Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings Draft Analysis

The Detroit Red Wings turned the draft on its head with the sixth pick. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman provided the first “Hold my Beer” moment of the draft by taking the high rising, high-upside, right-handed defender Mortiz Seider from the DEL. The “Yzerplan” was fully underway.

Embed from Getty Images

The Picks

Moritz Seider, RHD, Alder Mannheim (DEL), Round 1, 6th overall

Embed from Getty Images

The big right-handed blue liner has been rising on draft boards over the last three months. Seider was often ranked as the second or third best defender in the draft come June, usually in the top-15. Taking the German born and trained Seider at sixth overall may have been a bit of reach at the draft time but in a few years we may realize Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s genius. He’s a mobile, 6’4″ right shot defender who excelled in latter half of the year playing against men in the DEL (top German league). Seider possesses the ability to defend with efficiency. He uses his long reach and stick to disrupt plays and isn’t afraid to close out and engage physically. Offensively, he showed promise at the junior level and on the international stage, including during his men’s World Championship with the German national team. Although this may seem like a reach at the time of the draft, even Moritz Seider looked surprised to hear his name so early, but could end up being looked back upon in a much more positive light. Grade C+

Antti Tuomisto, RHD, Ässät U20 (Jr A SM-Liiga), Round 2, 35th overall

Another big, right-handed rearguard for Detroit. Another pick that may have been slightly higher than anticipated but a good player nonetheless. An interesting fact about Antti Tuomisto is that he was set to be promoted to the Liiga but declined the promotion because he wanted to preserve his NCAA eligibility. This led to his stock not being as high as it could have been. He has a big shot from the blue line and makes a good first pass in transition. More of a passer to transport the puck than a puck carrier but he’s a strong skater at 6’5″, 198lbs. Defensively he is solid and creates separation with his large frame. He doesn’t seek out big hits, rather he engages physically with purpose. He does have a bit of an edge to his game, being suspended for crossing the line at the U18s with a knee-on-knee. With the likelihood that he fills his large frame out and his advanced hockey IQ, his defensive positioning is likely to improve over time. Grade B-

Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL), Round 2, 54th overall

Embed from Getty Images

The first forward taken by the Red Wings was a smaller winger (5’10”, 170lbs) who was a goal scorer at the USHL. He is a decent skater but not could work on it. Robert Mastrosimone has a good first step but his top speed isn’t anything to ride home about. He has a good shot and excellent hands. He will need to learn when and when not to use his go-to move, the toe drag, to get around players. He uses the toe drag on shots as well which is an excellent skill to have as it changes the angle on the shot and deceives goalies with the shot. He will need to get stronger but the skill is there. Defensively, he’s inconsistent but shows a good ability to get his stick on passing lanes. He isn’t going to be a physical presence in the defensive zone but his stick work helps make up for it. Grade B+

Albert Johansson, LHD, Färjestad BK (SHL), Round 2, 60th Overall

A 6’0″ defender who skates well, see the ice and makes good crisp passes. Albert Johansson has a good first step, accelerates quickly and has good top-speed. He carries the puck well and has good hands as a blue liner. He has a good hard shot thats accurate from the point. Seems to get the puck through traffic more often than not. He isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and may need to hone in when to shoot it and when to pass it off. He’s very poised in his own end and does a decent job defending but could definitely work on his positioning when the opposition gains the zone and sustains pressure. He has very high hockey sense and the poise allows him to make good passes under pressure. He has a strong overall game but doesn’t “wow” anyone. Grade B

Albin Grewe, RW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL), Round 3, 66th Overall

Embed from Getty Images

Graded by most as a late-first/early-second round pick, Detroit getting Albin Grewe (pronounces Gre-vah) in the third round is a steal. The Swedish winger plays like a bulldog. He is built like a truck at just 6’0″ tall, 195lbs. He is a combination of grit and skill. Grewe has the ability to turn the momentum of a game on its head. He can get a big hit on he defensive end, get the puck through the neutral zone before dangling a defender and putting the puck top shelf. He’s often been compared to Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi stylistically and if he falls anywhere on that spectrum this third round pick will be a steal. Grade A

The Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls (USHL), Round 4, 97th Overall

Good two-way center who is quite undersized. At just 5’9″ and 146lbs, Phillips will be a project. He excels defensively and could be a good penalty kill player at the next level. He was a big factor in the Sioux Falls’ USHL title this past year. He will be attending Boston University in the fall.

