Latest on the Leafs & Canucks – September 21, 2017
Speculation over the Toronto Maple Leafs trading for a defenseman, plus the Vancouver Canucks could face a tricky situation with blueliner Erik Gudbranson.
TSN: Gord Miller and Dave Poulin joined Leafs Lunch co-host Andi Petrillo yesterday discussing the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs shopping for a defenseman before the start of the upcoming season or early in the season.
Miller feels there’s a “50 percent chance” the Leafs are looking around for a blueliner and could offer up one of their good young forwards in return. Poulin doesn’t know who could move, suggesting it could be a good young prospect. They singled out Martin Marincin’s preseason struggles as a reason why they could go shopping for help.
As for potential trade targets, the Los Angeles Kings were brought up, but Poulin sees them in transition and doesn’t think they have available blueline assets. Miller said the Anaheim Ducks would make the most sense, but with Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm sidelined by injuries for months, he doesn’t think they’re a fit. Petrillo notes the Vegas Golden Knights have plenty of defensemen but Miller doesn’t think they have what the Leafs want. Miller is intrigued by the Dallas Stars, wondering if the Leafs would take a chance on one of their young blueliners.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Roman Polak, who’s in Leafs training camp on a professional tryout on a professional tryout offer, could end up being in the club’s blueline plans in the sixth or seventh spot. He also suggests the “defensive upgrade that most see inevitable via trade could come sooner than later by cashing in one of their forwards for a veteran.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Leafs are talking with other clubs in search of blueline depth before the start of the season. I can also see them waiting to see how things unfold in the early weeks of 2017-18 before pulling the trigger, which could include bringing back Polak to start the season.
I agree with the panel’s take on possible trade partners, though I would add the Carolina Hurricanes as a possibility. They’re loaded with good young defensemen and could use more scoring punch, but I think Canes GM Ron Francis will remain patient and see how the season unfolds.
THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough reports the 2017-18 season could prove crucial to defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s future with the Vancouver Canucks. If he rebounds from last season’s struggles, he could get a long-term contract extension early in the new year. Another poor performance, however, and the Canucks could be stuck with a low-value asset entering the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
If Gudbranson bounces back but proves too expensive to re-sign, the Canucks could shop him near the deadline. Brough also noted Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon attempted to reacquire Gudbranson this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson’s status will be worth watching this season. He could become a decent rental player for postseason contenders seeking a gritty blueline presence.