Toronto Maple Leafs: Galaxy Braining the Expansion Draft

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs should protect Travis Dermott.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Should protect Justin Holl.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should protect Alex Kerfoot.

No, nope, nada.  They should do no such thing.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should get creative and smart, and approach the expansion draft as the gift that it is.

Galaxy Braining the E-Draft

The rules stipulate that you can protect ten players as long as you only protect three defenseman, but if you want to protect four defenseman, you can only protect eight players.

The Leafs have to protect Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Rielly, Muzzin and Brodie. This is where their top-heavy roster construction really pays off.  Who cares if they lose Dermott, Holl or Kerfoot?  Useful players sure, but no one you’re committed to long-term, and none of them are irreplaceable.

Most teams would resign themselves to losing a player, and some teams (as we saw last time) will pay to keep the players they want.  A smart team can work this to their advantage.

The first thing the Leafs would need in order to game the system would be to trade their three most likely to be drafted players.  Given that any team they trade with will need to have spots available for protection, the market will probably be pretty small, but you could still get something for Holl, Dermott and Kerfoot and that’s better than losing one of them for nothing.

A few draft picks come in, and you clear about $7 million off the books.  If you plan to let Andersen and Hyman walk, you’ve now got quite a lot of money.  You can trade something to the Hurricanes for the rights to sign Dougie Hamilton prior to the expansion draft, then you sign him and protect four defenseman and four forwards. Hamilton should be the Leafs top off-season priority, but more on that tomorrow.

Alternatively, with extra protection spots, you can get probably find some sweet deals on players who wouldn’t otherwise be available.  In order to prevent the Vegas Knights from taking players they wanted to keep, teams like the Ducks and Panthers gave them players who would eventually become stars (Marchessault, Theodore).  If the Leafs can take on players, they might be able to offer more than the Kraken can for players in similar situations this year.

The Avalanche might have to expose or trade Ryan Graves or Samuel Girard.  The Blues might lose Vince Dunn….There are a lot of nice options that the Leafs could potentially pick up that would be improvements on Dermott, Holl and kerfoot.

Next. Where Will Andersen End Up?. dark

The Leafs shouldn’t be content to lose a valuable asset for free, nor is it worth paying Seattle to make sure they don’t take whichever player the Leafs prefer out of their enticing players.