So the draft happened, and it looked odd for Toronto. Then the Leafs traded for some more future top 6 help. Then everything happened today. Really though what was that?
First at bat, the draft. So pick #1 went as expected, Auston Matthews is a Leaf. Yay! From there everything was derailed, and we saw a lot of off the board picks. Yegor Korshkov and Carl Grundstrom being our big follow up picks in round 2, along with Joseph Woll at goal in Round 3. Now as I’m getting to the draft a bit late, I’m not going to analyze our late round picks down to minutiae other than to say: older and bulkier. But the Leafs certainly stocked the cupboards at this draft in terms of depth. We have 1 guaranteed NHLer, a few players who can step into AHL and ECHL roles right away as overagers to replace players that will graduate to the NHL, and a few prospects who will have a bit of time to develop before graduating to pro hockey. Our 2nd round picks excite me however, as Grundstrom has played with both Nylander and Timashov in the past and is known as a right prick, and Korshkov was pointed out by the same scout who brought up Soshnikov. Watching highlights of Yegor especially, if he even gets to even 205 lbs. and maintains the same level of stick handling he’s been seen as capable of, we may have our replacement for JVR in a few years.
Next up we have the Leafs second trade in relation to the draft, coming on day 2. Scott Harrington to Columbus for Kerby Rychel. For the life of me I cannot find any clips of him in the AHL, but his OHL highlight reel was impressive to say the least. He has a sneaky release, and has good ability to use his hands in tight to the net to ensure he gets a shot off. If his lower point totals in the AHL playoffs are a motivational issue, one can hope a change of scenery will do him well. As for Harrington, while he made the team out of camp, he became injured often and subsequently was passed on the depth chart within the organization. With Travis Dermott and Andrew Nielsen coming up in the system, there wasn’t really room for him in the blueprint.
Now finally we come to today. June 29th. The day Montreal and Edmonton exploded. I work at night, so I woke up about 10 minutes after the Montreal trade and spent about 3 hours playing catch up on a 30-45 minute period. I bear the responsibility of informing you however, that Rick Nas… no wait, Eric Staa… no that’s not right either… Stamkos? Yup that’s it, Steven Stamkos isn’t coming to Toronto. I don’t honestly know why anyone is surprised. Toronto is used as a bargaining chip to get what you want from other teams 99% of the time. You have clips of players saying it’s their dream to play for the Leafs, but the problem is, they also don’t want to be responsible for it failing. And why is that? Because they’ve seen what the media does to players here. They’ve seen friends and family turn on stars. For readers of my age group, the headline “Curtis Jo-Sieve” may stand out from your childhood. This same media vilified Mats Sundin for refusing to give up hope in his team and accept a trade. This same media called James Reimer’s mother because the Leafs wouldn’t tell them whether he had a concussion or not. Say what you will about whether NHLers are paid to deal with the media, that’s your opinion. But players are still people, and no one in their right mind is going to move from the Florida sun and sand, and relative anonymity to the general public, to having “reporters” that admit to considering stalking you for a picture of what you eat to justify their hit piece.
Besides that, Subban for Weber, scary in the short term, laughable in the long term. This is actually a deal that can screw over both Nashville and Montreal. Weber has 4 or so more good years in him before hitting his decline years, after which they have 0 top tier defensemen ready to take over. Whereas Nashville has to worry about Weber retiring and stacking his cap hit on top of PK Subban’s. In the short term though, Weber has a very scary shot, but at least our #1 goalie is already used to facing it. And then Edmonton has traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. Why? Remember the Taylor vs. Tyler debate during Seguin and Hall’s draft year? Well I guess Chiarelli misheard it as Taylor AND Tyler. He has actually traded BOTH the 1st and 2nd picked players in the 2010 draft for underwhelming returns. Adam Larsson will be a decent defenseman, don’t get me wrong. But Taylor Hall is one of the premier scoring left wingers in the NHL. He’s almost a point a game player, and he’s played his career with the OILERS! You’d figure Pistol Pete would have learned his lesson, but I guess not.
Now, free agency is coming up, and the Leafs no longer have Steven Stamkos to worry about offering a contract to, so what next? I personally think the Leafs target a defenseman like Kris Russel or Jason Demers. While Matt Hunwick was a good soldier for the Leafs last season, I feel they might want an upgrade there. Alternately, they could offer a contract to Luke Schenn. He would be able to play his game (read: hit things) with a fast defenseman like Jake Gardiner, and he could be a steadying presence for a rover like Connor Carrick. But obviously that is all speculation, and nothing more.
It’s getting exciting!