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.
What a pass to Kapanen from Nylander pic.twitter.com/2ZzjlgUCVA— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 28, 2020
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:
Bob McKenzie says the Leafs aren't interested in trading Sandin, Liljegren, or Robertson.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) January 28, 2020
Not all that interested in trading another first either.
As expected, it sounds like Kapanen and Johnsson are the more likely pieces to move if the Leafs add a defenceman.
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
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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?
Who will be gone by the deadline?
This poll is closed
A package deal of some or all of those players
No one will get traded at all