James Mirtle of The Athletic recently took a look at how the Toronto Maple Leafs might answer their salary cap questions for next season (2021-22) and part of that discussion included taking a closer look at what the team might do when it comes to the NHL expansion draft. In other words, Mirtle hints the Leafs might try to work out a deal with the Seattle Kraken in an effort to better control the outcome of who gets selected.
Mirtle writes that it is practically inevitable that the Leafs will lose someone valuable during the expansion draft. He also notes that the Leafs are in pretty good shape, so if they do, it won’t be the end of the world. That said, there’s no reason for Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas not to try and swing a deal that will allow him to keep a player of his choosing.
Mirtle notes first that there’s a real debate behind closed doors about whether or not the Maple Leafs should go the route of protecting 7-3-1 (seven forwards, three defencemen and a goalie) or 4-4-1 (four forwards, four defencemen and a goalie) after signing T.J. Brodie in free agency. Second, Mirtle writes:
My guess is they lose Kerfoot, Holl or Dermott, although who knows what the roster looks like by the time the Kraken get cracking. The Leafs could also get creative and protect one of those players by offering Ron Francis another asset.
The Leafs Could Try to Get Creative
Mirtle’s suggestion that the Leafs talk to Francis about what it might take to control the selection process is an interesting one. Finding out what it would cost to keep the Kraken away from the player the Leafs are most feared to lose might have merit.
At the same time, the Leafs might want to chat with Francis and see what it would cost to ensure the newest team to join the NHL takes the Leafs most expensive unprotected player. If Francis did so, this would help the Leafs with their cap space issues while giving Seattle a player they have interest in.
Needless to say, there will be choices and opportunities for the Leafs (and other teams) to work with Seattle on controlling the outcome of the expansion draft, at least a little bit. It would make sense for Dubas to explore those ideas and see if the cost is marginal.
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