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Have the Leafs wrapped Kasperi Kapanen in bubble wrap for the duration?

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Were they being cautious with an injury or overcautious with an asset? And what about the rest of their trade chips?

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Partway through the second period in the Monday night Leafs game in Nashville, everyone suddenly noticed Kasperi Kapanen wasn’t on the ice. The TV people never found anything to show as to why he was gone, and neither did I having a look at his last shift.

This is the last thing Kapanen did on the ice.

Prior to this, on this shift, he took a hit, and it looked like nothing. He didn’t show any signs of problems handling the puck, which he did quite a bit of. If fanning on a shot is a sign of a serious injury, William Nylander plays hurt all the time. But Kapanen could have had something bothering him in the intermission, but would he have missed any game time if he wasn’t the most talked about trade chip the Leafs have?

The word last night was that x-rays were negative, and they would decide later if he would play in Dallas on Wednesday.

Meanwhile later on in the TSN broadcast, Bob McKenzie talked Leafs and trade deadline. There’s no new news here, not really, just a slightly different spin on who the Leafs are willing to trade to, once again, add a defenceman. Kevin Papetti summed it up well, so I’m just going to let him talk:

What’s new here is that last year and through the summer, Timothy Liljegren was definitely not on any sort of internal no-trade list. Last year so much was going on, though, that’s it understandable that the Leafs needed to keep some options open. But no team would trade Rasmus Sandin. The number of 19-year-old defenders who can legitimately play in the NHL is not long. You don’t get rid of them.

As for Nick Robertson, you don’t trade a player like him either. It isn’t just that the Leafs certainly seem to have punched above their weight with a 53rd overall pick, it’s that he’s so young still, and playing so well, we can’t yet say for sure how far he’ll soar over an average second rounder, but it’s impossible not to get very exciting about his potential.

I was looking at points on Elite Prospects, which is a terrible way to judge players, but sometimes for a big picture look at players in leagues not the NHL, it’s interesting. This is the top 100 U19 player seasons since 2000-2001:

