NHL Rumors IV: Maple Leafs and the Idea of Trading Up at the Draft

  •  Mike Ziesberger of the Toronto Sun: There is talk that the Maple Leafs are interested in moving up in the draft. At the draft combine, the Leafs set up a late interview with one of the players that is projected to go in the top three.

    “Word is, they are exploring moving up — it’s more than due diligence,” said a source familiar with the Leafs activities at the combine.

  • Damien Cox of the Toronto Star: The Leafs need to get creative to increase their talent, and moving up in draft could be one way to do so. Their 2015 1st round pick and Morgan Rielly are untouchable. Moving one of Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri would be intriguing.
  • Hope Smoke: Bob McKenzie: “There is one player the Leafs would be interested at the tip of the draft and that’s Sam Bennett” … “The scouts aren’t saying he’ll be as good as him but they compare Bennett’s game to Toews” … “I have no specific knowledge that the Leafs are trying to get up in that spot or that they want Bennett, but for a team that needs centre iceman that’s an option for them” … “Bennett is a centre, but he’s not a franchise defining player by any stretch of the imagination like a McDavid or Eichel” … “Bennett’s a real good C. There are a lot of scouts I talk to, and you have to be real careful how you throw this word around, but he plays like Jonathan Toews. Plays a similar game. Scouts aren’t saying he’ll be as good as Toews.” … “They are saying, when you have a player with those kinds of qualities that play the 200′ game that have some edge to his game, but also has the ability to be offensive and make plays, that’s an intriguing possibility” … “So, if you’re the Leafs & you’re always looking for that centre that can play in the league for 10-15 years this might be the guy”
  • Hope Smoke: Ray Ferraro: “If you’re moving up to get that pick in the draft, you’re making a significant move. You’re not moving your third line winger” … “Do you move Kadri and your 1st for the top pick? That’s the type of guy you’d need to move. Around that age”


  1. Jeff

    June 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I think its more likely they could move to, or trade for, #5. Depends on what direction Shanahan wants to go in, and which veterans he is willing to ship out.

  2. Chris

    June 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I honestly think if they stay at 8 then they’ll get a high end prospect like Brett Ritchie, Jake Virtanen, Nikolaj Ehlers or Willie Nylander and by staying at 8 they can keep Kadri (a 23 year old 50 point centre) and Phaneuf (a top 2 d man) and other young players.

    I fear though that the following will happen:

    Nonis will trade something like Kadri and #8 for the #1.

    Nonis will draft Ekblad or Bennet or whoever and they’ll end up being okay while Kadri will turn into a 70 – 80 point guy in Florida along with whatever winger they draft at 8 and the Leafs will look like dumbasses….just like they did when they traded #30 (Rickard Rackell) and #39 (John Gibson) for #22 (Tyler Biggs).

    How about they just scout and develop better and stop picking big stone handed behemoths like Biggs, Gauthier, Broll, Devane etc. who have bottom six trajectories at best and instead take a swing at guys with actual skill. Yeah the skill might not translate to the NHL but if it does then you have top six and top four players which are far tougher and more expensive to acquire than 4th line plugs or bottom pair d men.

  3. B

    June 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Very well said, Chris. I feel you all the way.

  4. P.B.

    June 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I would personally rather draft Sam Reinhart if they were to move up to the top, or Aaron Ekblad. To me Bennet isn’t worth the lost assets.

  5. Dan

    June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    @P.B. Reinhart was NOT impressive at all at the World Juniors. He is one of the oldest players in this draft class, Nov/95, and if he had been born a month earlier would have been in last years draft….and would have been lucky to have been in the top 20. Like his brother Griffen, he will be barely average.

  6. Mike

    June 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I’m in Florida, I scoff at a proposal to receive Kadri and #8 for the #1 overall. I realize Leafs fans value Kadri a lot, but think of it from their perspective. Florida and #8 doesn’t get it done. Perhaps Kadri + #8 + 2015 2nd .

  7. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Leaf fans, either your team is absolute crap and Dion is a top 2 defenceman or your team is average and Dion is a 4-5 defenceman. Not both

  8. brent

    June 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Keep your pick. You’d be nuts not to take Kadri and #8. I hope TO is not that stupid.

  9. Mike

    June 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I agree. This trade is crap for both teams. At #8 this year you may well end up getting the best player in the whole draft anyway.