Cooper Moore, LHD, Brunswick High School (USHS-Prep), Round 5, 128th Overall

High school players are hard to project because the level of competition is generally low. This is a home run swing late in the draft. In a game where his team was down 6-3 with three minutes left in the third period, he put the team on his back and scored three goals, as a defenceman, to tie the game. He almost scored again in overtime which would have been his SIXTH goal of the game. This was a late round flyer that could pay off big time later. Moore is going to play in the BCHL next year and then at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

Elmer Söderblom, RW/LW, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 159th Overall

The massive winger is an excellent stick handler. Although intimidating at 6’7″ and 220lbs, there seems to be more skill than grit in his game. Plays on the perimeter for the most part but likes to take the puck to the net with his stick handling prowess. Taking a flyer on a forward of this size and skill set is the perfect 6th round pick.

Gustav Berglund, RHD, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 177th Overall

A right-handed defender who progressed through the junior ranks in Sweden through the year. Good size and talent but had a rough start to the year. He was living on his own and had a hard time adjusting initially but once he was sorted out by his team and coaches in Sweden he began to excel.

Kirill Tyutyayev, RW/LW, Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL), Round 7, 190th Overall

Tyutyayev dominated the MHL, the Russian junior league, this year. He was his teams leading scoring in the regular season and playoffs. A long-term project, he possesses good puck skills, a decent offensive game and potential to get better with time. A good 7th round swing for the fences.

Carter Gylander, G, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), Round 7, 191st Overall

A goalie in the seventh round. He’s big, 6’5″, but needs to fill out his frame as he sits at 172lbs. Good numbers in a second tier Canadian junior league. He will return to Sherwood Park next season before he attends Colgate University in 2020-21.

Draft Summary

The Detroit Red Wings draft was a bit controversial. Taking Seider with players such as Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens still available. Seider is a good blue liner who could be a solid 2/3 defenceman who could be a strong defender and underrated offensive contributor. Based on public lists and rankings, it was a bit of a reach with the sixth overall pick.

The value that the Red Wings got in round two and three was good. Tuomisto, much like Seider, is a good player and excellent addition to the defensive pipeline for the Wings but may have been take slightly ahead of where he should have been. Mastrosimone and Johansson were high-upside picks who need to work on areas of their game but if they can harness the obvious skills they have and build on their weaknesses, they could be solid contributors with some time. Grewe may have been the steal of the draft. With many rankings and talent evaluators putting a late first round grade on him, getting the high-motor Swedish pinball could pay huge dividends within a few seasons.

Embed from Getty Images

Overall, Steve Yzerman began the “Yzerplan” with a high-risk, high-reward 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He took the guys that he, along with his scouting team in Detroit, seems the best player available in Seider and then continued to stock pile defenders who play a good two-way game and highly competitive forwards who have never ending motors. Yzerman had a directive of the type of players that he felt the Detroit organization needed and he did an excellent job sticking to his guns and filling them when he say fit.

 

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Florida Panthers: Evaluating Their 2019 Draft

The Florida Panthers went into the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Vancouver with the 13th overall pick and came out with nine new names in their depth chart. 

 

Overall, the best word to describe the Panthers’ performance in Vancouver is: okay. Just okay.  Nothing phenomenal, nothing crippling.  Just… okay.  Personally, I am a big proponent of drafting the best available talent, but General Manager Dale Tallon and co. clearly went into the draft with team needs on their minds.  A team that struggled defensively and in net invested heavily in their own end with this draft; the Panthers only used one of their first five picks on a forward but tried to stock the cabinets in the later rounds.  So how did they do with each pick?

 

Round 1, Pick 13: Spencer Knight, G (US National U18 Team)

 

Spencer Knight was not just the top goalie prospect in this year’s draft, but one of the best goalie prospects the NHL has seen in a long time.  That said, drafting goalies is a very tricky business, as goalies are much harder to evaluate and generally take longer to develop. 

Embed from Getty Images

 

The Panthers clearly wanted a defenseman with their first-round pick, but by the time they stepped up to the podium, Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, and Moritz Seider were all off the board.  Tallon allegedly had some discussions with other GMs about trading down, but they proved fruitless and the Panthers ultimately used their given pick on Knight.  With the big-three defensemen off the board, I understand and am generally okay with the Panthers reaching a little bit for Knight.  Hopefully, he turns into every bit the franchise goalie that the analysts are projecting and the Panthers don’t regret passing on the likes of Cole Caufield and Peyton Krebs.