U19 Player Seasons in the OHL by PPG since 2000

# Player Season Team GP G A TP PPG
# Player Season Team GP G A TP PPG
1 Connor McDavid (C) 2014-2015 Erie Otters 47 44 76 120 2.55
2 Patrick Kane (RW) 2006-2007 London Knights 58 62 83 145 2.5
3 Corey Locke (C) 2002-2003 Ottawa 67's 66 63 88 151 2.29
4 Sam Gagner (C/W) 2006-2007 London Knights 53 35 83 118 2.23
5 Marco Rossi (C) 2019-2020 Ottawa 67's 37 28 53 81 2.19
6 Sam Bennett (C/LW) 2014-2015 Kingston Frontenacs 11 11 13 24 2.18
7 Connor McMichael (C) 2019-2020 London Knights 35 34 42 76 2.17
8 Jason Spezza (C) 2000-2001 totals 56 43 73 116 2.07
Mississauga IceDogs 15 7 23 30 2
Windsor Spitfires 41 36 50 86 2.1
9 Mitchell Marner (RW) 2015-2016 London Knights 57 39 77 116 2.04
10 John Tavares (C) 2006-2007 Oshawa Generals 67 72 62 134 2
11 Mitchell Marner (RW) 2014-2015 London Knights 63 44 82 126 2
12 John Tavares (C) 2007-2008 Oshawa Generals 59 40 78 118 2
13 Sam Nyberg (D) 2008-2009 Brampton Battalion 2 1 3 4 2
14 Kris Purawec (LW) 2005-2006 Oshawa Generals 1 1 1 2 2
15 Dylan Strome (C) 2015-2016 Erie Otters 56 37 74 111 1.98
16 Jason Spezza (C) 2001-2002 totals 53 42 63 105 1.98
Windsor Spitfires 27 19 26 45 1.67
Belleville Bulls 26 23 37 60 2.31
17 Quinton Byfield (C) 2019-2020 Sudbury Wolves 36 29 41 70 1.94
18 Dylan Strome (C) 2014-2015 Erie Otters 68 45 84 129 1.9
19 Taylor Raddysh (RW) 2016-2017 Erie Otters 58 42 67 109 1.88
20 Matthew Tkachuk (LW) 2015-2016 London Knights 57 30 77 107 1.88
21 Taylor Hall (LW) 2009-2010 Windsor Spitfires 57 40 66 106 1.86
22 John Tavares (C) 2008-2009 totals 56 58 46 104 1.86
Oshawa Generals 32 26 28 54 1.69
London Knights 24 32 18 50 2.08
23 Alex Galchenyuk (C/LW) 2012-2013 Sarnia Sting 33 27 34 61 1.85
24 Gabe Vilardi (C) 2017-2018 Kingston Frontenacs 32 22 36 58 1.81
25 Cole Perfetti (C) 2019-2020 Saginaw Spirit 46 28 54 82 1.78
26 Arthur Kaliyev (LW) 2019-2020 Hamilton Bulldogs 40 32 39 71 1.78
27 Jamieson Rees (C) 2019-2020 Sarnia Sting 26 17 29 46 1.77
28 Connor McDavid (C) 2013-2014 Erie Otters 56 28 71 99 1.77
29 Cody Hodgson (C) 2008-2009 Brampton Battalion 53 43 49 92 1.74
30 Kyle Wellwood (C) 2000-2001 Belleville Bulls 68 35 83 118 1.74
31 Philip Tomasino (C) 2019-2020 totals 45 32 46 78 1.73
Niagara IceDogs 36 22 35 57 1.58
Oshawa Generals 9 10 11 21 2.33
32 Steven Stamkos (C/W) 2007-2008 Sarnia Sting 61 58 47 105 1.72
33 Corey Perry (RW) 2003-2004 London Knights 66 40 73 113 1.71
34 Bryan Little (C) 2005-2006 Barrie Colts 64 42 67 109 1.7
35 Robby Fabbri (C/LW) 2014-2015 Guelph Storm 30 25 26 51 1.7
36 Barrett Hayton (C) 2018-2019 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 39 26 40 66 1.69
37 Alex DeBrincat (RW/LW) 2015-2016 Erie Otters 60 51 50 101 1.68
38 Travis Konecny (RW/LW) 2015-2016 totals 60 30 71 101 1.68
Ottawa 67's 29 7 38 45 1.55
Sarnia Sting 31 23 33 56 1.81
39 Tyler Seguin (C) 2009-2010 Plymouth Whalers 63 48 58 106 1.68
40 Nicholas Robertson (C/LW) 2019-2020 Peterborough Petes 31 34 18 52 1.68
41 Morgan Frost (C) 2017-2018 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 67 42 70 112 1.67
42 Michael Dal Colle (LW/RW) 2014-2015 Oshawa Generals 56 42 51 93 1.66
43 Christian Dvorak (C) 2014-2015 London Knights 66 41 68 109 1.65
44 Cory Emmerton (C) 2006-2007 Kingston Frontenacs 40 29 37 66 1.65
45 Nail Yakupov (RW/LW) 2011-2012 Sarnia Sting 42 31 38 69 1.64
46 Andrei Svechnikov (RW/LW) 2017-2018 Barrie Colts 44 40 32 72 1.64
47 Ryan Strome (C/RW) 2010-2011 Niagara IceDogs 65 33 73 106 1.63
48 Akil Thomas (C) 2018-2019 Niagara IceDogs 63 38 64 102 1.62
