The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for the Predator’s first-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft, plus forwards Brendan Leipsic and Olli Jokinen.

Leafs trade Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson (right) to the Predators.

Toronto Maple Leafs Leafs trade Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson (right) to the Nashville Predators.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long-anticipated first significant step in the Maple Leafs roster rebuild has finally taken place. To no one’s surprise, it’s a deal for the future (first-rounder and a prospect) and a placeholder (Jokinen) for the remainder of the season.

I’m not surprised by the Predators acquisition of Santorelli. It’s been widely reported they sought depth for their checking lines and the versatile, well-traveled Santorelli (who began his NHL career in Nashville) should certainly address that need. GM David Poile also scoops Santorelli from the New York Rangers, who were believed very interested in him, so a nice coup there by Poile.

 Franson was linked to the Predators for some time, but I assumed the Leafs would hang onto him a little longer in hopes of generating more interest from other clubs. It was reported the Leafs wanted a first-round pick for Franson, so evidently they decided to move on this offer. Franson’s a UFA this summer and the Preds are a budget team, so it’ll be interesting to see if he becomes a mere rental player or if he stays in Nashville beyond this season.

In summary, Preds used their cap space ($11 million) to address their needs and bolster their lineup for the playoffs, while the Leafs got the best return they could in the first of what’s expected to be several roster sell-offs this year.