 

Pick feel: fine, given the circumstances

I would’ve picked: Cole Caufield

 

Round 2, Pick 52: Vladislav Kolyachonok, D (Flint Firebirds, OHL)

 

Drafted by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and traded to the Flint Firebirds, Kolyachonok had 30 points in 54 games as a rookie defenseman in the OHL, in addition to scoring five points in five games as Belarus’ captian at the World U18 Championship.  The Panthers may have lost out on Broberg, Seider, and Soderstrom, but Kolyachonok, described as a responsible, two-way defenseman who excels at moving the puck and moving himself, immediately becomes the best defensive prospect in their system.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Pick feel: great

I would’ve picked: Mikko Kokkonen

 

Round 3, Pick 69: John Ludvig, D (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

 

Undrafted in 2018, John Ludvig’s second Western Hockey League season, while an improvement on his first, still left much to be desired.  The 6’1” defenseman is known more for fighting than scoring, having recorded more penalty minutes than points in each of his seasons with Portland so far.  Many mocks had him going in the seventh round, if at all, and nothing I have seen in any stat sheet or highlight reel justifies this pick to me either.  This was easily the worst pick the Panthers made in Vancouver and possibly one of the worst overall picks of the entire draft.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Pick feel: not nice

I would’ve picked: nearly anyone else, but especially Mikko Kokkonen, who was STILL on the board.

 

Round 3, Pick 81: Cole Schwindt, W (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

 

The Panthers followed up their worst pick in the draft by making one of their better picks in the draft. The 17-year-old 6’2” forward Schwindt might not have lit the OHL up himself, but he is a very effective play driver at five-on-five.  In significant minutes, Schwindt had a massively positive impact on his teammates’ (including fellow Panthers prospect Owen Tippett) possession stats, which is a very good sign moving forward.

 

Pick feel: much better than the last one

I would’ve picked: STILL MIKKO KOKKONEN

 

Round 4, Pick 106: Carter Berger, D (Victoria Grizzlies, BCHL)

 

The last of the defensemen with whom Florida left Vancouver, Berger is a skilled, though over-aged, defenseman.  He notched 27 goals and 36 assists (63 points) in his second draft-eligible season and is set to move up to the NCAA and play for UCONN this coming season.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Pick feel: no strong feelings one way or the other

I would’ve picked: Antti Saarela

 

Round 5, Pick 136: Henrik Rybinski, W (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

If any of the Panthers’ draft picks is eventually described as a diamond in the rough, it will be Hank Rybinski.  Rybinski began this season very slowly with the Medicine Hat Tigers, but exploded onto the scene after a trade to the Seattle Thunderbirds.  The 17-year-old finished his WHL season with 40 points in 47 games, but was a point-per-game player for Seattle.  Rybinski is strong on the puck, but is certainly more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer himself.  If Seattle continues to use him in more significant ice time, his development could be a pleasant surprise.

 

Pick feel: unreasonably excited for a fifth-rounder

I would’ve picked: Henrik Rybinski too.  Good job, team.

 

Round 5, Pick 137: Owen Lindmark, C (US National U18 Team)

 

The second American-born player that the Panthers drafted over the weekend will follow up a 14-point USHL and 25-point USDP campaign by playing at the University of Wisconsin this coming season. A reasonably sound winger, Lindmark did not particularly wow anybody in any facet of the game, but he didn’t cause much disruption either.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Pick feel: good enough, he just seems happy to be involved

I would’ve picked: Mason Primeau if you really twisted my arm about it.

 

Round 6, Pick 168: Greg Meireles, C (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)/Round 7, Pick 199: Matthew Wedman, C (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

I am going to lump Meireles and Wedman in with each other because the things I have to say about both are strikingly similar.  Both Meireles and Wedman are 20 years old and just completed their third season of draft eligibility.  Both outperformed their previous career highs by significant margins.  Meireles finished 10th in points in the OHL and Wedman 20th in the WHL, but that should be expected, given their age, development, and experience.  I certainly don’t hate taking a flyer on a pair of potential late-bloomers in the sixth/seventh round.

 

Pick feel: *shrug emoji*

I would’ve picked: Michael Gildon both times

Statistics provided by hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

2019 NHL Draft: Winners and Losers from Round 1

There are always teams that are perceived winners and losers on day one of the draft. No one will know who is truly and winner or loser for five years but we take a shot at picking out who made good choices and bad choices during day one.

Embed from Getty Images

Winners

Colorado Avalanche (Winner of the Day)

The big winners of the day were the Colorado Avalanche. The team who absolutely robbed the Ottawa Senators in the Matt Duchene trade in November of 2017. In that trade they received a first round pick in either 2018 or 2019. When the Senators selected Brady Tkachuk last year, their 2019 first round pick went to the Avalanche. Despite finishing last in the league, the Senators lucked out and didn’t give up a top-three pick but ended up sending the fourth overall pick to Colorado.

With that pick, the Avalanche selected the clear-cut top defender in the draft, Bowen Byram. Clearly going for best player available, they continue to stack their blue line prospect pipeline. Adding the dynamic, potential number-one defender to the group that already includes Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Conor Timmins. The Avalanche blue line has the potential to be akin to the peak years of the Nashville Predators group.