49 Bobby Ryan (RW/LW) 2005-2006 Owen Sound Attack 59 31 64 95 1.61
50 Sam Bennett (C/LW) 2013-2014 Kingston Frontenacs 57 36 55 91 1.6
51 Tyler Toffoli (RW) 2010-2011 Ottawa 67's 68 57 51 108 1.59
52 Steve Ott (C/W) 2000-2001 Windsor Spitfires 55 50 37 87 1.58
53 Nick Suzuki (C) 2017-2018 Owen Sound Attack 64 42 58 100 1.56
54 Ryan Ellis (D) 2008-2009 Windsor Spitfires 57 22 67 89 1.56
55 Nail Yakupov (RW/LW) 2010-2011 Sarnia Sting 65 49 52 101 1.55
56 Patrick O'Sullivan (C) 2003-2004 Mississauga IceDogs 53 43 39 82 1.55
57 Adam Mascherin (LW) 2016-2017 Kitchener Rangers 65 35 65 100 1.54
58 Mike Richards (C) 2003-2004 Kitchener Rangers 58 36 59 89 1.53
59 Eric Himelfarb (C) 2000-2001 Sarnia Sting 49 31 44 75 1.53
60 Robert Thomas (C/RW) 2017-2018 totals 49 24 51 75 1.53
London Knights 27 20 26 46 1.7
Hamilton Bulldogs 22 4 25 29 1.32
61 Alex DeBrincat (RW/LW) 2014-2015 Erie Otters 68 51 53 104 1.53
62 Andrew Mangiapane (LW) 2014-2015 Barrie Colts 68 43 61 104 1.53
63 André Burakovsky (LW/RW) 2013-2014 Erie Otters 57 41 46 87 1.53
64 Brad Boyes (RW) 2000-2001 Erie Otters 59 45 45 90 1.53
65 Taylor Beck (RW/LW) 2009-2010 Guelph Storm 61 39 54 93 1.52
66 Max Domi (C/LW) 2013-2014 London Knights 61 34 59 93 1.52
67 Arthur Kaliyev (LW) 2018-2019 Hamilton Bulldogs 67 51 51 102 1.52
68 Stephen Weiss (C) 2001-2002 Plymouth Whalers 46 25 45 70 1.52
69 Steve Downie (RW) 2005-2006 totals 35 19 34 53 1.51
Windsor Spitfires 1 3 0 3 3
Peterborough Petes 34 16 34 50 1.47
70 Christian Thomas (RW) 2010-2011 Oshawa Generals 66 54 45 99 1.5
71 Robby Fabbri (C/LW) 2013-2014 Guelph Storm 58 45 42 87 1.5
72 Mike Vlajkov (D) 2013-2014 Ottawa 67's 2 1 2 3 1.5
73 Shane Prince (LW/RW) 2010-2011 Ottawa 67's 59 25 63 88 1.49
74 Chris Terry (LW/RW) 2007-2008 Plymouth Whalers 68 44 57 101 1.49
75 Eric Staal (C) 2002-2003 Peterborough Petes 66 39 59 98 1.48
76 Ryan Strome (C/RW) 2011-2012 Niagara IceDogs 46 30 38 68 1.48
77 Nick Suzuki (C) 2016-2017 Owen Sound Attack 65 45 51 96 1.48
78 Brett MacLean (RW) 2006-2007 Oshawa Generals 68 47 53 100 1.47
79 Owen Tippett (RW/LW) 2017-2018 Mississauga Steelheads 51 36 39 75 1.47
80 Riley Damiani (C) 2018-2019 Kitchener Rangers 58 30 55 85 1.47
81 Steven Stamkos (C/W) 2006-2007 Sarnia Sting 63 42 50 92 1.46
82 Rob Schremp (C) 2004-2005 London Knights 62 41 49 90 1.45
83 Patrick O'Sullivan (C) 2002-2003 Mississauga IceDogs 56 40 41 81 1.45
84 Jared McCann (C/LW) 2014-2015 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 56 34 47 81 1.45
85 Logan Couture (C) 2006-2007 Ottawa 67's 54 26 52 78 1.44
86 Dougie Hamilton (D) 2011-2012 Niagara IceDogs 50 17 55 72 1.44
87 Derek Roy (C) 2001-2002 Kitchener Rangers 62 43 46 89 1.44
88 Bobby Ryan (RW/LW) 2004-2005 Owen Sound Attack 62 37 52 89 1.44
89 Josh Bailey (RW/LW) 2007-2008 Windsor Spitfires 67 29 67 96 1.43
90 Jeremy Morin (RW/LW) 2009-2010 Kitchener Rangers 58 47 36 83 1.43
91 Taylor Hall (LW) 2008-2009 Windsor Spitfires 63 38 52 90 1.43
92 Jordan Kyrou (C/RW) 2016-2017 Sarnia Sting 66 30 64 94 1.42
93 Michael Dal Colle (LW/RW) 2013-2014 Oshawa Generals 67 39 56 95 1.42
94 Tobias Rieder (RW/LW) 2011-2012 Kitchener Rangers 60 42 43 85 1.42
95 Jeff Skinner (LW) 2009-2010 Kitchener Rangers 64 50 40 90 1.41
96 Stephen Weiss (C) 2000-2001 Plymouth Whalers 62 40 47 87 1.4
97 Chris Stewart (RW/LW) 2005-2006 Kingston Frontenacs 62 37 50 87 1.4
98 Nikolay Goldobin (RW/LW) 2013-2014 Sarnia Sting 67 38 56 94 1.4
99 Brendan Perlini (LW/RW) 2014-2015 Niagara IceDogs 43 26 34 60 1.4
100 Greg McKegg (C/LW) 2010-2011 Erie Otters 66 49 43 92 1.39

