Toronto Maple Leafs: How will Jack Hughes draft impact team moves?

Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

How much impact does the “Who gets Jack?” question have on what the Toronto Maple Leafs can do this season to make a run?

As the Toronto Maple Leafs and the rest of the NHL are well aware, Jack Hughes is the projected number one pick of the 2019 Draft. And why wouldn’t he be?

Hughes is one of those “generational” players that every team covets. What makes him even more valuable is that he is a centre.

It is a tough job to quantify the value of what a player of this stature can do to a franchise. Rasmus Dahlin was selected by the Buffalo Sabres this past draft and, while making the unconventional jump directly to the show, has made a measurable impact on their lineup.

Hughes is projected to do the same. So how does this affect a Leafs team trying to do something that this team has not done for 51 years?

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The NHL Draft is a lottery now (new news I bet!) which challenges my opinion. However, hear me out regardless.

The St. Louis Blues have been rumoured as trade partners for the Leafs, with regards to moving Alex Pietrangelo. Would this fill a glaring need for a Leafs team that needs a top line D-man who is a right-hand shot and has a contract for two Cup runs?

Yes….yes it would.

Pietrangelo’s contract is a cap hit of $6.5 million for this and next season. This would mean you could wave goodbye to Jake Gardiner (which you may have to do anyway this summer), unless you move someone like Nikita Zaitsev as part of a package.

What else would have to be in that package? This is where the Hughes questions comes in to play.

If St. Louis is ready to acknowledge the statement of “rebuild”, which seems to be a curse word in the realm of Pro sports, then perhaps they can take some solace in their position in the draft lottery. With the trading of Pietrangelo, they could, without actually saying so, “tank” this season and put themselves in a prime position to draft Hughes.

I think the starting block for any talks is a defenceman from the Leafs, even if it is just a balancing piece. Three names come to mind and those are: Zaitsev, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin.

The last two names….Nope! After this, it is a matter of what St. Louis would want to build on.

Putting Kasperi Kapanen out there would for sure get talks moving, even though I hate to even think about it because of what his speed can do to change a game. However, you can’t make a change without giving something up.

Now, depending on the date of talks, this might be a deal in and of itself. Two young NHL ready players, one with a very controllable contract and another who is turning RFA this summer but you have the money to spend on.

If these talks go further towards the trade deadline, then maybe picks start to come in to play. The Blues are going to lose one first round pick this year or next depending on what they desire to do, so maybe putting in a pick next year at a higher round — second or third — gets it done.

The draw of this for both teams is that the Toronto Maple Leafs have a bounty of young players to give up; the Blues have a player that the Leafs need. The Blues are also looking at a player who may supremely alter their team for the foreseeable future in Hughes.

Why not surround him with some young talent that tells him, and the guys in the room, that you are playoff competitive for a long time.

The thing that is driving me nuts lately is the tendency of Leaf fans to constantly complain about this team and where they are going. I have no intention to exacerbate this thread as I find it ridiculous and unfounded.

Next. Is Wayne Simmonds a trade target for the Leafs?. dark

I have never been a fan of a Toronto Maple Leafs team with this kind of talent before. I am going to enjoy it; maybe you should too.