Update Feb. 21: scroll down for the latest...
I saw the headline for tonight’s Insider Trading, and I sighed.
Insider Trading: Is there a real possibility the Leafs move Barrie?
But then I listened to it, and I sighed harder. I’d assumed this was the same old, “Yes we’ll listen to any offer,” sort of talk from Kyle Dubas. Hell, he’ll listen if you have an offer to buy the SBA. Are you Jeff Bezos? Do you want to pay a billion? Sure, he’ll hook you up.
But you’re a GM and you want Tyson Barrie? That seems like you’d get a polite laugh, and Dubas colour codes your name to “one of the dumb GMs” in his spreadsheet.
Bob McKenzie had this story tonight, which immediately makes it seem more plausible. It’s not like Darren Dreger telling you what’s what with Ferris’s clients, or Pierre LeBrun doing yet another segment on the travels of Wayne Simmonds, this is Bob. And if he tells a joke, no one laughs because they think it’s probably true.
He sets it up by mentioning, and I don’t know if you heard this, but the Leafs played badly two games in a row. So then he says that, because of that and all the other defenceman trades going off early, GMs started calling Dubas about Tyson Barrie.
He says, the Leafs said, “We would consider under the right set of circumstances trading Tyson Barrie.” And yes, that sounds like the standard answer that means that if you want to overpay, Dubas will cash your cheque.
McKenzie goes on to say that the Leafs would not trade Barrie as a rental in the usual way. This is not a pick and a prospect deal, because despite how it looks right now, the Leafs are in win-now mode. For Barrie, they would either need to get a defenceman who makes them better now, or “picks and prospects that they could immediately turn around and parlay into that mythical unicorn right-shot defenceman that they’re looking to play with Morgan Rielly.”
Bob. His name is Sparky, and we’ve been writing about him for years.
And that’s the first clue that this is a lot of nothing but something to say when the Leafs are on the ice the second-last time before the deadline. Because, Bob, why wouldn’t the team who wants Barrie just trade for Sparky? The answer, if Sparky was real, is that Barrie’s cap hit is low and he is a rental and the team that wants him might want a guy under those circumstances. Sure, I’ll buy that. Barely.
McKenzie says one of the “lots of teams interested” that called was Vancouver. And then he gets to the real news here. He buried the lead, I shovelled more dirt on it than you can imagine, but here we are. He mentioned, not in context of a Barrie deal as he’d segued off of that, but he named Troy Stecher.
Stecher is 25, a right-shooting defender who is paid $2.325 million on a deal that runs out this summer. Stecher is in his fourth year in the NHL, and I seem to recall he was a stats-nerd darling last year.
And he does seem to have had a good season last year, while not really doing that this year. He’s not a top-four defender by his minutes, but he’s not a Roman Polak, use as little as possible type guy either.
I can see why McKenzie buried this lead, but you know, the Leafs trading for Stecher is a lot more plausible than them trading away Tyson Barrie, The question I have is, don’t the Leafs already have Troy Stecher at a slightly too much AAV in Justin Holl? Why do we want two of them?
I don’t think the Leafs are trading Tyson Barrie, not unless they move the trade deadline to the end of March. Stecher may be ours come Monday morning.
Update: Frank Seravalli has some more details on this.
Seravalli today had expanded on Bob McKenzie’s story with details on three of the other teams that have been calling. He has nothing more to say about Vancouver, but about the other three teams he says this:
Calgary Flames: He believes the Leafs and Flames discussed a one-for-one swap of Tyson Barrie and T.J. Brodie. He also says this might be tabled now.
Brodie is a left-shooting 29-year-old defender who has a $4.65 million cap hit and an eight-team no-trade list. His contract expires this summer, meaning tagging space is not a concern.
Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights moved out Cody Eakin earlier today, freeing up some cap space. They are, according to Seravalli, only interested in a sign-and-trade deal like they did with Mark Stone last year. There was no discussion there on what would come back.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes want a rental to replace the injured Dougie Hamilton. They don’t want term, making them the best possible trading partner for a UFA defenceman on a salary-retained deal. Nothing was said about the return there either.
All of this could be nothing, or it could be the start of something. As always, at trade time, you hear about conversations, but no one can tell you how serious they were.