  10. Jeff

    June 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I usually agree with commenters taking “Leafs Fans” to task, but what Ross says above is complete nonsense.

    Absolutely no one in and around the NHL, believes Dion Phaneuf is a #4 or #5 D-Man.

    He is likely an average/above average #2, depending on his partner, and would be an Elite #3 (if playing on a team strong enough, that he is a #3).

    Furthermore, if you asked him to play 18-20 mins per night as a second unit D, and asked him to be creative, he could quite easily be a top 5-7 scoring D man again.

    He is asked to do WAY to much for the Blue and White. Beyond what he is capable of doing.

  11. Jeff

    June 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    If FLA looks to move #1, i would assume they are looking for at least one established and controllable NHL defenceman and/or a veteran top six forward.

    Tallon is likely talking to teams that have had a recent change in management (like Toronto), and i would think that Vancouver (targets: Hamhuis, Bieksa, maybe Kelser) would be an interesting team to match up with.

    I think Tallon looks for a blockbuster deal, and a “Kadri” isnt that.

  12. ChrisB

    June 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    And yet more Toronto/1st rumours. Although, it’s nice to see Ferraro is feeling left out, and deciding to throw his 2 cents in. This is getting kind of stale, but since its Toronto media types, I wouldn’t expect anything otherwise.

    I don’t see Barkov and Bujgstad going anywhere anytime soon, so I have no understanding as to why Kadri’s name is circulating, other than Talon could possibly be able to flip him for a more glaring need, like a winger.

    Granted, Kadri has played wing before, but was useless on it. Been much more productive as a centerman.

    As like any draft, whether projected to be weak or strong, the “shiny new toy(s)” get unprecedented attention among GM’s and media alike.

  13. Rick Akin

    June 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    There is so much banter about the Leafs wanting to move up in the draft, there is likely something to it . With so many teams likely to bid for that #1 pick, I doubt the Leaf management…very vanilla ordinarily, will ante up enough to do the deal. Ross, I think you point is reasonably well stated, but I think Phaneuf is better than a 4-5 D man on an average team . Mostly, since his arrival in Toronto, he has drawn the likes of Gunnarson as a partner , and at the same time, has had to face all the best players of other teams, every night. I know I wont get agreement here, but Gunnarson is the epitomy of average, when he is at his best. At his worst, he is a quivering mass of insecurity out there, handles the puck lile a medicine ball, and couldn’t knock over the third string centre on the Cdn. womens team . I am not a Phaneuf fan , nor am I a hater . For the record, if Florida wants high return for their #1 , they can keep it. At #8 , the Leafs, as someone stated, have the pick of several kids , and maybe one of them actually develops into a top six forward . My pick at #8 is either Ehlers , or if he is gone, I would take Fleury, who is the 2nd best defenceman in this draft.

  14. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    @jeff , no way most teams is he top 2, look at the jets who finished the same as the leafs, they wouldn’t swap trouba, bogo, enstrum, Stuart or buff (if you want to count him as a d ) for dion. So on a non playoff team like te jets he is a 5-6 d. If dion was being paid 4 mill or less he’d be a lot more attractive

  15. ChrisB

    June 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I’m not a fan of Toronto or Phaneuf, but I agree with with Jeff’s comment about Phaneuf.

    Also Jeff brings up a good point, which I never thought of. Tallon is more than likely trying to get a feel for the teams new management. And Vancouver seems to look like a much better match than Toronto at this point.

    I mentioned this awhile ago, but IMO, #5 is probably the farthest Tallon would want to fall. That would basically give him the pick of the litter of wingers in the draft. Now, seeing as NYI are pretty deadset at #5, Vancouver sits at 6, and depending how Linden/Benning want to go with the Canucks, I can see them being a player in this.

  16. Jeff

    June 5, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I think Islanders trade out of the 1st Round completely, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tallon does the same.

    How intriguing would #1 and #6 be for Vancouver/Trevor/Canucks fans?

  17. Jeff

    June 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Ross, I said Dion is an average to a (slighty) above average #2.

    If he was played as a #3, i think he is an Elite #3.

  18. Derail

    June 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Same old story to keep the fans interested that are slowly starting to stop watching the joke of the world for a sports franchise

  19. Derail

    June 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    How about
    Phaneuf and 1st (8th overall)
    A bag of bucks

    The Leafs will NEVER get rid of that bum captain and albatross of a contract

  20. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    No need to beat a dead horse, I just don’t see Dion as a top 3 d on any team. As for draft trades, I can see Tampa trading both there number ones to move up to the 6-10 range to get ehlers who was Drouins linemate.

