In the latest trade deadline edition of Leafs Links, the insiders discuss the Maple Leafs’ potential interest in Jake McCabe, Vladislav Gavrikov, Jonathan Toews, and Timo Meier with the deadline now a little over five weeks away.
Seravalli: I don’t think the Leafs have any untouchables; the price on Jake McCabe varies based on retention (SN590)
On The JD Bunkis Podcast, insider Frank Seravalli discussed all of the latest hot-button deadline topics, including the Leafs‘ interest level in Jake McCabe and Jonathan Toews as well as their appetite to move Matthew Knies in a trade.
Seravalli on the Leafs‘ interest level in Jake McCabe:
I think they have had their eyes on him for a while. Their concern has been his injury history. The last thing you want to do is take a blue line that has been mostly banged up and add someone with a significant injury risk profile. That has been something that has been a little bit of concern, but he has been healthy all year. The injuries that he has had have been somewhat major.
The cap part of it is such a determining factor. It is not just that he is playing at a $4 million value now, but since Chicago has that willingness to retain half, I just think it makes it such a different discussion point.
Go back to what made Brandon Hagel really attractive last year for any team, including the Lightning who traded two first-round picks for him. It was a couple of years under contract at a bargain rate. If that is what you are dealing with in a retained-salary transaction, it makes it super attractive for a team like the Leafs. It is not just cost certainty. It is at a really good number.
It reduces the risk of injuries.
Seravalli on the asking price for McCabe:
If you get into the retained salary and they are eating half and it knocks it down to $2 million, I think you are in the first-round pick range. If you are dealing straight up on contracts — and the Leafs have the cap space with Muzzin and are likely to continue to have it — they don’t need to do it. But it is not just this year that you are making the deal for. If it is for the next couple of years, that really changes the equation.
If it’s straight up, you are probably in the second-round pick range plus a B-level prospect or something like that.
Seravalli on whether the Leafs have untouchables and if Matthew Knies is one:
I don’t think they have untouchables. I don’t think this is a year in which you can. It is nice to think about them as untouchables if you were to map out a priority list of guys you’d prefer not to trade. But not this year.
When you look back at the way they looked at Matthew Knies last year, I think they overvalued him. That is not to say that he is not a good prospect or that he won’t turn into an NHL player. It is just that he is probably not the franchise centerpiece some are thinking he might be. He is going to take time.
Again, I am not knocking him at all, but if you are really going to improve your team and are trying to win a Stanley Cup this year, why wouldn’t Matt Knies be available? Why enter the conversation by boxing yourself out of doing things? I don’t think it’s a smart way to look at things.
I don’t think, ultimately, that this is how the Leafs will look at things. They are in a spot where they probably need to be aggressive. They have an opportunity here. They are one of the best three teams in the conference and could really make noise.
Seravalli on whether the Leafs would consider moving Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren in a deal:
Probably not. You need players on those contracts, and that is a big reason why they were signed to multi-year deals. If you are going to spend the way they structured their cap, they need those guys making $1.4 million next year to really help their situation even with the cap going up. That is how they are going to be able to potentially afford Michael Bunting.
Seravalli on whether Jonathan Toews is going to move and if he would be open to the idea of Toronto:
I think he is ready to go. 10 days ago — I am paraphrasing — he said he always envisioned himself being a Blackhawk, but now maybe he needs to consider alternative realities.
I think he would be open to a lot of different things. I think he is a pretty open-minded guy. But my question on Jonathan Toews: What are you getting? There are some flashes of the player he was eight years ago, but he is a third-line guy right now.
I think there is a lot of pent-up frustration in his game. I wonder if going to a different team might give him a shot in the arm, but you have to really measure the price you are willing to pay against the player you are going to get — and it can’t be on name value and recognition . It needs to be based on what you are getting right now.
There are still a lot of hoops to jump through with a $10.5 million cap hit. It absolutely requires a third-party broker, for the most part. And what assets are you giving up that then limit what else you can do? That is the opportunity cost that needs to be considered.
TSN Insiders: Leafs looking to extend Conor Timmins; Ryan O’Reilly officially in play; Timo Meier not yet given permission to talk contract with teams (Insider Trading)
On the latest edition of Insider Trading, the insiders discuss a number of Leafs-related matters, including the topics of Ryan O’Reilly, Timo Meier, and Conor Timmins.
