We have a trade to announce....

From Toronto: 2018 1st round pick (25th overall), Jeremy Bracco, and the rights to Tyler Bozak
From Philadelphia: Wayne Simmonds

I wanted to make an impactful statement here like “the time for rebuilding is over” but it just sounds silly coming from me, I’m just some guy writing on a website. When we were discussing the mock draft, we were going over who we could pick and it was so…. boring, I guess is the word. No one could quite agree on a pick. Calen Addison was a popular choice. We considered prospects like Jett Woo, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Akil Thomas and others, but did we want to make another draft profile? We could do that any time. Then the idea came: let’s make a trade.

Now, there are selfish reasons for this decision and it’s because this series is meant to be two things:

  1. A fun, silly exercise.
  2. A fun silly exercise to draw in readers who go click, click, click on the links.

After saying it out loud it was obvious; let’s do something silly and fun. So, we talked about players we liked who fit a mold the Leafs are looking for and would be worth a late first round pick and got to messaging other site managers. We got through to four of them and it resulted in two trade offers, one trade rejection, and one gang of folks who didn’t want to have any fun with us.

I pulled up this article I wrote before the trade deadline last season, and advocated to bring Max Pacioretty into the fold. I went off to find someone from Eyes on the Prize who would play along. I offered up pick #25, Frederik Gauthier, and another Marlie like Andreas Borgman or whatever. Not a bad offer for what is essentially a season long rental. It’s better than what the Habs got for Tomas Plekanec for sure. Alas, my dreams were shattered when I was told “We don’t do trades in the mock draft. We hate fun and take this super seriously”, but I may be paraphrasing there.

Fine, off to suitor #2 we went. Jeff Skinner was the next target and an offer of #25, Andrew Nielsen, Josh Leivo or whatever Marlies you’d want. Again, we were left out in the cold since that was “a rebuilding trade” and the staff over at Canes Country figure they’re just a centre and a goalie away from being a proper team. Aren’t they all, though?

Then things got fun. Mile High Hockey laughed me off the internet when I said the name “Gabriel Landeskog” but eventually came back with Tyson Barrie in exchange for #25, Kasperi Kapanen, and Garret Sparks. A RHD with two years left in exchange for a fun to watch forward, a AAAA goalie, and a late first? Very intriguing.

Broad Street Hockey then got involved with Wayne Simmonds for Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson and #25. So popular all of a sudden! We decided Kapanen was a no go, well, all of us except Katya who took the rational position of “[Barrie] is a player the Leafs need in a position they need help with but you’re going to pass that down for someone fun to watch? Fine.”

After not getting noted Connor Brown hater Tom Hunter at MHH to swap Kapanen for Brown we went back to the Flyers and talked them down from Kapanen to the deal we have above. We were tempted to make it the rights to JVR just to have him go full circle, but settled on Bozak for the “Wait, what?”-ness of it.

There’s the ‘how’ we made the trade, and now the ‘why’.

The Maple Leafs are in a bit of a bridge year for this upcoming season. There’s a good group of forwards coming back from last season: Mitchell Marner, William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, Kasperi Kapanen, Patrick Marleau, Connor Brown, and Zach Hyman. There are Marlies like Andreas Johnsson, and potentially players like Trevor Moore, and Mason Marchment who are making cases for themselves to be bumped up a league (certainly Johnsson will be a NHLer next season). Matt Martin is still around too, I guess. On defense the Leafs are locked into Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, and probably Travis Dermott. Frederik Andersen will be back in net and there’s a plethora of backups to choose from.

So, what do the Leafs do? Do they promote and just fill holes with the Calder Cup champions? Or do they make some trades for short term veteran players to help them transition from rebuilding to contender? The Leafs need a power forward type, and putting a 40 point player like Wayne Simmonds on the second or third line can only benefit the team. Not many playoff successful teams rely on plugging all of the holes with AHLers; previous cup winners rarely go for this strategy. So perhaps to get out of the mindset of rebuilder, the Leafs need to make a trade.