  21. Bob

    June 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I love what Chris had to say, That is the most reasonable thing on this whole board. Also, I’m not a big Dion fan but when I go through all the defensemen in the league I see him somewhere between 20-24 which would make him in most cases a #1 or #2 D-man. If you gave him a solid partner I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved into the top 15-20. Either way, Leafs fans sure have a way of devaluing their players

  22. Mark Easson

    June 5, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    The hatred towards Dion kills me. I’m not really a fan of him, but he’s not nearly as bad as many make him out to be.

    Every mistake he makes gets showcased and analyzed.

    It doesn’t help that he’s over used and asked to do way too much with the Leafs. I think I read/heard someone saying he lead the Leafs Dmen in TOI at 5v5, SH and on the PP. Throw in the fact that he’s suppose to be the leader/captain in one of the toughest markets. He plays against the best players in all situations. He’s set up to fail.

    I think Friedman said the other day/week that he’s a top 30 Dman.

    I don’t think he’s a true No. 1, but he’s a default No. 1 on teams that do not have a good blueline. A No. 2 on most teams, a No. 3 on really deep teams.

  23. Chris

    June 5, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Most people don’t actually watch hockey games objectively though. If Dion Phaneuf did the same toe drag turnover that Doughty did last night every Dion hater would be using it as evidence that he’s clearly a terrible defenseman….same with Dan Girardi’s turnover or Muzzin’s stumble or the own goal….whenever Dion makes a mistake it’s analyzed to the point of ridiculousness that simply doesn’t happen in other markets. For every Dion act of stupidity I could find an equal example on You Tube of the best of the best. The guy saying that Phaneuf would be a 5/6 on the Jets is laughable. Phaneuf had more points than every full time Jets D man last year (Byfuglien plays forward too so I didn’t count him) and doesn’t play ‘safe’ minutes like Trouba. Some of you vastly underestimate the difficulty between playing in the top pair vs playing in the 2nd pair. If Phaneuf was playing a #3 role on a team like Chicago or Minnesota with PP time, his numbers would vastly improve.

    Fortunately for the Leafs, real NHL GMs aren’t as stupid as armchair GMs. They actually watch these guys play and don’t base their opinions on what teams they are fans of or what some journalist or blogger writes.

    The dismissal of Kadri also kills me. Like if the rumour was that Philly were gonna include Brayden Schenn in a deal with Florida it would somehow have more weight because Schenn plays for Philly. Kadri had more points than Schenn last year and has 26 MORE career points than Schenn in 15 LESS games.

    His 50 points as a 2nd/3rd line centre last year would have bested Florida’s top scorer (Bjugstad) by 12. At 23 he will only get better.

    Aaron Ekblad may or may not be a top 2 or top 4 NHL defenceman. Dion Phaneuf already IS.

    As people have stated on this board already, if Tallon or Florida fans are expecting some sort of blockbuster for this pick, you’ll probably be disappointed as I don’t think anybody is going to give up multiple major pieces for a pick that is not projected to top out at the same level as other drafts. This isn’t a Crosby, Toews, McKinnon type year. This is more of a Yakupov year.

  24. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I wish I was a GM against some of you! let me make this comparable again… Dion Phaneof versus Mark Stuart. Dion has 20 more points per season ( Stuart get zero power play where Dion does), roughly, I repeat roughly same blocked shots, same plus minus, not far off in ice time, Stuart fights more, Stuart a way better leader and dressing room guy. Stuart ( a 4-6 D-man) salary = 2.65 million, Dion ( considered by some here, NOT ME!! a 2-3 D-Man) salary = 7 million. With all considered which one do you want? the answer is very easy!!! This is why the amount of teams interested in Dion is very few and far between. So please take a realistic look around the NHL, there are a ton of D playing at the same level or higher making significantly less than Dion so calling him a 2-3 defenceman on most teams is a joke!!!!!!

