Everything in play as Leafs fully invested in winning now
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ lack of 2022 draft picks has prompted questions about how this will impact their commitment to going all in this year.
It’s fair to call the remainder of the 2021-22 season an important and pressure-packed one for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Another first round playoff exit could mean the end of the line in Southern Ontario for general manager Kyle Dubas and potentially president Brendan Shanahan.
In theory, this means the Leafs are fully invested in putting themselves in position to win now. This includes taking any necessary steps to improve the roster ahead of the Mar. 21 trade deadline.
Making any such trades will be challenging, given how tight Toronto’s salary cap situation is. In this respect, moving the likes of Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million AAV) and/or Ilya Mikheyev ($1.645 million) would appear to be a priority.
High round draft picks could also prove invaluable, in order to entice other teams to do business with the Leafs. The question is, will Toronto be compromised in any way by their lack of selections in 2022?
As things stand, the Leafs only have first and second round picks available for July’s draft. However, Jonas Siegle of The Athletic does not consider this an issue.
For a start, Siegle believes Toronto will not have to send their 2022 seventh round draft pick to the Minnesota Wild. He predicts that Brennan Menell — who has yet to play for the Leafs — won’t appear in 30 games this season.
Of course even this would still only leave the Leafs with three selections for July’s draft, but Siegle remains convinced they are prepared to move their top pick. As he writes, the team moved their first rounders in 2019 and 2021.
As far as Siegle is concerned, the Leafs are in win-now mode. As such, nothing is off the table.
There is no denying high draft picks are invaluable for an organisation, as they usually have the future in mind during their attempts to build a long-term contender. However, if Dubas and Shanahan are concerned about their job security, it makes sense they would alter their mindset.
This brings to mind Alex Anthopoulos’ approach toward the end of his tenure as Toronto Blue Jays general manager. After no postseason appearances during his first five years as GM, he threw caution to the wind.
Anthopoulos’ new approach saw him give up top prospects, as he traded for the likes of Josh Donaldson, David Price and Troy Tulowitzki ahead of and during the 2015 season. The result was the Blue Jays’ return to the postseason for the first time since 1993, as they advanced to the American League Championship Series.
We’re not predicting the Leafs will have a similar return by going for broke, but it’s long past time for them to make some noise in the playoffs. If this means giving up one or more of their high 2022 draft picks in order to improve the roster, they must do whatever it takes.
Are you on board with doing whatever it takes to help the Leafs win now? Or do you think it’s important to still keep hold of high round draft picks? Let us know in the comments section below.