playoff dark hors.

    • Oh, Hell no! There is no way that the CBJ fan base will accept Nash returning. Add in his age and lower production and that is just a bad trade. Plus, as I have repeatedly stated (And, hey! I happen to live in Columbus and am a Blue Jackets fan, so I just might have better insight than all of you.), the Jackets have d-man depth and plenty of wingers. We need center depth.

      • And like all the other fans of teams, on top of better in depth knowledge of your team, you also have inflated values for jackets players and undervaluation of other teams players.

      • Though that trade was bad for Columbus

    • NOBODY WANTS SMITH AND NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE HIM! Just 🛑

      • really!?? Relax man. It’s a fun site. As MEN, let’s not try to oder anyone around. Keep it light hearted.

      • After I eat sauerkraut I can oder anybody and everybody around

  15. Gardiner has come a long way in becoming better defensively, but he’s reached his potential in that regard, and if it is Babcock’s system or what Babcock wants, he is stagnating his offensive potential by deeming it okay to pass the puck to flat footed cherry pickers who can’t connect with the pass because they are either too far out or not in position to move quickly enough.

    I’m not sure how a player that is faster than forwards passing the puck to flatfoots who dump it in and aren’t willing to pay the price along the boards is maximizing potential.

    All I am seeing is less possession by the Leafs.

    Either Gardiner has lost his mind by switching styles of play, or Babcock is telling him to continue on this failed attempt to do 100 foot passes that don’t connect, or the forwards have no clue on what the game plan is.

    If you think Toronto is going to advance in the playoffs with this system, they’re not. I am not even convinced the playoffs are a certainty.

    When Kadri, JVR and Bozak are your top PP line, and Matthews watches from the bench, it’s time to wonder if there is a plan in place.

    Only in Toronto would the top centre be watching Bozak (and the eggs he carries in his pocket) play on the PP.

    • Did Babcock like Brendan Smith when he had him in DET???

      Wanna swap Gardiner for Smith? lol

    • I agree with you that Babcock has not optimized the Leafs line up with the way he uses players, however I am inclined to believe this isn’t a long term trend he intends to continue, and that it’s all being done with the intention of instilling an attitude that ice-time is to be earned through work and not just skill.

      There also seems to be shades of getting players comfortable with small amounts of responsibility, and easing them into bigger roles as veterans inevitably move out. The Leafs don’t seem to have deviated much from the plan, as they haven’t spent much on immediate upgrades, all despite a rabid fanbase that seems to want big moves to make them an immediate contender.

      There is some evidence that a transition is happening, Matthews is getting tougher match ups, He and Nylander’s 5 on 5 icetime is up considerably, Marner’s ice-time is trending up, and he is taking 5-5 icetime away from guys like Bozak and JVR.

      Some decisions seem to be very confidence based. He tries to get players minutes against softer competition when they are struggling. When you look at the games where either Marner or Nylander were demoted to the 4th line, the 4th line gets a lot more minutes than when Connor Brown or someone else is playing that spot. He also pours on tough minutes to players he likely isn’t worried about hurting development. Hainsey and Polak get lots of PK minutes, Komorov gets a ton of minutes against top lines, and even when he struggles, he doesn’t get displaced on that wing because Babcock likely doesn’t want to hurt the development of other players.

      He has even been more careful with Reilly this year. Last year Reilly struggled with tough match ups and huge minutes, to the point Babcock scaled both back. This year, Reilly has looked fantastic for most of the season, and has done a great job in tough match ups, but Babcock is still easing him into these minutes and he isn’t just dumping the most minutes on him.

      So as long as there is a transition process, I understand what Babcock is doing. He will probably always over reward a player he likes because of worth ethic, but I don’t think in the long run you will have guys like Brown and Komorov getting more ice-time than Marner, and I think Matthews will be up around 20 minutes a night and leading the forwards in PP time.

      • Danny, it’s the reason they brought Babcock in and paid him a king’s ransom. Babcock has the security he needs to properly nurture his young talent. He doesn’t have to win now, and understands “it’s a process” – how often have you heard him say that. He also often says, “they need to learn to win”. They lost a couple tough ones – both very winnable last week. We have St Louis after a number of days off, we likely don’t win this one.

  16. Man when will gms get smart … grab as many UFAs as you can during the summer with trade value like Kane and after one year trade them for 1st round picks and prospects and you’ll be set for the future and it never cost you anything from your current lineup

    • Frank, good strategy for teams that keep missing the playoffs. And, by the way, do you really think Kane will sign for one year as a UFA? He’s going to be a great rental, though, at the deadline. Don’t sleep on Vanek either.

    • Idea isn’t bad but you have to dig into your idea a bit.

      Not all good UFAs are going to sign for one year. 99% of them won’t sign for less than at least 3 seasons.

  17. Kane not only has all those attributes of a power forward and unlike many others has the speed.