The Toronto Maple Leafs have played – and lost – two pre-season games so far.
While this is embarrassingly exciting for the team that beat them, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been around long enough to know that the results of pre-season games are not relevant.
It’s all about the
And so far, so good.
The Leafs dressed a brutal lineup in the first game, and still managed to almost win. Nylander seems to be rocking the centre-ice position, Matthews is killing penalties, Easton Cowen is making some noise, Topi Niemela is going to make some people think, and Noah Gregor sounds like he’s going to make the team.
Of course we’re basing this off of two games that don’t count with unevenly matched rosters, so take it with a grain of salt.
The bottom line is that this Leafs season is going to be all about guys stepping up and earning jobs. The core is set, but most of the other spots on the team can be had if someone steps up.
Sure, Klingberg and Giordano are going to get first crack at the lineup, but it won’t be long before Topi Niemela forces his way onto the team, or the team trades Liljegren to make room for him.
And speaking of trades, one is going to go down any time.
Toronto Maple Leafs: A Trade Is Coming
The Toronto Maple Leafs new GM has not made a trade yet. You can bet his absolutely itching to get one done.
William Nylander makes $6 million dollars, is asking for more $10 and the team doesn’t have anyone within miles of being a real #1 NHL defenseman.
It would be weird if they didn’t act from a position of strength to address a position of weakness, since that’s basically the entire purpose of trading in the first place.
However, it would be shocking if such a monster trade went down in training camp. Most likely the team makes a move like that when they lose four in a row and wonder why other teams are cutting through their weakling blue-line like they are up again 100 different henchmen in a samurai movie.
The trade that the Leafs are going to make is going to feature enough cost-cutting to get the team under the cap and allow them to have a more flexible roster.
Calle Jarnkrok isn’t doing anything Alex Steeves or Nick Aburzzese can’t do.
Replacing Jarkkrok on the roster with someone making the league-minimum saves $1.3 million. That would leave the Leafs with just $900 K to clear.
Once you’re under a million, it’s pretty easy because with the AHL team in Toronto as well, most of the time you can get by with carrying just two extra players instead of three. If they wanted to carry a full roster, replacing Lafferty and Timmins with two guys making the league minimum would get them all the way under the cap.
That is a lot of movement, so I think they’d get rid of Liljegren, who makes $1.5 and who the coach doesn’t trust to play in the playoffs and who looks stuck, yet again, on the third pairing.
Jarnkrok and Liljegren for picks the Leafs can use later is probably a sensible move heading into the new season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have options though, one of which is to see if anyone gets injured and can go on the LTIR before camp is over. That isn’t optimal, but it would buy them time.
Regardless, all signs point to a trade very soon.