Latest on the Leafs, Senators and Coyotes – March 9, 2017
Examining how the Toronto Maple Leafs can improve their defense, the Ottawa Senators pursuit of Patrick Sharp and the Arizona Coyotes’ depth in draft picks in your NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle examined how the Toronto Maple Leafs could improve their defense corps in the offseason. He believes they need a top-pairing blueliner and a depth d-man. He speculates the expansion draft in June could force teams carrying lots of good young defensemen, such as the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, into some “uncomfortable choices” that the Leafs could exploit.
Mirtle doesn’t believe young stars such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will be used as trade bait to land a top defenseman. He said all the trade talk this season regarding Nylander isn’t coming from the Leafs. Mirtle also gets the feeling they’re frustrated that the youngster keeps popping up in unsubstantiated rumors. He suggests veteran winger James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak as possible trade candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Leafs will be busy via the trade and/or free agent markets to improve their blueline. The Ducks, Wild, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks carry lots of promising young d-men and are the most likely trade partners for Toronto.
Nylander would certainly fetch a quality defenseman, but I agree with Mirtle that van Riemsdyk or Bozak are more likely to be dangled as trade bait. A stumbling block is their respective contracts, as they both only have a year remaining on their current deals. Both, however, can be re-signed to contract extensions starting on July 1, so perhaps there’s room for a possible sign-and-trade scenario.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan reports the Senators attempted to acquire veteran winger Patrick Sharp from the Dallas Stars before the recent NHL trade deadline. However, Sharp wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to come to Ottawa.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, safe to say the Sens won’t be on Sharp’s list of preferred destinations as a free agent this summer?
ARIZONA CENTRAL: Sarah McLellan recently reported the Arizona Coyotes depth in draft picks in this year’s draft could provide some flexibility to use some as trade bait before the draft in June. They currently have seven selections in the 2017 draft, including two in the first round and two in the third. GM John Chayka could use them to acquire established players from teams at risk of losing such players in the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That first round pick they got from the Minnesota Wild is the most likely to be used to pry an established player away from a club at risk of losing one to Vegas in the expansion draft.