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Thursday free agent rumours, and is Jordan the Weal deal?

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This is the best time of the year for rumour mongers and speculators. Let’s play too.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers
Jordan, son of Kali.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Edited to add: Way to spoil our fun, Dreger. The rest of the story’s still possible. For one more day!

Getting news out of the Leafs is like getting a goal against Braden Holtby. It’s fun to do, once in a while (like in the playoffs), but you end up without quite enough to go on with. We never get enough news out of the Leafs, so sometimes we have to resort to just speculating.

We learned today that Adam Brooks, a draft pick from last year, has signed a contract.

Interestingly, Steve Yzerman beat Toronto to the signing punch with one of his draft picks from this year. Tampa signed Alexander Volkov, their second round pick.

If I haven’t missed any news, that is the first 2017 draft signing, and he’s a second rounder. Tampa got the second round pick they used to make this surprise choice on Volkov by trading Brian Boyle to the Leafs at the deadline.

Speaking of Boyle:

So if Tampa isn’t the place Boyle is going, and Lou Lamoriello has said he hasn’t talked to him (can we take that as truth?), where is he going?

Until we find that out, the quest for the Leafs to add a centre higher up the depth chart than Brooks goes on.

One option getting some discussion is Philadelphia UFA Jordan Weal. Weal is a UFA under the same rule that made Jonathan Marchessault a free agent so young. From CapFriendly:

A player who's contract is expiring and meets all of the following conditions shall become an unrestricted free agent (UFA):

The player is 25 years or older (as of June 30th of the calendar year the contract is expiring).

The player has completed 3 or more professional seasons - qualified by 11 or more professional games (for an 18/19 year old player), or 1 or more professional games (for a player aged 20 or older). This can include NHL, minor league, and European professional league seasons played while under an SPC.

The player has played less than 80 NHL games, or 28 NHL games of 30 minutes or greater for a goaltender.

Weal, who is only 25, was a draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings at one time. The Flyers haven’t got room for him, and while he has split his time between the AHL and the NHL, he seems to be a player who might be more than the Leafs have on hand.

Enough more? Enough to play full time in the NHL and earn the salary he will get as a UFA with some buzz behind him? Maybe. He had 12 points in 23 games in the NHL last year, which is seven more than Seth Griffith’s five in 21 games. But is he more than a tweener? A sure thing? Should the Leafs let Vancouver sign him? He’s gone on a tour of their facilities, so maybe he wants to go back out west.

If you’d rather think bigger—jumbo sized, even—why not consider Joe Thornton?

It’s nice to imagine a player of that calibre in Toronto, dishing the puck perfectly to all those young wingers and skating around like he’s out for a summer stroll, while always ending up in exactly the right spot. I’m not sure Toronto is quite yet the destination for a man hungry for a cup before it’s all over, and the rumour is he wants to go wherever Patrick Marleau ends up.

The other news today concerned an appearance by NHL.com’s Frank Seravalli on Leafs Lunch. He completely demolished my theory about the Florida Panthers and why they did what they did at the expansion draft.

It turns out, it was all about money. Never discount that a budget team is still a budget team even if they suddenly spend for a season. Not only did they shed Reilly Smith for a pick, they let Jonathan Marchessault go in the expansion draft, both as salary dumps. Servalli is now saying they want to trade Jason Demers as well.

Demers, a right-shooting defender, has four more years on a contract that has a $4.5 million cap hit. He’s just 29, but four years at serious money might be scaring people off. Will it scare off the Leafs?

Hamonic is off the market, Shattenkirk seems like pie in the sky, so could a deal to take a semi-salary dump on a still good player be worth it?

That says do the deal if the price is even remotely reasonable. His age is a concern however. Hamonic is 26 and that makes him more worth investing in by a lot.

The only question with Demers is, why did his Corsi take a dive when he was traded to Florida? Is this usage, a bad fit, or decline? My quick and really not in depth look at his numbers last year says the main reason was he played almost 300 minutes with Derek MacKenzie and Colton Sceviour.

It’s a risk taking on a player of that age, but when the other alternatives are exhausted, maybe that’s the risk you should take. There is no real reason the think Demers is falling off a cliff any time soon.

He sounds more like a weal deal than Weal, to be honest.

This post is dedicated to:

@TheJsoh, for inspiring me to use that line in a headline. Without our dedicated readers, we really are making bad puns in a vacuum.