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Maple Leafs trade Filip Hållander for Jared McCann

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Leafs also give up a seventh-round pick.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In an unusual deal, the Maple Leafs are trading back to the Penguins the prospect they got from them last offseason for Kasperi Kapanen. This time, they’ve acquired a centre/left wing who is not a prospect.

Jared McCann is 25, and under contract through the coming season with an AAV of $2.94 million. He expires as an RFA with arbitration rights. His Qualifying Offer next summer will be $3.38 million, so his discount nature is fleeting.

With the expectation that the Maple Leafs will expose Alexander Kerfoot in the expansion draft when they submit their list later today, the Leafs have just cut the age and cap hit of their best third-line centre option.

Beloved by the stats-minded fans, because of charts like this:

Evolving Hockey

McCann is likely being a very small amount overrated for his effect on offence in this view, but there’s no way he isn’t an excellent all-around player, something Alexander Kerfoot, with more limited talents, is not.

This looks, on paper, like an excellent move that ticked all the boxes of Leafs needs at a discount. The only loss is to the very few fans who had a chance to get to know and like Hållander’s game in the SHL. Obviously Pittsburgh still likes him. The assumption is the seventh-round pick is next year’s, leaving the Leafs with three this year.

Correction:

Expansion Draft

McCann was on the bubble in Pittsburgh because he is expansion draft eligible, so what are the Leafs thinking adding a forward they need to protect?

If they are, contrary to every report so far, going to use the seven forwards, three defenders and one goalie protection system, the exposure risks remain Justin Holl and Travis Dermott. Both Alexander Kerfoot and Jared McCann could be protected in that system, but Holl would likely be lost. This will be a great idea only if the Leafs have a plan to address their defensive needs. If they do, this is the ideal strategy. But replacing a top-four viable defender at his cap hit will be difficult.

If they use the eight skaters and one goalie formula, they can’t protect either of Kerfoot and McCann and one would be taken, leaving them right where they are now in terms of players to fill necessary slots. All at the cost of one prospect and one pick.

If they have made a deal with Seattle to take Kerfoot and leave McCann alone, then they have achieved improvement at the third-line centre position at the cost of the prospect, the pick and whatever the Kraken are charging to make this choice over and above Kerfoot himself.

Until the expansion draft picks are revealed next week, we won’t know what the outcome is, but at the moment, there are a lot of good ways this can turn out, and really only one bad one. But it certainly looks as though this is part of a larger plan, and not a seat of the pants move.

We’ll see where this goes.