Embed from Getty Images

The moment that they truly jumped into winner category was when they selected high-skill center Alex Newhook. The speedy pivot was an absolute beast in the BCHL. Ranked as a top-ten prospect by many outlets and talent evaluators, Newhook’s fall to 16 in the draft was a minor shock. Colorado took advantage and solidified both their defensive core and added a future star in Newhook who slots in perfectly behind Nathan MacKinnon.

Montréal Canadiens

If it weren’t for the Avalanche arguably nabbing two top-seven prospects, the Montréal Canadiens would be the big winners. Cole Caufield‘s diminutive stature led to his fall from the top-10 down to Montréal at 15. This is a kid who can score goals. He may be just 5’7″ but he scored 72 goals last year in just 64 games, he possesses the best shot in the draft. After a year or two at the University of Wisconsin, Caufield is likely to light then league on fire with legitimate 40+ goal potential. The Canadiens stole the best goal scorer in the draft with the 15th pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

The team that couldn’t seem to make a good move in the week leading up to the draft, they made the only move at the draft. Trading back with the Arizona Coyotes, the Flyers gave up the 11th pick to move down to 14 and also acquire the 45th overall pick as well. This allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to select the defender that that wanted, USNTDP left-handed defenceman Cam York, as well as recouping an asset. The Coyotes selected the ultra-safe Victor Söderström with the 11th pick. The difference between York and Söderström isn’t so vast that trading up was necessary but the Flyers are the benefactors of the Coyotes eagerness to move up.

Embed from Getty Images

Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights we’re gifted a potential number one center at 17 with the selection of Peyton Krebs. The Winnipeg ICE center is a competitor and a high skilled guy. He led a talent-poor ICE team last season and was ranked all over the top-10. Falling out of that grouping because he partially tore his Achilles’ tendon, the young center wasn’t expected to play in the NHL next season so allowing their medical staff to help through the recovery will help the 17th overall pick.

Losers

Chicago Blackhawks (Loser of the Day)

The draft started at pick number three. The Chicago Blackhawks has the choice between a future number one defender in Bowen Byram and a potential stud In the mold of Patrice Bergeron by selecting Alex Turcotte. Their selection of Kirby Dach was a head scratcher. Although he has a high ceiling, Dach has a few warts in his game. The primary wart is the fact that he plays the game at a very slow pace. He’s methodical with his pace of the game and tends to slow things down. The way Dach does this may not translate to the NHL game of speed.

Embed from Getty Images

Dach has the tools to be a top-line player, whether it’s at center or possibly on the wing, and he possesses good size. His dynamic offensive upside may be equal or slighter greater than Turcotte but the floor is vastly lower. Turcotte could have been a number one pick in a different draft and passing on that could be a cause for concern for the Blackhawks.

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson has a bomb from the point. You don’t take a defender this high because his shot is elite. The rest of his game, particularly in the defensive zone, needs a ton of work. His offensive skill set is good and he is able to make a good first pass but at the 19th pick they had numerous blue liners with much more well rounded and transferable games. Another factor that goes into the Ottawa Senators being a loser here is the fact that they gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) in the Duchene trade. It was almost a certainty that they’d land here in the loser column.

Detroit Red Wings

As the president of the Moritz Seider Fan club, this hurts. Seider is an excellent defender who showed offensive skill prior to his draft year. This year he played with Mannhiem in the DEL (top German men’s league) and was asked to focus on his defensive game. He did that and excelled. He grew throughout the year, going from playing 6-9 minutes a night at the beginning of the year to playing top-pair minutes in the playoffs where Mannheim won the league title. Seider could be an outstanding defenceman in the future and the selection of him is a win for the Detroit Red Wings but taking him at 6 was a bit of a reach. Rumour has it that they almost traded down but were tipped off that other teams in the top-10 were considering Seider as well so Steve Yzerman just went and got the player he wanted.

Embed from Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning

Calling the Tampa Bay Lightning losers is basically setting myself up for failure, I’m not the Columbus Blue Jackets after all. Their selection of Nolan Foote caused a bit of an uproar amongst Lightning fans. They wanted a goal scorer and they chose a guy who wasn’t even among the top-three available. With Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink and Raphael Lavoie both still sitting on the board, Foote was a player that felt like a reach. He has a few flaws outside of his goal scoring but so does Kaliyev. Kaliyev was just a better goal scorer. It’s a shock that the Lightning took an extremely flawed goal scorer with Kaliyev available and not make the choice to select the young Hamilton Bulldog winger. Foote has the capability of being a good goal scorer but it could end up much like the OHL scoring race where he is behind Kaliyev for years to come.

