Toronto Maple Leafs: Monday Morning Leaf Points


Leafs Nation are a passionate bunch! We wear our hearts on our sleeves and aren’t afraid to fight to make a point so it’s always an exciting time when a new trade rumor, free agent signing, or other Toronto Maple Leafs news hits the web. Every Monday morning, I’ll break down what’s “in the news” and give you my perspective. You know what they say about opinions. This is…


On the Stanley Cup…

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the 2015 Stanley Cup! Now let the games begin!!! #scorchedearth

On Leafs Management Team…

Who will take the general manager’s seat in the Leaf offices has been a hot topic recently but the Leafs have apparently divided some of those duties up with the draft less than a week away. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Mark Hunter has put all of his focus on selections for this week’s draft. The club has also informed other teams in the league that all trade discussions will go through Kyle Dubas which is a huge responsibility for the 28-year old.

As much as I have enjoyed watching the Leafs changes over the past couple of months, I can’t help but wonder if not naming an experienced GM before the draft will come back to haunt them. This is a very important time for this organization and it cannot be mishandled. Failure to turn the team’s “assets” over for value can set this rebuild back years. I’m crossing my fingers on this one.

On Phil Kessel…

Kessel seems to be THE hot commodity on the trade market as the draft approaches but ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun is reporting that at least two NHL executives think that the Leafs are asking too much for the 27-year old winger.

“They’re going to have to eat more of his salary than they think right now,” said one of them.

This isn’t much of a surprise really. In fact, it’s nice to hear. It shows that the Leafs are not just “auctioning him off to the highest bidder.” Kessel is, with all due respect to Patrick Sharp and possibly Ryan O’Reilly, the “crown jewel” available on the trade market right now. He’s an elite player and deserves a premium return. Teams will have to pay to get him. A first-round pick, elite prospect, and a salary dump is the bare minimum I would even consider in return for Kessel.

I would be very surprised if the Leafs have to eat any salary in a deal involving Kessel. NHL rules state that team can only have partial salaries of three former players on their payroll at one time. Carl Gunnarson will remain on the Leafs’ payroll for this season while Daniel Winnik falls off when his contract expires on July 1. That leaves two spots which I would imagine are being held for Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul.

For those of you who feel that the Leafs aren’t actually trying to deal Kessel at all…

From From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet: “Toronto’s let it be known it will take salary back for Phil Kessel, but there is a limit. It’s got to be less (in term and value) than Kessel’s. The Maple Leafs are more interested in prospects and draft picks, but recognize that alone won’t get a deal done. Since the idea is to help create cap flexibility, it doesn’t make sense to receive a similar contract in return.”

From Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun: “What i’m hearing: Brendan Shanahan doesn’t love Phil Kessel and neither does new coach, Mike Babcock. They want him gone. But they want to make a hockey trade, not make Kessel an expensive garage-sale item. The pair of Shanahan and Babcock doesn’t dislike captain Dion Phaneuf the way they do Kessel”

On Dion Phaneuf…

Have not heard any more about last week’s rumor du jour that had Phaneuf going to Colorado even though the O’Reilly to Toronto rumors continue to pop up around the web.

Mar 23, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf (3) and Minnesota Wild forward Kyle Brodziak (21) fight during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Minnesota defeated Toronto 2-1. Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

According to Sportsnet’s Damian Cox, the Detroit Red Wings have had a change of heart regarding top prospect Anthony Mantha after a poor season in the AHL. This after Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano expressed his disappointment with Mantha last month.

This, coupled with the fact that the Wings are apparently in the market for a second pairing defenseman with “a little mean” in him, has some thinking that the Leafs should be on the phone with Detroit right now revisiting the deal that almost happened at the trade deadline. The trade, which was also supposed to include 26-year old defenseman Brendan Smith and salary dump Stephen Weiss for Phaneuf, was apparently shelved when Detroit GM Ken Holland refused to give up Mantha. On Friday, Detroit reporter Ansar Khan shot down that possibility.

My take? Never say never. With the Wings considering buying out Weiss, wouldn’t it be just as smart for them to trade his $4.9 mil contract to the Leafs while taking on Dion? It would almost be like getting Phaneuf for well under $5 mil per season which is a bargain by today’s standards.

On Zach Hyman…

On Friday, the Leafs announced that they had acquired the rights to Toronto-born forward Zach Hyman of the NCAA Michigan Wolverines and a conditional 7th-round pick in 2017 from Florida for 23-year old forward Greg McKegg.