There’s eight players here from this season, which is not the most from a single year, but is still fairly unusual. Some of them haven’t been drafted yet, and if you don’t know the name Marco Rossi, you might as well learn it now, because he’s making a case for a future as the best Austrian hockey player ever. But look down the list, and see how many names you don’t know. (Don’t count the two guys who only played a couple of games.)

There’s only one player in the top 40 who never had a serious NHL career or isn’t currently a top prospect. By the time you get to the rate Robertson is scoring at, it’s clear the quality is getting a little more mixed, and he’s not John Tavares, on the list every year. But he’s in there with the players who are top draft picks this year. And no those guys aren’t a year younger than him. Nick Robertson is 12 days older than Marco Rossi.

The man who didn’t make it is Corey Locke, 35 now and just retired. He was a good player, maybe even great in junior, but he was drafted in the fourth round by Montréal after that amazing OHL season. He played a lot of AHL hockey for a lot of years, and finished with .89 points per game there, or just a hair under what a scoring forward usually produces to be the absolute cream of the crop.

Locke had three NHL games for the Rangers, five more for the Senators and then he went to Europe and toured the leagues before settling in to dominate the EBEL in his thirties. Locke is 5’9” and 165 lbs. And maybe he was born a decade too soon, or maybe he just didn’t quite have it, but that’s the tale of the one man on that list who never made it.

And that’s the fear about Robertson, of course. But the NHL is different now, and if you’re scoring in that class in the OHL (and Robertson is doing it with both a massive shooting percentage and a very, very high shot rate) then you’re going to get a real shot at doing that in the NHL. No one is going to trade you as a prospect when you’re in that class.

Jeremy Bracco is a different story. I think we all expect him to be traded, and I think back to last summer, when so much was happening, and with the gift of hindsight, it sure looks like that was the time to use Bracco to sweeten some pot. He’s not suddenly bad now that his points per game rate in the AHL has dropped to .79 from 1.1. But he is struggling to produce on the roster as it is now. It looks like he wasn’t the driver of his line last year, and you might think it all was Chris Mueller all along. Mueller has slowed down too, so maybe it was both of them getting the job done.

Bracco has looked lately like he’s not trying, but also sometimes like there’s a bounce back just waiting for an opportunity.

It’s interesting that when the AHL All-Star Game was short players at the last minute, it was Liljegren and Bracco who got sent. Bracco’s been there and done that, so he was a good choice, though not an All-Star by his play this year. But it never hurts to get a player like him out in front of some eyes in the Western Conference, so I doubt the GM of the Marlies had to think too hard about sending him.

It’s very hard to tell right now how serious the Maple Leafs are about making a trade. But it looks like Kapanen is going to be protected from harm for a few weeks, and it looks like Bracco just got put on display, but then maybe that’s all just how the dice rolled. Last year it felt more definite that a trade was coming. This year seems so uncertain in so many ways.

But what’s your take on this? Who do you think won’t be on the Leafs come February 25?

Poll

Who will be gone by the deadline?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Jeremy Bracco
    (166 votes)
  • 12%
    Kasperi Kapanen
    (154 votes)
  • 8%
    Andreas Johnsson
    (113 votes)
  • 51%
    A package deal of some or all of those players
    (657 votes)
  • 14%
    No one will get traded at all
    (180 votes)
1270 votes total Vote Now