Day Two, Lets Go!

While there are many winners and losers when we instantly react on day one, day two should have a boat load of talent available.

The fact that day two of the draft will feature some round one talent isn’t new. It happens every year. This year feels like there is more than normal. The forward group above is outstanding and any of them could have gone in the first round without batting an eye. The teams at the top of the second round will get some excellent talent and be the beneficiaries of some of the questionable choices of the teams in the later half of the first round. You can go back and look at the reactions of some of the team at Puck77 here on our day one live blog. Day two is upon us and we are bound to have some fun! Follow along on the day two live blog and enjoy the draft!

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Toronto Maple Leafs

2019 Draft Looms Large for the Toronto Maple Leafs

The 2019 NHL Entry Draft might be a defining moment in the Maple Leafs journey towards playoff success.

Embed from Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs own exactly zero (0) first-round draft picks in this year’s draft. That’s probably why, if you’re a Leafs fan, you haven’t heard much about this year’s crop of prospects. Honestly, other than the top-prospects, I don’t know anything about this year’s draft-eligible players—aside from a few names that have been the subject of twitter arguments in the days leading up to the draft.

However, the Leafs need to make their seven picks—one second, one third, two fourths, one fifth, and two seventh-rounders— count for their competitive window to stay open as long as possible. The Leafs are already entering salary cap-hell, and as they continue to swap out depth players like Connor Brown and Nikita Zaitsev for low-cost rookies like Trevor Moore and Calle Rosén, one of Kyle Dubas’ main priorities lies with keeping the pipeline flowing.

Currently, with the Leafs’ lack of drafting success under ex-Assistant GM Mark Hunter, and the mass promotion of prospects that came with the rebuild, the teams cupboards are bare. They have minimal talent up front with just Pierre Engvall, Jeremy Bracco, Mason Marchment, and (maybe) Adam Brooks as potential solutions that are close to NHL ready. Their future on the blue-line looks brighter mostly because of their past-two first round picks, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin. After them, all they have is last year’s fourth-rounder, Mac Hollowell, and their only other promising back-end prospect, Sean Durzi, was shipped out in the Jake Muzzin trade. However, only Sandin is regarded as NHL-ready or close to it, and the Leafs may only begin next season with two of their top-six defenders from last year as Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are unrestricted free-agents, Nikita Zaitsev will very likely be traded, and Travis Dermott will be out for at least the first month as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery.

The Leafs’ goaltending pipeline is strong, as both Joseph Woll and Ian Scott are highly regarded and had successful seasons this year. The latter is coming off a season in which he won the WHL’s Del Wilson Trophy, the WHL Playoff MVP award, and the CHL Goaltender of the Year award. Somehow, even after a season after that, he is still seen as an inferior prospect to Scott. An that’s not an indictment on Scott; it’s a testament to just how good Woll—and the Leafs’ future goaltending picture—is.

The Main Focus

While fans will expect a good draft haul at the draft, all eyes will be on Kyle Dubas as there are plenty of trades he could make. With that said, let’s explore all possible trade candidates that could be sent out in a deal.

Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner‘s agent, as you likely know, has been making waves in the media, claiming that they will accept an offer-sheet if the Leafs don’t cave in to their demands of more than $11 million AAV. The possibility of a trade will be very real until this situation ends one way or another, but it won’t be at the draft—especially since free agency hasn’t even started yet. They are making calls, though. Now, onto the real candidates for a trade at the draft:

Nikita Zaitsev

To the bewilderment of most hockey analysts, Zaitsev is highly regarded by some teams, with the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks reportedly the front-runners in a potential deal. Zaitsev is the Leafs’ only right-handed defenseman that played in the playoffs, and the stars aligned for the Leafs when he requested a trade for personal reasons that reportedly do not have to do with Mike Babcock or his system. He is very good at stopping the cycle in the defensive zone and recovering the puck, but his issue lies in transition, where he can’t make a pass to his forwards if his life depended on it, and on offence, where he has floundered since being taken off the power play after his rookie season, as he often takes bad point-shots into the shin-pads of opponents, turning the puck over. He did play well in the playoffs with Jake Muzzin against the Bruins’ top line, but it should be noted that Muzzin’s possession numbers fell when paired with Zaitsev.

Embed from Getty Images

After getting 36 points in his rookie season, then-GM Lou Lamoriello signed him to a seven-year deal with a $4.5 million AAV. However, Zaitsev has only had 27 points in the last two seasons, and his contract is in the way of the Leafs signing their restricted free agents like Marner, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen.