  25. Brandon

    June 5, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Ross – Dion Phaneuf would be the best d-man on the Jets aside from MAYBE and this is a huge maybe: Tobias Enstrom. He’s in a class above Mark Stuart and the fact that you even named Bogosian is laughable. Jacob Trouba is not at that level yet although he has the potential to be better. Big Buff would not last a second in Phaneuf’s position, he doesn’t have the cardio to play that much and still be even somewhat effective. I like Enstrom’s game, and I would consider Phaneuf and Enstrom at roughly the same skill level.

  26. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    @ chris….seriously?? are you not well?? Buff played 3/4 of the year at D and had 25 more points than Dion, Trouba played 15 less games and only had 2 less points. Dion would absolutely be in the third pairing on the Jets! and no higher than the 2nd pairing on any other team in the NHL but no one would want him at 7 million dollars/year because that amount for him is ludicrous!!

  27. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    @ brandon…..not a single GM would take Dion over Bogo or Trouba, you must realize that. I’d take Stuart and 2.65 mil over Dion and 7 mil everyday. And Buff played more minutes on D than Dion so check your stats!!

  28. Ross

    June 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    The Leafs traded Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White to get Dion Please!! Please name another player in the NHL making 7 million that I can trade a bunch of bums like that list for!!!!! Maybe the Flyers would give you Pronger today for 4 or 5 3rd and 4th liners

  29. PK

    June 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    If the leafs fired Carlyle there would be much more flexibility when it comes to roster changes. We all know that younger players wont succeed with Carlyle as coach, who prefers to play his energy players over developing potential game-changers in Kadri who has great potential, but I don’t see him succeeding with Carlyle as coach.

  30. Chris

    June 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Until those guys play the same kind of minutes that Phaneuf does the comparisons are specious at best. Playing 25-30 minutes per night vs the other team’s top lines for 82 Games is different than 18 minutes in a bottom four role. Until you understand that concept there is really nothing more to discuss.

  31. bmac

    June 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    If the leafs really are thinking of moving up in the draft they should look at moving out lupul, the 8th pick, carter verhaeghe and maybe a 3rd round pick for the 1st pick, then should try and move phaneuf and kadri to the oilers for the 3rd pick and sam gagner(since he seems to be on the outs there and has a bigger contract than kadri), then the leafs should pick ekblad and draisaitl(or bennett).

  32. CaseyW

    June 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Enough of every leaf fan saying “there asking Dion for to much”…Dions cap hit is around 7 million… I mean cmon thats Shea Weber/Zdeno Chara/Ryan Suter type money. Personally I dont believe there asking him to do enough. I see him as a 3-4 defensemen… at best. Sorry leaf fans.

  33. DSCeee

    June 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Be fair. The Leafs decisions on draft day and beyond have been poor, often taking size and coachability over skill and hockey sense. Is that Morrison’s fault? He’s partly to blame, but often Leaf GM’s set the tone of who to draft, which is why the Leafs draft guys who have no hope of playing top 6 in the NHL, they never could and nobody saw them that way. They got depth players, they hoped.

    Will Nonis trade up? Since when has he ever? Will he add a first round pick? Again, that’s not his history. Morrison and his staff picking guys who can play top 6? Again, not likely, look back at the draft since 2006 and you see Kadri (an odd Burke call) and Rielly (who many saw as one scout pushing hard for).

    And Phaneuf? Any fan knows that if he plays under 24 minutes he’s solid, over he loses out, wears out mentally. Look at his last 20, he sank like a stone. But on a team where he’s playing 24- a night in the top 2 and he’s fine. Should the Leafs even out time with Rielly, Gardiner, Phaneuf, and Gunnarsson? Sure, of course, play a top 4 about 23 minutes each, spread it around, keep Phaneuf mentally sharp. Trade him and that’s what other teams will do.

    Me? I’d trade up, and keep the #8. Way too many guys who refuse to backcheck, play 200′. Can’t win that way. How many games did the Leafs look hungrier, more determined than the opposition? 2, 3? That’s embarrassing.

    Without a strong commitment to the draft in 2014-16 there will be no Cup by 2020.

  34. Mark Easson

    June 5, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    QoC TOI% 5 on 5 for Phaneuf is the highest for defenseman (30.1%) and 2nd highest behind only Toews (30.3%).


    Carl Gunnarsson is surprisingly second for dmen

    Remaining top 10:
    3. Chara
    4. Hjalmarsson
    5. Ekman-Larsson
    6. Oduya
    7. Weber
    8. McDonagh
    9. Giordano
    10. Kronwall