A look at which Toronto Maple Leafs players could be staying or going, Cody Franson is struggling with the Nashville Predators, and the Edmonton Oilers could have two draft lottery picks this year.
Playing “Who Stays, Who Goes” in Leaf Land.
SPORTNET: Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean offered up their take on which players the Toronto Maple Leafs retain and which ones could be dealt or allowed to depart via free agency this summer. Kypreos believes Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak will be traded this summer. He feels Kessel should be dealt to a contending team. He also feels Joffrey Lupul makes too much money for the amount of time spent on the ice and not on IR. MacLean believes David Booth won’t be re-signed and feels Nazem Kadri remains an important part of their future. Kypreos also believes defenseman Dion Phaneuf will be dealt. MacLean doubts Eric Brewer returns, and he also doubts the Leafs can do better in goal than Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Get ready for over two months of this guessing game over who stays or goes in Toronto. Could Kessel, Phaneuf, Bozak and/or Lupul be moved? Sure, but it’s easier said than done, especially given their expensive contracts. Prior to the trade deadline it was rumored two Western Conference clubs had interest in Kessel. Talks with the Detroit Red Wings regarding Phaneuf fell through on deadline day but could be revisited in the offseason. There was speculation last summer the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators had interest in Lupul, but given his injury history and the play of both clubs this season I doubt either team will revisit interest in him. Bozak could be attractive to clubs with cap space seeking depth at center, like Arizona, Edmonton and perhaps Florida.
Franson struggling in Nashville.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford recently wondered what’s wrong with defenseman Cody Franson, who’s been struggling since joining the Nashville Predators in a trade from Toronto in February. After 32 points in 55 games while averaging over 21 minutes of ice time with the Leafs, the 27-year-old Franson is averaging over 16 minutes per game with the Predators and has only four points in 21 games. Halford suggests Franson’s struggles could have an adverse effect upon his value in this summer’s UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Halford suggests, it could give the perception that Franson is only capable of putting up good numbers on a bad team. Franson is on a one-year deal earning $3.3 million. The trade to Nashville could hurt his hopes for a lucrative long-term deal.
Oilers could have two draft lottery picks.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis recently observed if the Pittsburgh Penguins should miss the playoffs, their first-round pick will become eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft lottery. Unfortunately for the Penguins, that pick belongs to the Edmonton Oilers, as it was part of the return when they acquired winger David Perron in a mid-season trade with the Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Willis points out, it’s a long shot. Even if the Penguins miss the playoffs, that pick has a 1.0 percent chance of becoming first overall in the draft lottery. The Oilers currently hold the third-worst record in the league. If the pick they received from the Penguins ends up becoming first overall, their own first-round pick will be fourth overall. That means they’ll not only have the opportunity to select Connor McDavid, they’ll also have a shot at drafting McDavid’s Erie Otters teammate Dylan Strome, Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin or Kingston Frontenacs winger Lawson Crouse.