One of my favourite parts of rumour season is when you come across something so incredibly stupid that you worry that it has to be true because no one is just going to create it out of nothing. So goes the Jonathan Quick to Toronto rumour.
The Leafs are on the verge of losing their declining starter and his $5M at the end of this season to free agency, a move to bring in Quick would be one to bring in an older starter, with more term, more cap hit, and even worse results. The argument for Quick being that he got along well with Jack Campbell. You know who gets along with Jack Campbell? Everybody.
The idea of Quick coming in would be based on the Kings retaining salary, and that really doesn’t make it much more enticing. It still results in the Leafs paying over 3x the cost of Michael Hutchinson for essentially the same results. Even if the goal was to trade Frederik Andersen for Quick, and have half of Quick’s cap hit retained, I’m not sure the $2.1M cap savings now vs. the extra two years of having a $2.9M mediocre backup make the transaction in anyway palatable.
It’s because of all the reasons above that we should be encouraged that Elliotte Friedman on his 31 Thoughts podcast mentioned that the Leafs and Kings did talk about the possibility of a Quick trade, but it was most likely abandoned. On to the next cup of cold water.
MirtIe on the Leaf Report says he thinks Palmieri has TOR on his NTC and probably doesn’t want to quarantine.
— J (@Account4hockey) March 22, 2021
So maybe it’s also time to scratch Kyle Palmieri off the list of potential Leafs as well. The smallish, but physical scoring winger checked a lot of boxes for the Leafs, but he was going to come with big price tag. Now, the words “think” and “probably doesn’t” mean this probably isn’t etched in stone, but with no shortage of available wingers it’s probably not necessary to dwell on Palmieri much longer.
Frank Seravalli on TSN1260 today:
“I mentioned earlier last week. (TOR) has already engaged 3rd party teams to try and broker a deal cap space wise if they need to so that they could go after a player with a higher cap hit if that was what they desire”
— J (@Account4hockey) March 23, 2021
Now this is what I like to see. Toronto getting down and dirty and paying teams to take on some salary. We saw Toronto do this last year when they picked up a fifth round pick in order to retain some salary on Robin Lehner so the Golden Knights could afford to bring him in from Chicago. This year there are teams like Chicago, the New York Rangers, Detroit, and San Jose that could all be willing to play that game. None of those teams are in the Leafs division this year, and only Detroit is in their division next year, so helping Toronto out in order to pick up an asset for cap space isn’t something anyone is going to lose sleep over.
From a Toronto perspective this probably allows us to dream a little bigger, but it’s worth noting that the price to make a trade just got a little higher.
New names to consider…
The 31 Thoughts podcast certainly had a distinct rumour vibe to it, as I’m sure most hockey content will have over the next three weeks, but in addition to the dispelling of the Jonathan Quick rumour there are now a couple of new names to consider for the Maple Leafs, although neither of these players were specifically connected to Toronto.
Ryan Ellis’ name came up as player that teams might be trying to get out of Nashville instead of Mattias Ekholm. Ellis has a six year contract paying him $6.25M which will take him into his late thirties, so from a Predators perspective, he’s probably the guy I’d be more actively shopping, but not necessarily a player that the Leafs should be interested in over Ekholm. Previous interest from the Leafs in Ellis is probably just that, previous interest, and now his contract might be too much of a deterrent, at least as an in season move.
The more intriguing name, at least to me, is Tyler Bertuzzi. Presently on the Red Wings injured reserve, and without a set return date, Bertuzzi looks to be a lock as a 20 goal scorer in the years to come, and his hard nosed style would give the Leafs some addition physical presence in the top six. The biggest risk is that Bertuzzi might end up missing the remainder of the season, and that very well could include the playoffs. So if the health isn’t there, the Leafs probably aren’t going to be interested in acquiring him, even if he looks like a great fit on paper.
Defenceman Mac Hollowell, defenceman Kristians Rubins and forward Scott Sabourin have been reassigned to the @MapleLeafs taxi squad.
Defenceman Martin Marincin, defenceman Timothy Liljegren and forward Nic Petan have been reassigned to the @TorontoMarlies.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 23, 2021
Finally, this move is a little interesting in that it sends Timothy Liljegren down to the Marlies in time for tomorrow night’s game. It gives Liljegren another chance to play and could be the Leafs showcasing him. Of course it could also be the Leafs not wanting their taxi squad to sit idling during a bizarre stretch that only had 2 NHL games in 10 nights. To a lesser extent it’s also a chance to showcase Nic Petan, who could be a depth player that draws interest in the Leafs deadline transactions.
For now the waiting continues, but let us know what you think. Is Ellis a better target than Ekholm? Is bringing in Bertuzzi an option even if he is getting over a serious injury? Tell us in the comments below.