Back in April, Hyman informed the Panthers that he would not be signing with them. The Leafs were given permission to talk with Hyman on Thursday before making the deal. They now have until August 15 to sign him and will only get the 7th-round pick if they fail to get his name on a contract. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, that won’t be a problem.

This is a win-win situation for the Leafs. McKegg is the same age as Hyman but was quickly being lost in the growing depth of the organization. Hyman will join William Nylander, Connor Brown, Brandon Leipsic, Frederik Gauthier, Casey Bailey, Stuart Percy, Viktor Loov, Rinat Valiev, Petter Granberg, and the 2015 draftees as the Leafs stock the cupboards for the rebuild.

Hyman was the 2011 Ontario Junior Hockey League Player of the year with the Hamilton Red wings after scoring 42 goals and 60 assists in just 43 games before moving on to Michigan. This past season, Hyman was a Hobey Baker finalist after scoring 22 goals and 54 points in 37 games with the Wolverines.

On Jonathan Bernier and his baby…

Pandemonium broke out on Wednesday when Bernier’s fiance’ posted a picture of their ten-month old son on Instagram. How could people get so worked up about a picture of a baby? It wasn’t the baby himself, but the outfit he was wearing, that caused the controversy. After months of posting baby pictures of the child, Wednesday’s was missing the trademark Leaf logos from his onesie leaving rabid hockey fans to believe that Bernier would not be with the club in the near future.

When asked by one fan why the logos weren’t there, Bernier’s fiance’ Martine Forget replied, “It’s for a reason but I can’t tell anyone now.”

The following day, it was announced that the Leafs had filed for club-elected salary arbitration with Bernier. He will become a restricted free agent on July 1 and is said to be asking for a long-term deal and a raise from the two-year $5.8 million deal he signed in 2013.

Mar 21, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) takes a pause during a break in action in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know much about baby apparel or the couple’s reasoning for covering up the Leaf branding on the baby’s jumper but I will say this. I think Bernier is available if the right deal comes along. I just don’t see the Leafs wanting to give a long-term deal and that kind of money to a goalie who has struggled to find his consistency and has yet to prove that he can be a #1 NHL goaltender.

The two teams most rumoured to be interested in him are the Edmonton Oilers  and the San Jose Sharks. Edmonton has the #15 pick in Friday’s draft and San Jose the #9. If either of those picks are dangled as part of any Bernier deal, the Leafs will listen.

On Cody Hodgson…

There are rumors out there that the Sabres are about to buy out Hodgson who has 4 years left on his contract worth $4.25 mil per season. If Buffalo ends up buying him out, Hodgson’s “intriguing” at the right price and ONLY at the right price. So far, he has yet to come close to the player he was projected to be offensively. I would be weary for that reason.

On the Toronto Maple Leafs draft…

The Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby is reporting that the Leafs are very interested in Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ivan Provorov. To those of you who are stuck in Strome-Marner-Hanafin mode; here’s the scoop from elite prospects.

He may not have the offensive upside of Hanafin, but there are reports that Provorov may be the only other player other than McDavid and Eichel that is ready to play in the NHL immediately. Many believe that the Leafs would be willing to trade the #4 pick for a later pick + if it meant they could still get the young Russian. I believe it’s more likely they they are trying to acquire at least one more pick in the Top 10 in a trade involving Kessel or Phaneuf.

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On the New Jersey Devils…

The Devils have let it be known that they are looking for scoring and have been linked to Phil Kessel in recent months. They are an older team and have not shown any interest in the full rebuild route that the Leafs have apparently chosen. It has been suggested that Kessel may be too expensive for them but that doesn’t eliminate them as a potential trade partner. How would James Van Riemsdyk look on a line with Travis Zajac? Don’t be surprised if the Devils come knocking and Brendan Shanahan will surely answer. That brings us to…


Would you trade JVR to the Devils for the #6 pick in Friday’s draft straight up? If not… what would it take for the Devils to get JVR to Jersey?

That’s if for this week! If you have any questions or would like me to address any Leaf-related issues in a future edition of Leaf Points then you can email me at: or hit me up on Twitter @robb_ellis

Until next week… enjoy the draft Friday and… KEEP IT BLUE!

Next: Leafs: Kyle Dubas Running Trade Talk

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