Dubas’ asking price is reportedly a bottom-pairing defender, a mid-round pick, and a prospect, which would be a complete steal of a trade for Kyle Dubas. Hell, before I knew how much interest there actually is in Zaitsev, I would’ve thought getting his contract off the books with no salary retention in exchange for a seventh-rounder is great value. By now, it’s a forgone conclusion that Zaitsev will be dealt; it’s just a matter of for what and when.

Dubas may want to wait until after July 1 to trade Zaitsev, when his $3 million signing bonus will be paid. Zaitsev also has a 10-team No Trade List that kicks in on this date, but he will not use it as he requested a trade.

I’d be comfortable with a trade to either Edmonton or Vancouver with how they’ve managed their teams the past few years. But, with the news that Peter Chiarelli may join the Canucks front office, bring it on, Vancouver!

Connor Brown

The Leafs’ are likely to move Brown for cap relief, as he is an expensive fourth-lined with a $2.1 million cap-hit. Dubas has plenty of options in a potential Brown trade. Brown hasn’t been able to match his 20-goal rookie season in the two since, with 14 and 8 goals the past two years. He has played all 82 games in each season. Perhaps with a larger opportunity, his production will increase back to his rookie levels (and maybe even higher). According to Bob McKenzie, Connor Brown will not be a Leaf next year because of the cap crunch.

The Edmonton Oilers are said to be interested in Brown. This would be an interesting fit as Brown and Connor McDavid were line-mates in the OHL with the Erie Otters. Maybe Brown is the solution to the endless cycle of line-mates for McDavid. He could be included as a sweetener in a Zaitsev deal or a (less likely) Patrick Marleau deal. He also could be paired with Kasperi Kapanen, and the Carolina Hurricanes are said to be interested in this possibility.

Embed from Getty Images

A potential deal with the Oilers could include Matt Benning, who the Leafs have previously been linked to, and he has a cap his of $1.9 million. Jesse Puljujärvi could also be involved in a trade, as he has demanded a trade and threatened playing in Europe is he is not moved. However, he is a RFA and the Leafs would need to ink him to a new deal. Something like Zaitsev + Brown for Benning + Puljujarvi could work for both sides, affording the Leafs some valuable cap space.

According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Oilers would trade Puljujärvi for a third-line forward. Depending on how they view Connor Brown, he could fit this qualification.

Elliotte Friedman says that the Leafs may also be willing to trade Brown straight up for a second round pick. This would be a great trade for Dubas to make as he continues to replenish the Leafs’ depth through the draft. Could a draft-day trade be in the works, or could he trade for a future pick? Only time will tell.

Patrick Marleau

Patrick Marleau has clearly regressed, and as the saying goes, Father Time is undefeated. The Leafs’ winger will be 40 years old at the beginning of next season, and his cap-hit of $6.25 million keeps getting worse for the Leafs. Marleau has requested a trade back west near San Jose, but his contract puts the Leafs in a tricky situation, as any trade involving Marleau will probably require the Leafs to include a ‘sweetener’ to account for Marleau’s cap-hit.

Potential destinations for Marleau include Colorado, Arizona, and Los Angeles. Marleau reportedly only wants to return to San Jose, but in the wake of Erik Karlsson‘s albatross contract and their slew of free-agents that need re-signing, a reunion seems unlikely unless the Leafs can find a third team to buy Marleau out, similar to the Brooks Orpik deal between Colorado and Washington last year.

Embed from Getty Images

Marleau put his house on the market earlier this month and his family has moved back to San Jose as they reportedly found the transition to Toronto difficult. Yeah, I think he’s gonna waive his no movement clause.

Dubas recently said that there is “a good chance” that Marleau will remain a Maple Leaf next season, but Pierre LeBrun believes that this is solely a media ploy to find more teams willing to take on his salary.

Because Marleau’s deal was signed after the age of 25, a buyout does not get rid of hit $6.25 million cap-hit, which complicates the deal for some teams. Additionally, according to James Mirtle of The Athletic, the final year of his deal is oddly constructed with his $3 million signing bonus split between July and December, and only $1.25 million left to pay in base salary (PAYWALL).

Depending on how much the Leafs are willing to give up, the scope of a deal can vary widely. The Avalanche have reportedly made Tyson Barrie available for trade, and the Leafs could use a good right-handed defender like him. How much would the Leafs need to give up to get a return like this, though? The Leafs are reportedly considering using Brown and/or Kapanen as sweeteners is a potential deal, so they may be able to work something out. According to Mirtle, “Colorado [is not] interested at this time” (PAYWALL), but if their cap situation is alleviated, maybe they would take a second look at Marleau.

Los Angeles is said to be interested in completing a deal, but they would want something in return for taking on his contract. They reportedly want to send a big salary the other way though, which makes it difficult for a trade to materialize. Perhaps the Leafs could pry Tyler Toffoli and his $4.6 million cap-hit out of Los Angeles with a sweetener in the form of Kapanen, Johnsson, or a pick.

