Tyler Bozak could be the Maple Leafs next trade candidate, while former Leaf Cody Franson remains available via free agency.
Bozak next Leaf to hit the trade block?
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: In the wake of the Phil Kessel trade, James Mirtle speculates over which member of the Toronto Maple Leafs could hit the trade block next. He doesn’t believe defenseman and team captain Dion Phaneuf will be dealt, noting the Leafs prefer a return that includes a good prospect and no salary retained on their books.” He considers winger Joffrey Lupul difficult to move because of his contract and injury history. Mirtle claims the Leafs were getting interest and offers on center Tyler Bozak “for a while”, with the Arizona Coyotes the best fit before they signed Antoine Vermette.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs seem willing to listen to offers for Phaneuf, but they seem willing to bring him back next season and see if his performance improves under new head coach Mike Babcock. Lupul’s contract ($5.25 million to 2017-18) could be movable if it weren’t for his injury history. Considering only three teams are now below the cap floor (and won’t have any difficulty reaching it), I doubt there’s a fit with any of those clubs.
Bozak, earning $4.2 million annually for three more seasons and coming off a career-best in goals (23) and tying a career-high in points (49) seems a more attractive candidate, though there will be questions over whether he can put up those numbers without a scoring star like now-former teammate Phil Kessel on his wing. Still, there should be some interest in him, though it could now be harder to find a fit than it was a week ago. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but there were more potential destinations available heading into the NHL Draft and the opening of the UFA market. The Coyotes are likely out now that they’ve brought back Vermette.
Where will Franson land?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples notes former Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson remains available in the UFA market. He cites reports linking the 27-year-old blueliner to the Leafs, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars prior to the start of the UFA period. Staples also notes speculation Franson’s asking price could reach $6.5 million per season. Even if his asking price drops, Staples doubts the Oilers pursue Franson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers can afford Franson but they won’t pony up big bucks to get him, especially after signing Andrej Sekera. The Flames are already deep on defense with seven blueliners under one-way contracts for next season, so I don’t believe Franson’s a fit there. The Sharks signed Paul Martin so that eliminates them from the Franson bidding pool. They now have $1.6 million in cap space after signing Joel Ward yesterday. The Stars have sufficient cap space for Franson, but I don’t see them agreeing to $6.5 million per season for him. That leaves the Leafs, with over $14 million in cap space, but are they keen for a Franson redux?