Optimus Reim is no more. Well more fittingly he’s ditched his Blue and White paint scheme for Teal and Silver. Lou Lamoriello jumped the gun on deadline day with a series of moves the preceding week; including a surprise Winnik deal just hours before February 29th officially began. As it stands, The Maple Leafs have come out of the deadline with a clear direction. Youth, and lots of it. For much of the day the biggest news out of the NHL was the mass call up of: William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Carrick, and Zach Hyman. Even better when you consider that missing from this impressive list of prospects is Mitch Marner, Connor Brown, Brendan Leipsic, whoever we draft in 2016, and a slew of other non-First round prospects that look to be strong bets to make the big leagues.
Now before we get into the trades themselves, I’d like to take a moment to talk about James Reimer. James was a heart and soul kind of guy. He never blamed his teammates for his mistakes, and always had a positive outlook on the team. He dealt with far too much negativity from the fan base and the media, even having his wife threatened on twitter over his play (after getting hit in the head. Go Toronto!). And yet he said, even this season, that he wanted to be a Leaf for the rest of his career. This man dragged a sub-par team kicking and screaming into the playoffs, and then again into game 7 in a series I was sure we’d be swept in, and his reward was a new goalie being traded for instead of his defensive core being strengthened. Optimus Reim will be missed in Toronto, and I personally wish him all the best.
Now onto trades! First off, on the 21st, the Leafs sent Shawn Matthias to Colorado for Colin Smith and a 4th round pick this season. Smith is a 22 year old Right handed center with 38 points in the AHL this Season to tie his first AHL season in 19 less games. The Leafs definitely won this trade in my opinion. The next day, the Leafs sent Roman Polak and Nick Spaling to the Sharks in part one of two for 2nd rounders in 2017 and 2018, and Raffi Torres who was promptly told to stay away from the Marlies AND the Leafs.
On February 27th, Sharks trade part 2 of 2 occurred, with the aforementioned James Reimer and Jeremy Morin headed over for Alex Stalock (Marlies), Ben Smith (Spotfill Leaf) and a conditional 4th in 2018, which becomes a 3rd in the Same year if San Jose makes the finals (HAHA, not with the Blackhawks in the West… sigh). Now I’m not sure if you could tell from the above, but Reimer was my favorite player on the team. If you look at both trades with San Jose together, it looks like this: Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer and Jeremy Morin for a 2nd rounder in 2017, a 2nd rounder 2018, That Conditional 4th, Raffi Torres Alex Stalock and Ben Smith. That overall return looks good, but that’s the only way you can look at the Reimer trade as a success. Lou’s first iffy trade, but they happen (but muh Reims D:).
And last but not least in Uncle Lou’s bag of tricks was the Daniel Winnik trade 2.0. The Leafs sent Mr. Winnik and a 5th round pick to the Washington Capitals (Washington vs Chicago NHL finals, calling it now) for Brooks Laich (Cap dum…LOCKER ROOM PRESSENCE!) Connor Carrick – 21 year old Right Handed(!!!) Defenseman with offensive upside – and a 2016 2nd round pick. Wow, awesome trade. If Winnik can return to last year’s form, this trade becomes closer to even, but if not, the Leafs win hard on this one. That’s 2 years in a row that we’ve picked up a 2nd round pick for Daniel Winnik, and everyone was surprised, including Winnik himself. Carrick played his first game in a Leafs uniform the same night and looked pretty good beside Martin Maricin, which is a feat in and of itself.
After the deadline passed, Lamoriello’s press conference was interesting to say the least. He announced that there was no real interest in PA Parenteau, which by default means there was definitely no interest in Brad Boyes or Micheal Grabner. Lou also told the media that Jared Cowen would be getting benched for the rest of year to make sure he wouldn’t be “injured” in time to foil a buyout. We’ll see what the NHLPA has to say, but they can’t exactly say that the Leafs HAVE to play him, as he hasn’t done much to justify a spot over any of the Leafs young guns. And after that it was just general question and answer time with not much in the way of groundbreaking information.
In the end, the Leafs had an A- deadline. Failing to get value for Parenteau was disappointing, but you can’t make the fish bite the hook, you can only try to make it look as appetizing as possible. Beyond that the Leafs did a very good job maximizing their assets and making room for the youngsters to have a shot that many of them have proven they deserved.