The structure of Marleau’s deal makes it more likely for a team near the cap-floor like Arizona to trade for him and complete the buy out. With the Coyotes recent sale to Alex Merulo, their demands have lessened from Kapanen or Johnsson to just “something good to get Arizona to blink.” They reportedly want a prospect in a potential trade, which makes me wonder if the Leafs can sell high on Jeremy Bracco. In his sophomore season with the Marlies, the skilled right-winger has a career-year with 79 points (22-57). He ran the power play from the half-wall in the Mitch Marner role, and although he could impact the Leafs second power-play next year, his 5v5 play left much to be desired. Jeff Veillette’s data has Bracco at a -5.7% Corsi Rel in the regular season, and he was last out of all the Marlies’ regular forwards in the playoffs. With public perception around him still high with his inflated point totals, the Leafs could sell high on Bracco and ship him out to Arizona with Marleau. One wrinkle in these plans is that John Chayka is a staunch supporter of analytics and may not value Bracco highly as a result of his shaky 5v5 play.

Kasperi Kapanen

The Leafs are taking calls on Kapanen, and there is a possibility that he can either be used as a sweetener in a Zaitsev or Marleau deal, or as a centrepiece in a deal for a defender. He is a RFA, so the Leafs would be trading his rights in any deal.

According to Darren Dreger, the Leafs would only deal Kapanen if they receive back-end help in return. Pierre LeBrun says that Carolina has interest in Kapanen and Brown, and that the two teams recently discussed a deal that would send a package based around Brett Pesce to Toronto for Kapanen and Brown. Talks quickly ceased as Carolina wants to keep Pesce.

Earlier in the offseason, LeBrun said that the Hurricanes could have interest in doing a Kapanen + Zaitsev for Pesce/Dougie Hamilton/Justin Faulk, so the interest in Kapanen is apparent. Any of those defenders would greatly help the Leafs next year and undoubtedly step into the top-line with Morgan Rielly since all of them are right-handed.

Embed from Getty Images

Another rumour has the Leafs trading Kapanen for Zaitsev for Kris Letang. Kevin McGran said that Pittsburgh “was one possibility that “makes sense” according to a source.” The Penguins have told teams that any trade would any trade would need to include a package of at least “an impact player on a controllable contract and/or a projected future salary-cap hit that was reasonable” (PAYWALL), according to The Athletic’s Rob Rossi. He also said that two unspecified teams, both from the Eastern Conference, have recently contacted Penguins GM Jim Rutherford about Letang, and that Letang would accept a trade to either team. One of these clubs could very well be the Leafs.

No matter what, expect the Leafs to receive a right-handed defender if they choose to trade Kapanen.

Nazem Kadri

Nazem Kadri most likely will not be traded. They’re taking calls on him, and would need a centre back in any trade, according to Dreger.

Kyle Dubas said that it is his “full intention” that Kadri will be back with the Leafs next year.

Most of the chatter was sparked by Kadri getting suspended in the playoffs for a retaliatory hit for the second year in a row in Game 2 of the Leafs’ first round series against the Boston Bruins.

Garret Sparks

Garret Sparks is being shopped after a horrendous year as the Leafs’ backup. He was sent home the day before the Leafs’ first playoff game to focus on the basics as the Leafs’ recalled AHL goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Yeah, it was that bad.

Embed from Getty Images

Our Matthew Ricks wrote about Sparks being shopped here. I don’t expect for Sparks to get anything more than a late pick, but given his age and the fact that he is only two years removed from his career-year in the AHL, he could hold more value. If the Leafs were able to get a seventh-rounder for Jhonas Enroth in 2017, I’m confident Sparks could net them at least that, or maybe even a fifth or sixth-round pick.

Other Trade Chatter

I’m not sure who the Leafs would trade for him, but TJ Brodie seems like a prime trade candidate and the Leafs have shown interest. Not so sure what the Leafs are going for here given that he is a left-hand shot, but hey, anything’s better than Ron Hainsey, right?

Each of the names above, with the exception of Kasperi Kapanen, are on the TSN Trade Bait board, with Zaitsev coming in at #1. All eyes are on them and Kyle Dubas will most likely be busy on the phones these next few days at the NHL Draft in Vancouver.

Contract details taken from capfriendly.com

Statistics taken from eliteprospects.com, hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

NHL Entry Draft: Top Russian Draft Eligible Prospects

Draft day is upon us and with that comes the final look on the European Leagues top prospects. This time it will be a look into the best of the prospects from Russia, with love.

