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Thursday FTB: Shopping for a forward (hopefully)

And New Jersey finally gets a win

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 05: Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning checks Ryan Strome #16 of the New York Rangers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 05, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It is so powerful to finally have our own superhero. Ms. Marvel is amazing, and apart from the interesting accent choice and lack of parental slippers to the head, it is a perfect story by brown people, of brown people, and for all. There’s a scene I’m pretty sure I experienced verbatim 10 years ago. I’ve never felt that before. Thank you New Jersey and Markham for this awesome story. Go watch Ms. Marvel!

Onto the Leafs forwards. We talked about goalies in the last FTB and Kyle Dubas has almost hired too many defenders, so today we talk about the forwards. I don’t know if the Leafs will have enough cap room to sign a decently important forward, what with the goalie situation completely up in the air. Campbell is probably gone, Mrazek may or may not be gone with his cap hit, and who know’s how much money the new guy(s) are going to take up.

But with whatever’s left, I hope the Leafs can address their second line left wing hole this summer, either through free agency (where generally older players just cost their slightly inflated cap hits) or via trade (where players cost assets and their cap hits). Solving roster issues through good free agency deals is always ideal, but life is never so simple unless you’re Michael Bunting.

I have compiled a list of seven forwards, ranging from legit top line players to second/third line tweeners. I don’t know how much the Leafs should expect to have to spend on forwards because right now it’s impossible to know, but I did make an attempt to create an educated guess for each player’s upcoming contract.

A note about the Lad Model(tm): I’m just making up these numbers the way most of us do; looking at capfriendly comparables and recent free agent signing history based on goals. I don’t have access to the Evolving Hockey projections and wouldn’t break their paywall if I did. Hopefully my numbers are round enough that not too many people get upset.

Let’s jump in.

Ondřej Palat (31 for next season)

The Zach Hyman of the (almost) three-time champions that could be had at a more reasonable price. I just love Palat’s game in all areas of the ice. A very strong possession forward, creates space for his superstar linemates through his forecheck and puck handling, and plays great defense. I would love to see him with Matthews. I really like him, can we have him please, Kyle?

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 6 x $6 million

Jesse Puljujärvi (24 for next season)

Someone who’s always been a great shooter growing up but had an awful shooting year this season for the Oilers. A fresh start could breathe offense back into his game, and his acquisition value is fairly reasonable. Rasmus Sandin has been very polarizing as a return, so in order to not get yelled at on this Thursday in June, let’s say Justin Holl.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 2 x $2 million

Nino Niederreiter (30 for next season)

Career above average shooter who drives play and can both be the wingman to the Tavares line as well as take on more of the responsibility of a 2C for the medium term. One of the benefits of this is that it makes Alex Kerfoot expendable via trade.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 6 x $5 million

Nick Paul (27 for next season)

Katya was talking about him as a great 6/7th forward before he scored two goals on the Leafs in Game 7, and I can see why. He’s big, he skates well, he scores, and he’s a diligent player all around the ice. He’s outperformed Brandon Hagel, Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, and everyone else below Palat (who’s their fourth guy) in the depth chart. There’s no surprise he’s become the 2C for the Lightning since Point got injured (sorry about that, Bolts). I’d take a long look at him in the Kerfoot bracket, but with different skills.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 4 x $3 million

Valeri Nichushkin (27 for next season)

Evolving Wild have gone on about Nichushkin so much it’s become a meme at this point. Thankfully great defensive numbers don’t pay unless you’re North American, play in the East, or are a captain. Nichushkin has been criminally underpaid throughout his career but would be worth opening the pocketbook for now.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 7 x $5 million

Andre Burakovsky (27 for next season)

A consistently great shooter and in the shadow of a lot of stars in Colorado, Burakovsky is another scoring winger that could be had for a reasonable middle-class contract (hockey middle class, not actual society). Like all shooters, he’s been labelled as inconsistent but still scores about 20 goals a season playing on the second line.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 5 x $4.5 million

Nazem Kadri (32 for next season)

Nifty Mitts won’t be coming back for a myriad of reasons, starting with the contract and the conversation ending with Kyle Dubas forcing him out instead of just firing Mike Babcock. Go get your money, Naz, you don’t deserve any of the hate you get from racist Blues fans and bitter Leafs fans. Disagree with me? Just check out Tim Peel’s Twitter. He probably says Karma with a hard “a”, too.

Estimated contract from the Lad Model(tm): 7 x $15 million


Various Leafs and Branches

Hockey gambling expert’s [Dom Luszczyszyn] personal experience shows good and bad of sports betting | by: CBC

Bruins GM Don Sweeney is getting ready for a big contract negotiation by asserting he doesn’t even need the guy he probably desperately wants to sign. If the Bruins start a tank, it’ll be after Pastrnak decides he doesn’t want an extension, not now. For now, they’re going to trade Jake DeBrusk (oh yeah, add him to the list I made above) and hope the men who call about Pastrnak are still willing to listen on the other guy at a much more reasonable price.

There’s been a lot of drama in Montreal recently. You can add this to the list.