I think a trade is what we need as a fanbase to shake off the last of the plaster dust from the remodeling and start buying some art to hang on the walls. We’ve drywalled, and painted, and gotten some nice new flooring down, and get ready for knick-knacks because when you start to decorate, you know the rebuilding is over.

Not everyone was super gung-ho about making a trade around here, and there are benefits and drawbacks to trading or keeping the pick, for sure. The perpetual rebuild is safest as a fan, because every prospect that’s killing it in the AHL gives you hope, when you’ve filled your team with young players it means it’s only uphill from here. I want to catch up with the other team and compete in the playoffs. I want to see past the first round. Let’s go.

Inside this very mock trade —Katya Knappe

When a mock draft is done by 31 different fan sites, it becomes, more realistic than one person’s list but also totally fake. The only actual consequences to your actions are the potential for disdain from random internet people who haven’t read past the headline. The age of social media means all writing is narrowed by fear of the response. Or the drive to generate the clickz.

Seldo’s point about how dull we found the prospect of picking from the dregs after a bunch of bloggers had already picked over the blogger-type good stuff is valid. The unexpected aspect to this trading business was how strong the psychological effects were in deciding what to do when you had actual people saying no to you.

Kevin wanted to trade for Jeff Skinner. That’s not news, but so did I. I really love him, and I am not afraid of his injury history.  I’d take Gabriel Landeskog by preference, but he’s not really being traded, and Skinner, inexplicably, is.

What do you do when the other team doesn’t want to dance? The Canes site really thought that a full year rental was worth more than I think one is. We moved on.

The Avs offer was interesting, and if you said to me pick the one RHD in the NHL you want, it wouldn’t be Tyson Barrie, and I do think he’s too much more of the same on top of Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner, but I’d make that deal anyway. A crappy first and a prospect for a big-minute defender who skates like that? Yes. Barrie also has another year on his contract than Skinner. The consensus was that Barrie just isn’t good enough for that price, or not the right fit.  We moved on.

Wayne Simmonds instead of Landeskog became a sort of consolation deal. If you only look at his recent season played through injury, you might be unimpressed. He hasn’t got quite the name or the fame of some of the other players with similar sorts of results. This trade won’t make your friends jealous of your team on twitter, and that is what it’s all about, right?

I said yes to this deal, and so did others, or at least few said no, we are a sort of consensus autocracy around here, and I wouldn’t complain about it in real life, but I’m only halfway happy with it.

The Leafs are good at takeaways. But they do that mostly with speed and positioning, so when the game moves to the perimetre, because a team like Boston has smothered the centre of the ice, the job of getting the puck back gets tougher. They need forechecking from more than just Zach Hyman and Andreas Johnsson.

And that’s where Wayne Simmonds comes in. What he lacks in the ability Skinner has to drive play, he makes up for with forechecking abandon and also power play skills.

That’s the rational consideration. Simmonds is not perfect, but he improves the team more than an average 25th overall pick will five years from now.  The irrational drive was a powerful reluctance to cut losses on this wheeling and dealing and just make the pick. I’ve said I admire Lou for his ability to say no, but now I get it. The pull to get something out of the time you’ve invested in the negotiating itself is incredible.

Also. This happened on election night. I was watching the Marlies, and I only knew the election results filtered by the feelings of others. And any GM at any time dealing a pick has a life and feels things, and they learn how to put that aside, sure. But when it’s a mock draft, you want something fun.

In the end, I said, to hell with it, let’s have a fun guy to talk about. Let’s bring home our hometown hero in our imaginations and put him on our ice. Let’s imagine a world where the Leafs add really good players in their primes (no offence, Patty), who will score goals and who will fuck your shit up if you deserve it.  Let’s imagine rising in a roar to cheer for someone really good, not just the big three, and not only backed up by a collection of AHL graduates  we have to work really hard to convince ourselves are great. No, let’s have a real hockey player who could make the team great for real, in a totally fake and imaginary way.

I’m sure deals have been done for less good reasons.

What should we have done?

Simmonds for 25, Bracco, and Bozak581
Barrie for 25, Kapanen, and Sparks207
Should have pushed harder for Jeff Skinner127
Should have pushed for Max Pacioretty29
Make the pick, it’s not time to bring in a veteran363