The wait is over. Its draft day in Vancouver and its time for the prospects of the world to find out what the reward for all the long grueling hours of training will become. This includes a massive draft class from Russia. Just like the Swedes it was a very difficult task to narrow the pool down to four prospects. The fact that goalie prospect Ilya Konovalov had a .930 save procentage in 43 games in the KHL and didn’t make the list should be all the prove needed to showcase that.

Vasili Podkolzin – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Winger

Probably the most controversial prospects of  the first round, Podkolzin seems to have people mixed the most. Some are calling him a bust even before he has even been picked, while some see him as the best outside Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. At the start of May he looked destined to go third overall, but lately he has dropped in the ranking and now looks to go as low as 15th in the draft.

He played in SKA St Petersburgs different teams, with most of his time spend in the MHL and VHL. Here he had an okay year with 13 points in 26 games. For someone who is yet to turn 18, that’s far from bad. He even managed to get a taste of the KHL, although with limited minutes. While Podkolzin hasn’t fully light up the lamp at the club level, he has impressed mightily on the international scene. He was the captain of the under 18 team, where he almost led them to a gold medal, but Russia fell at the last hurdle and had to settle for silver. He also got a bronze medal at his first crack at the juniors. At 17 years of age even being a part of the Russian Junior team, speaks of his talents.

Podkolzins strengths are many and with blinding speed and hands, he can make some amazing plays at high speed he is lethal. Combine that with a great shot and vision and you got a near perfect goal scorer. On top of that he is a very nice size, and a lot of similarities can be made to Alexander Ovechkin in the way he plays the game. His compete level is fantastic and like he showed with the under 18 national team, he is a fine leader. The reason he has dropped seems to be the Russian factor, where he is bound to a contract with SKA St Petersburg for the next 2 seasons. Some teams will struggle to wait that long to see him in action. However, as we seen with Artemi Panarin, the team that can wait, might get a fantastic star at the end of it all.

Pavel Dorofeyev – Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Winger

A beast in the Russian junior leagues, where Pavel Dorofeyev showed that he was far too good. He played 19 games and had 31 points. That’s numbers that more than warranted the call up to the KHL that he got, although it was with more limited ice time at Matallurg. Here he has had 2 points, which isn’t great, but he has played 23 games. That’s not easy to do in Europe’s strongest league at the age of 18. A league that has players who could more than hang in the NHL, and while he wasn’t scoring for fun, he stayed on the team and even getting to play 4 playoff games.

A strong offensive player, who is very similar to Podkolzin in a lot of ways, only a year older. A nice shot, fine speed and a super vision, makes him an exciting player to watch. He possesses good work rates on the defensive areas and is having more than enough talents to produce at a great level in the NHL. But like Podkolzin the thing that hurts his draft stock is his contract situation. Once again, it’s very likely that he won’t come to North America directly, and it will always be a risk that he signs a contract in Russia, that locks him for a little while in the KHL. Some teams wont risk that with their first rounder and therefor he could drop, and if so he could be a great steal to keep an eye on.

Yegor Spiridonov – Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk – Center

The center of Pavel Dorofeyev in the MHL, but unlike his line mate, he stayed the entire year in the MHL, despite dominating it. 41 points in 43 games tells the story of a great season for Spiridonov, who also was a key part of the Russian team that made it all the way to the finals, in the under 18 world championship. Here he had six points in the seven games.

The strengths of Spiridonov is his two way ability. Similar to a player like Mikko Koivu, his defensive awareness and discipline when it comes to the defensive duties is second to no. If a shot needs to be blocked he will do it, and with great physicality his a able to win a lot of the battles at the boards. He is a coach’s best friend in a lot of ways. However, as good as the defensive abilities of Spiridonov is, the offense is lacking behind. Although he keeps the puck well as he enters the zone, his skating his not great. Its something that needs a lot of work from the team that picks him. But with his work rates and pride as he plays, im confident that he is more than capable of being a fine NHL player, that might even be able in the mid rounds.

Pyotr Kochetkov – SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – Goalie

An absolute brick wall at the world juniors where he was deservingly so named the best goalie of the tournmant, has risen his stock a lot. Follow that up with some fine domestic performances and the 19-year-old, might finally get drafted. While most of the season was in VHL he was putting up fantastic numbers for St Petersburgs VHL team. 18 games and a .930 and .955 in the playoff is worth taking note of.

Twice he has been passed but I can’t see the same happen in Vancouver as he is a well sized goalie at 6’3 who is able to cover the net well and with his great agility and quickness he is absolutely one of the better goalies in the draft. Where he needs to work on his game is his aggressiveness that can see him overcommit and leave too much net open on a rebound. However, that is something that corrected with the right training and I could see him become a starter in the future.