Yesterday was a pretty boring day for the Leafs, but they have to be quite happy with how things turned out around the league. Kyle Dubas already made his big splash by acquiring Jake Muzzin a month ago, and while the Leafs were not expected to do much, it was tough to predict what would happen with their division rivals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have an outstanding hockey team. They did not get any better yesterday, and it would not have shocked me if they went all-in on Artemi Panarin or Chris Krieder. Meanwhile, the Bruins were expected to acquire secondary scoring, and although Marcus Johansson is a fine player, he’s not exactly a superstar. Essentially, Boston did close to the bare-minimum of what I expected them to do, and Tampa did nothing. I’m thrilled that Mark Stone is out of the division for the foreseeable future.
Early Thoughts on the Petan-for-Lindholm Trade
I did not want to see Par Lindholm and Frederik Gauthier in the same line come playoff time. I would much rather see Trevor Moore or Tyler Ennis on the fourth line over Lindholm, and we will now see an improved fourth-line down the stretch. I don’t know how often Nic Petan will play, but I’m thankful that the Lindholm-Gauthier duo is over with.
Petan is quite talented as a playmaker. He posted huge numbers back in junior, and was a nice sidekick to Connor McDavid at the World Juniors. He was one of the best scorers in the AHL last year, and he’s only 23. It feels like Petan has been around the NHL forever, as he made his debut during the 2015-2016 season, but he’s only nine days older than Trevor Moore.
My guess is that Petan is not in the playoff lineup. I expect Babcock to play Gauthier as the fourth line centre, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Petan contributed next season. The Leafs are going to need cheap depth players, and he could easily be next year’s version of Tyler Ennis. His ability to play both centre and the wing helps to make him a valuable 13th forward.
In terms of Toronto’s lineup, this trade could end up being Lindholm for Moore. I will take this swap any day of the week, and I expect that Leafs fans will fall in love with Moore before long. He is relentless in chasing down loose pucks, adds secondary scoring by heading to the dirty areas, and can play in all-situations. We saw Andreas Johnsson impress with the Leafs in last year’s playoffs, and I’m completely convinced that Moore is good enough to contribute at the NHL level.
The Future of Connor Brown
It’s great to hear that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in acquiring Connor Brown:
As reported by @NHLbyMatty sounds like Oilers took a run at getting Connor Brown from Leafs but couldn’t make a deal work. My guess, Benning would have been the player they were pitching in return.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 25, 2019
The Leafs fourth line played outstanding last night, and the combined salary of this Ennis-Gauthier-Moore line is $2.25 million. Connor Brown makes $2.1 million alone, and he simply will not be in the fourth line budget next year. Still, the Leafs should have no problem getting out of his contract this offseason, so there’s no reason to rush this trade. Unless there was a great offer on the table, you may as well take a deep roster into the playoffs.
Brown is a little bit lost on this team. Gauthier is not strong in terms of skating, puck carrying or playmaking. Brown carries similar weaknesses, and this duo tends to struggle in the transition game when they are paired together. It doesn’t really make much sense to move up Brown in the lineup either, as Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Kasperi Kapanen also play on the right-side. You could make him a dependent-type of player in the top nine, but Hyman is already the king of this, Johnsson is better than him, and it’s tough to see Marleau heading to the fourth line anytime soon.
When Nazem Kadri returns to the lineup, we are probably going to see a pretty damn good winger in the press box. Ennis is in the middle of a strong bounce-back season, and Trevor Moore’s playing style is just what this roster needs. Players like Wayne Simmonds and Ryan Dzingel are fine wingers, but given the depth of Toronto’s roster, they didn’t represent massive upgrades over their current options.
I want to play heavier, and Trevor Moore is going to help with that. I’m less concerned about winning fights in the playoffs, and more concerned about winning games in the playoffs. Moore is relentless on the puck and is not out of place as a puck carrier or scorer. If Mike Babcock can find the right combinations, this team is going to be scary.
I give Kyle Dubas credit for not caving into the pressure and making a questionable move. There’s always a few GMs who make a trade for the sake of making a trade, and pay far too much for a marginal upgrade. Doing next to nothing was probably for the best yesterday.