When we here at PPP talk about trading members of the Leafs, it is rarely done with any sort of pleasure. Even last year, in the great fire sale of 2016, Leafs fans had to experience the heartbreak of the realization that they were going to lose Nick Spaling and Roman Polak forever. Knowing that once you lose them, they never come back—hey, Daniel Winnik is a free agent this summer, isn’t he?—sorry, I mean, once you realize they aren’t coming back, facing their loss is hard.
So since the Leafs aren’t likely to trade anyone, not even Roman Polák, who is a totally different guy from the defenceman they traded last year to the Sharks, I thought I’d offer myself as the objective voice for the rest of the Atlantic division as they try to make deals.
Boston has already done so much to put themselves in a position to succeed: getting David Backes for huge money, firing Claude Julien with no backup plan beyond just letting the assistant coach have the job. It seems like passing on making any deadline deals might be the right move for you, Boston.
One older rumour that just won’t die is the Gabriel Landeskog for Brandon Carlo swap that Boston reportedly turned down.
It’s not often you see smart management make the right call. This was a terrible idea at the time, and it’s worse now. Landeskog is really, really wrong for the Bruins. Anyone can see that. He’s the sort of earnest European who tries to apologize for bumping into someone. That’s not the Bruins way!
There’s no way that old washed up relic of the Avalanche would fit on such a young, dynamic team anyway. And Carlo is the future! You don’t trade a four goal scorer with more penalty minutes than any other D but Adam McQuaid for some Euro winger! You keep him until he is Adam McQuaid.
Objective Recommendation: Stand pat, Bruins, don’t give away valuable assets for some random from the Western Conference.
TSNs trade bait list has several Sabres on it, but I want to focus on two of them: Brian Gionta and Dmitry Kulikov. They both make $4 million and change right now, and they are both UFA this summer. And I think the Sabres really need to think twice about losing these valuable assets.
First, Gionta is the captain. You only trade your captain when you’re a team about to implode like the Avalanche. The Sabres are building up, not tearing down.
Think of your future, Sabres! Gionta has a lot of points this year, and sure, at 38, you can’t assume that huge point total will continue. It is true that he has one of the worst Corsi percentages for forwards on the team, ahead of only the fourth line, but come on, he’s your captain. He has heart and grit and those goalies won’t run themselves you know!
Next, Kulikov. He’s new to the team, but he’s settled in nicely. He doesn’t have a Corsi percentage quite in the same league as Rasmus Ristolainen, but he has put in one of the best efforts on the Sabres aimed at sinking, er, getting there. He’s young too. Why turn him away now when defence is what you need most?
Objective Recommendation: keep both of these core pieces and get them re-signed post haste! Gionta likely should get term.
Thomas Vanek is the name on everyone’s lips in Detroit. It’s understandable. How often does a team find a guy who is only 33 and on just his fifth team in three years? And then he turns into their second best points man! Possibly only a team whose best points man is 36 and whose number three is a good young player the team kept finding reasons not to play, but that’s just speculation on my part.
Vanek has found his rightful home, and risking him on a rental deal just for a draft pick would be very foolish. They don’t ever come back, Detroit! Learn from the Toronto lesson, once you trade an aging third liner you’ve been playing as a top six guy, you don’t ever see them again. You can’t try to send him off as a rental and then sign him again as a UFA. Who would do that?
Objective Recommendation: Admit he’s your kind of guy and get him locked up to term, the faster the better.
Forida is in a tough spot. At least Detroit can be certain they’re terrible, but the Panthers just aren’t sure. They should be good. They should be in a playoff spot, and they might make it if they suddenly play a lot better than they have all year. Any minute now, they could suddenly be the team the numbers say they are.
Because of that uncertainty, not even TSN is listing the most obvious trade candidate: perennial pending UFA and man about many towns, Jaromir Jagr.
I think that’s a mistake. Just because he’s a stalwart member of the top scoring line on the team, and just because he is third in points does not mean that keeping him around is a good idea.
