Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Storylines Heading Into the Draft and Offseason

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8. Trade Targets

Anthony Mantha and Teemu Pulkkinen were pieces the Leafs were interested in acquiring as a part of a trade involving Phaneuf, as reported by Sportsnet‘s Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman. With Babcock in the fold, are one of those players still on the Leafs radar?

Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Anthony Mantha poses for a photo with team officials after being introduced as the number twenty overall pick to the Detroit Red Wings during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

In Mantha’s first season with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL, he struggled with the transition. One of the reasons that contributed to his struggles, was a fractured left tibia injury he suffered before the season started. Before the injury, many expected Mantha to make the jump right to the NHL right from the QMJHL, where he had impressive numbers. In his final season with Val d’Or, he had 57 goals- 63 assists- 120 points in 57 games.

Apr 4, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Detroit Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen (56) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Red Wings defeated the Wild 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Pulkkinen is another prospect that Babcock would be familiar with as well, but one the Leafs would have a tough time trying to get out of Detroit. In 46 games with the Griffins, Pulkkinen had 34 goals- 27 assists- 61 points then he got promoted to NHL and played 31 games for the Red Wings, where he only had eight points. Babcock hinted Pulkkinen might not be ready for a full gig in the NHL, when the team called him up for the second time last season, but he knows he will be a good player.

With Jeff Blashill named the replacement for Babcock in Detroit, it is unlikely we will see Pulkkinen on the trade market. The former coach of the Griffins will probably give Pulkkinen a good chance to crack the NHL full time next season. That leaves Mantha as a viable candidate for a trade. At 6-4, 214 pounds he has the size and skill to be a solid top six winger, possibly behind JVR as the second line left winger. However, if the Leafs do acquire him, they would probably want him to spend another season in the AHL, so he can continue developing and get his confidence back.

Ryan O’Reilly is a name many people have speculated as being a big possibility, given the issues he has had with the Colorado Avalanche. He signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames when the Avalanche refused to give him a pay raise. At that point many people were wondering how long O’Reilly would stick around in Colorado. He is a UFA at the end of next season and carries a $6M cap hit. He will probably be looking for an extension at the same cap hit. There were reports that Colorado was shopping O’Reilly, but GM Joe Sakic has recently denied those rumours. Sakic knows how valuable he is to the team, so really it is up to whether O’Reilly wants to stay in Denver. If he does not, then the Leafs will be one of the teams calling to make an offer for O’Reilly.

Is he valued as a number one center to the Avalanche? When it comes to his trade value and value on the free agent market, he has that interest, but what would it take for the Leafs to acquire him? Some people mentioned a trade involving Gardiner, Bozak and a pick, while others have mentioned a trade involving Phaneuf. The Avalanche biggest need is on defence. Gardiner is an option, but Elliotte Friedman reported that Colorado wants a “significant defenseman”. Look for a decision involving O’Reilly to come sooner rather than later, as the Avalanche want a contract to be worked out before the start of the season. The 24 year old will get a lot of interest, which may drive the price really high, but for someone who is a solid two way player on the rise, expect the Leafs to make a serious offer for him.