Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Deadline Preview


Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Deadline Preview

Trade deadline day has become an annual tradition for hockey fans, especially in Canada. TSN and Rogers Sportsnet will feature up to 10 hours of coverage where they hope they will be busy with news about breaking trades, teams in the playoff hunt and the upcoming draft.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have been busier than usual this season, trying to unload expiring contracts for future assets, including the shocking deal that sent David Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets. However the one question on everybody’s minds is whether or not the Leafs will move core players that carries a significant cap hit and contract length. Here is a list of players that could be on the Leafs trading block.

Tyler Bozak

Cap hit:$4.2 million until 2017-2018

Season Stats:


Oct 31, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Leafs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Say what you want about Don Cherry, but when it comes to Bozak he was right about one thing. The Leafs overpaid to keep him, because they knew that it would make it easier to sign Phil Kessel to a contract extension. Well the Leafs were able to get both players re-signed and now it looks like the bromance could be coming to an end in Toronto. Bozak is not a difficult player to trade, unless teams do not value him as a second line center.His contract is not totally unreasonable, but when he goes on these cold streaks he plays more like a player with $3.5 million cap hit. With the amount the Leafs have on their cap in terms of buyouts and retained salary, they would probably want to deal Bozak without obtaining salary. This could lower the value they can get for Bozak, but he can bring future assets that will be more valuable for the team moving forward.

Teams that could be interested in Tyler Bozak may include the Arizona Coyotes, the New York Rangers, the Edmonton Oilers and even the Calgary Flames.

Verdict: I am leaning towards Bozak being traded, but it all depends on how interested teams are in him at the deadline. If he is not traded at the deadline, teams will most likely try to acquire Bozak in the summer when there is a clearer idea of free agency and the salary cap.

Joffrey Lupul

Cap hit: $5.25 million until 2017-2018

Season stats:


Dec 2, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (19) skates against the Dallas Stars at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Dallas 5-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Lupul’s career will most likely be defined by his injury history, because no matter what he tries to do he has been unable to remain healthy over the course of a season. This season has been a struggle for him, especially with the recent knee injury which has been tough for him to come back from. Since returning he has not been much of an impact on the ice, which could be because he is still trying to get back to speed. Or maybe he is just one goal away from getting back on track. Is he a risk that some teams would be willing to take? A contender would probably not want to take that risk, especially with his cap hit and unreliability. What he does have is a great locker room presence and high compete level but is it enough to justify his contract?

Interested teams could be the Calgary Flames, the Colorado Avalanche and basically anyone that could take the cap hit and needs a veteran presence.

Verdict: It is highly unlikely that Lupul is traded – even this summer – because it could be too much of a risk for a team give up assets with all the uncertainty with Lupul. The Los Angeles Kings were close to getting Lupul, but got a more reliable option in Marian Gaborik, so most teams will try to look at other options before considering Lupul.

Olli Jokinen

Cap hit: $2.5 million expiring this summer.

Season stats:


Feb 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Olli Jokinen (11) warms up prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs will try to find a playoff team that will take Jokinen, but it is going to be a hard sell with his cap hit and tough season. It has been weird that Jokinen went from scoring 18 goals last season to only 3 so far this season. He has battled inconsistency over the past few years – scoring 7 goals in 2012-2013, then bouncing back with 18 goals the year after. He has only appeared in the playoffs once in his career with the Calgary Flames, scoring two goals and adding three assists for five points in six games. So a team could try to get Jokinen and hope that he can elevate his game as a third line centre at least.

The Detroit Red Wings could be interested, with the injuries they have with their forwards. Maybe the Anaheim Ducks will try to make a run at Jokinen, to compliment their depth upfront.

Verdict: Unless the Leafs overprice Jokinen, it is hard to see him staying past the deadline and it probably became a priority of Dave Nonis’ once he got rid of the other expiring deals.

Phil Kessel

Cap hit: $8 million until 2021-2022

Season stats:


Feb 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) steps onto the ice before the start of their game against the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying Kessel has the skills that contending teams would crave to have. The reason why it has not worked out in Toronto is because the Leafs wanted him to be the franchise player to lead this team. Unfortunately goal scorers do not typically succeed as the franchise player, because they should possess other attributes like good defensive play, and leadership. So if the Leafs want to move forward they either trade Kessel to get the pieces that can set the Leafs on the right path or bring in the franchise player to take some of the weight off his shoulders. It is, however, more likely that management wants to move on from Kessel if they can.

Verdict: Don’t expect Kessel to be moved at the trade deadline, but by no means should this be the end of the trade speculation surrounding him. Evander Kane brought a decent return for the Winnipeg Jets, so the Leafs will use that as a starting block for a trade. It will be very likely that the Leafs try to trade Kessel at the draft.

Dion Phaneuf

Cap hit: $ 7 million until 2020-2021

Season stats:


Jan 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) passes in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild win 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The hardest player to trade on the Leafs has to be Phaneuf, because they covet him very much but he is seen as an overvalued player. Most analysts say Phaneuf’s $7 million cap hit is too much for teams to pay for someone that has the skills to play as a second pairing defenceman. Many people believe that if the Leafs want to get value for Phaneuf they need to retain salary, which is a hard decision to make because that would stay with the Leafs for more than six years. Phaneuf’s inability to succeed is because he was miscast in Toronto and his skills were diminished during his time in Calgary.

The Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Florida Panthers would be example of teams that could use Phaneuf, because of the skills he possesses if he is put in the right position.

Verdict: The only way Phaneuf gets traded at the deadline is if the Leafs retain salary. A deal during the summer may be easier to make when it comes to the salary cap, but teams might be desperate enough to make a serious run at Phaneuf. Plus the Leafs have been seriously considering making a deal for their captain a priority at the deadline, but it is unlikely the Leafs pull the trigger on a deal.

Jonathan Bernier

Cap hit: $2.9 million ending this summer (RFA)

Season stats:


Dec 23, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) faces the Dallas Stars attack during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Maple Leafs shut out the Stars 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs made the trade for Bernier to accomplish two things. One was to create a competition in net between him and James Reimer in order to push each other and see who would become the Leafs next number one goalie. The other was to try and cover up the real reason why the Leafs lost that series against the Bruins. Unfortunately this has not been the case and now they have to decide whether they want to sign him to an extension. If he wants top money, it would be better served for the Leafs to avoid giving a long term extension to Bernier. If a team that needs an upgrade in goal inquires about Bernier, the Leafs should be interested.

A team like the San Jose, Edmonton and Dallas may be interested in getting him, because of how goaltending has not been great this season for them.

Verdict: The Leafs are in no rush to trade Bernier so it is unlikely that they get rid of him until they get a better understanding of his contract demands.

Roman Polak

Cap hit: $2.75 million until 2015-2016

Season stats:


Nov 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak (46) lines up before a face-off against the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Rangers 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

A heart and soul player that has been a great leader on and off the ice, especially when he called out the Leafs for not having every player committed to playing the way necessary to succeed. A lot of teams would definitely be interested in Polak, because of the style of play that he brings every night. It is the type of play needed for the playoffs and that screams to a lot of contending teams.

Consider a lot of playoff teams as potential destinations for Polak, but one that has been non-stop is Montreal. However the Leafs may not want to do that deal.

Verdict: It would seem like Polak could seriously be moved. However management may want a guy like Polak on the team to be a role model for the younger players, so it would be unlikely he gets traded at all unless a team is willing to overpay for him.

This could be one of the busiest trade deadlines for the Leafs in recent years or they could be satisfied with what they have accomplished and wait until the draft before making any more moves. However they would be wise to keep dangling names out there and hope that a team takes interest.