Welcome to the Bench: 2016 Maple Leafs Trade Deadline Edition
Born: 6/23/1983 (32 years old) Wawota, Saskatchewan, Canada
Drafted: 6th round (193rd overall) in 2001 by Ottawa Senators
Teams: Ottawa Senators (2003-2004), Washington Capitals (2003-2016)
Weight: 195 lbs
Born: 4/33/1994 (21 years old) Orland Park, Illinois, USA
Drafted: 5th round (137th overall) in 2012 by Washington Capitals
Teams: Washington Capitals (2013-2016)
Weight: 185 lbs
Born: 7/11/1988 (27 years old) Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Drafted: 6th round (169th overall) in 2008 by Chicago Blackhawks
Teams: Chicago Blackhawks (2010-2015), San Jose Sharks (2014-16)
Position: Right Wing
Weight: 199 lbs
Born: 7/28/1987 (28 years old) St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Drafted: 4th round (112th overall) in 2005 by San Jose
Teams: San Jose Sharks (2010-16)
Weight: 190 lbs
Born: 6/20/1993 (22 years old) Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Drafted: 7th round (192nd overall) in 2012 by Colorado Avalanche
Teams: Colorado Avalanche (2014-2015)
Position: Right Wing
Weight: 178 lbs
Fire-Sale February is finally over. Over the course of a month the Leafs have moved 2 pillars of the old regime after trading captain Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa and James “Optimus Reim”er to San Jose, as well as flipped many role players for draft picks. After the dust settled the Leafs now look like an AHL team rather than a very bad NHL team.
They also leave February with a heap of draft picks. If Pittsburgh misses the playoffs then the Leafs have 12 draft picks in this summer’s draft which, after years of JFJ, Burkie and fat JFK handing out draft picks like the Lions Club giving away candy at a Christmas parade, is a shock to the system.
I’m a huge fan of this new strategy, although I’m still mourning the loss of Reimer. He was the only reason the Leafs even made it to a Game 7 in 2012-13, was a class-act even after unfairly losing his job to Bernier and was very underrated throughout his tenure in Toronto. It’s a shame the Leafs couldn’t get more than a fourth round pick for him–Stalock’s a UFA at the end of the year and Morin for Ben Smith is a pretty lateral move–but San Jose was the only playoff team in the goalie market so the Leafs were handcuffed. If you’re also feeling blue about losing Reimer for nothing, there is a silver lining: a Bernier-Sparks tandem from here on out will get them one step closer to Auston Matthews.
The Shawn Matthias trade was a nice little return for a 17 point center. The fourth round pick is the key here as Matthias was another UFA earmarked to be flipped by the Leafs at the deadline. On top of that, Colin Smith is definitely an interesting add to the trade. The small two-way center is an under-the-radar former seventh round pick. Every scouting report I have read on him describes him as a deft passer who plays with a tenacious edge. He will likely spend the rest of the year with the Marlies but don’t be shocked to see him challenge for a bottom six spot in the next couple of years. The fact that Matthias garnered a greater return than Reimer is just a testament to how weak the goalie market was.
The last trade the Leafs made before the deadline was dealing Daniel Winnik to the Capitals for Carrick, Laich and a second round pick. This is huge, although it would have been cool to keep Winnik. After being dealt to Pittsburgh last season, he actually came back on a two year deal. He plays a hard-nosed game with some scoring touch, but more importantly he actually wanted to be here! The return was just too good to turn down.
Laich was in the deal purely to give Washington enough room for Winnik. At age 32 he only has 7 points in 60 games for the Caps and it looks like his days as a top 6 forward are nothing but a distant memory. After losing Elisha Cuthbert and April Reimer in two deals this February, Laich and his dancer fiancee Julianne Hough replenish the Maple Leafs spousal department.
While the draft pick that the Leafs got is huge, Carrick could be the real prize of the trade. The Hockey News had Carrick ranked as Washington’s fourth best prospect going into the season and classified him as a “reliable AHL scorer on the PP and even strength”. Carrick is a small puck moving defenseman with a heavy shot, and has the kind of upside that sets him apart from Harrington, Percy, Loov or Corrado. He is a right-handed shot which is very valuable to a Leafs team that only has 3 right-handed defensemen in their entire system. Carrick will get every chance to play for the Leafs over the next couple of seasons so fingers crossed that he pans out.
While the Leafs failed to move pending UFAs Boyes, Grabner and Paranteau, I would label this trade deadline as a wild success. The fact that Lou was able to flip Polak and Spaling for 2 second rounders still has me stunned. Their stockpiling of draft picks sets them up well to restock the prospect cupboards this summer. The ball is now in Mark Hunter’s court.