I have two words for you, Florida: asset management. It’s important, crucial even, for a process-focused team such as yourselves to not give in to sentiment. He will never be worth this much ever again. Trade the old man. Do it now. Think of your future. Just not, you know, your immediate future.
Objective Recommendation: points don’t matter, only asset value, so trade the guy quick.
So, Montréal, you went the old change the coach route did you? Hmmm. I’m not sure that was wise, but I guess you can’t back out now. But what now? The coach can’t play the tough minutes and hold off the charging Ottawa Senators. You need to upgrade that roster!
I hear Marc Bergevin is looking for a puck-moving defender. I also hear he thinks there are no elite centres out there to be had!
The reality is in the NHL today that defenders are expensive. If you want someone of quality, a puck-moving, play-making, goal-scoring defender who is the backbone of your team, you need to give up a big asset to get it. Look what Columbus gave for Seth Jones. Look at what Nashville, er, nevermind, bad example, um, look as what Colorado offered Boston for Carlo.
The reality is, Montréal, to upgrade on defence, you need to move out someone big. No, not David Deharnais or Tomas Plekanec. The time has come to trade Alex Galchenyuk, Habs.
I say this as a friend. You know he doesn’t fit. You know he’s not right for you. You know he’s not really the right kind of man. He’s not an elite centre either, and with nothing else close on the market, he’ll fetch a tonne at the deadline.
Montréal, you know how bad it gets when you let the wrong sort fester in the dressing room, laughing, joking, buying hospital wings. You have to move this guy. This plan your new coach is hatching to play him on the top line, that’s a good way to pump up his value. Grit your teeth and keep it up for a few days.
Now, Boston has proven that they won’t fall for the soft Euro winger gambit, so you can’t get Carlo, but you should be able to get someone—Vancouver has a really good defender in the AHL, maybe a deal there is possible. But you have to do it. No one has ever waited out the growing pains of a young player and reaped the rewards. No one.
Objective Recommendation: trade that soft Euro winger because he’ll never be a centre. Not in Montréal, anyway.
Ottawa, you are in a playoff position, and conventional wisdom says you should be buyers at the deadline. Do not fall for this! Think for yourselves, Sens. Be true to yourselves. Your team culture of extreme parsimony combined with occasional gross over payments has gotten you this far! Do not turn back now.
You have two players making $7 million or more, what more could you possibly need? No, this idea that you must add to an already successful formula is flawed at its very foundation. You, Ottawa, have a chance to out-smart the pundits and to sit back and smugly stay way, way, way under the cap where you should be.
It’s who you are, don’t give in to the people who preach conformity.
Objective Recommendation: extend some RFAs to the cheapest contracts they’ll take and send the message that you can win with two players taking up 21% of your cap hit, and you mean to keep going on that way.
Oh, Tampa, what are you doing this season? You can’t streak your way to the playoffs at the last minute, stop fooling yourselves. The time is now for that fire sale. Go big! Don’t stop at Brian Boyle, move out all the dead wood!
Anyone over 25 must go! Renew, renew! It’s the only way. History has proven this. There is only one way to rejuvenate a team, and that’s with a total teardown.
First, get tanking. Usually the first step there is to play your worst goalie all the time, and I realize that’s a hard call for you, so why not trade both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy? Buffalo did, and it worked for them. Next, look at your defence! Get rid of those old men and play the kids!
That’s the other mantra: play the kids. Play them even if they’re terrible. You can always pressbox them later for a couple of years if you have to. Jon Cooper knows how to do that, don’t worry.
Once you’ve divested of goalies and anyone who remembers the nineties, you can start acquiring players. Only young players! No old guys. Never. And when you get to that point, Tampa, please drop by Lou Lamoriello’s discount winger and puck-moving defender emporium, all positions catered to, all needs met. (Temporarily out of centres, check back in a few years. Imaginary future awesomeness not guaranteed.)
Objective Recommendation: burn it to the ground! And in the meantime, about Brian Boyle....