Chris Johnston on a potential Conor Timmins extension:
They do have some interest in extending Conor Timmins to a contract. He is a pending RFA acquired from Arizona. He has been a nice fit since he came over to Toronto and has been quite productive in his time. We will see if they can get something done there.
Darren Dreger on the price for Ryan O’Reilly:
The St. Louis Blues, like all clubs looking at the playoff picture, don’t know if they are willing yet to go all in. The ask for Ryan O’Reilly is going to be similar to what it would normally be for a player of this stature. You are talking about a draft pick. You are talking about a prospect. The draft pick could be determined by the quality of the prospect.
It is still early, but Ryan O’Reilly is officially in play.
Pierre LeBrun on the market for Timo Meier:
He is not a UFA on July 1st — he is an RFA — but he also has a $10 million qualifying offer. That has some teams who really like him concerned about how to navigate that. It is why I think some teams are hoping the Sharks give permission to Meier’s camp — led by agent Claude Lemieux — to speak directly to teams to see if this could be the type of trade where an extension is part of it.
That has not happened yet. Lemieux has not gotten that permission. It is also not out of the question that the Sharks try to sign him, but it should be noted that they have not yet put an offer on the table for Meier since the beginning of the season. It doesn’t look too likely there.
Toronto would make sense. Carolina has some interest; they see Meier as a long-term fit. A team like the Sabers has also reached out to San Jose. This could be a type of player that has interest from teams that are not even sitting in a playoff spot.
It is kind of a unique case with Timo Meier.
Johnston on Max Domi’s availability:
Domi, this season, has played center. He has shown some versatility. He has put up pretty good numbers. Maybe the most important number of them all is $3 million. That is Domi’s cap hit this year on an expiring contract. Much cheaper than a lot of the other players that teams might be looking at to plug into a top-six or top-nine forward role.
It has gone so well in Chicago that Domi would be happy to stay there and sign an extension, but with where the Blackhawks are at, they have to gauge the market and will likely move on.
LeBrun on the Lightning’s plans for the deadline:
The Lightning have a way of lowering expectations at the trade deadline and then — in the last three years — going out and getting players. But in speaking with Julien BriseBois for a piece coming out in The Athletic, he doesn’t have a first-round pick this year. He doesn’t have a first-round pick next year. He doesn’t have a second-round pick. He says he doesn’t have the assets to make a big splash, so he is looking more at a Nick Paul-type acquisition.
The one thing I asked him: What if the Leafs and Bruins make a big splash? He said he is not going to let it affect his line of thinking before the deadline.
Friedman believes Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly are going to move (SN590)
On The Jeff Marek Show, Elliotte Friedman discussed his latest feelings for the situation in St. Louis in regard to their deadline seller status.
I remember that we were expecting the great American sell-off in 2019. We didn’t get it, and they won the Cup. I don’t think this team is that, but do I think Tarasenko is going to get traded? Yes, I think he will. Do I think O’Reilly is going to get traded? Yes, I am coming more around to that, absolutely.
I think they have some other pieces: Acciari. Barbashev is a guy who is going to have some heat with him because of how well he has played in a depth role before. On Mikkola, I have heard teams talking about him.
Not only does he have big pieces to move, but he has smaller, fit pieces to move, too. I think there is going to be a lot of action around them.
Does he really think he has a team there capable of winning a Stanley Cup? I think he did before. I don’t think he has that now.
Friedman on the players available in Chicago outside of potentially Toews and Kane:
What I have heard is that there are teams that are interested in their D. I don’t think it’s Jones, but I think some of their other guys like Murphy and McCabe… There is real interest in some of those players.
What if Chicago eats some of Murphy’s deal to improve the return they get? I think some teams are good with that, and I think Chicago is willing to consider ideas.
Friedman on the defense market and the Leafs’ activity in it:
Someone was saying to me that the defense market this offseason for UFAs is not very deep. It makes sense for Columbus to allow teams to negotiate a contract with Gavrikov.
I had some Leafs fans sending me notes saying, “Are you sure we are in on Gavrikov?” I think at some point this year, Toronto has called about every potential defenseman. Ottawa has called about every potential defenseman. Edmonton has called on every potential defenseman, although that slowed down because they are going well.
I think the Leafs have called around on just about every defenseman. I don’t think that they know what they are going to do or who it is going to be, but they have made their calls. I still think they are going to do a forward, too. I think they are going to try to do both.
Gavrikov is a good player. It is a smart player by Columbus to let people talk to them if it improves their return.