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Leafs Looking For Picks, Prospects For Free Agents

February 5, 2015, 2:58 PM ET [1217 Comments]
Mike Augello
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Toronto Maple Leafs collapse since mid-December has their management poised to pull the trigger on deals to move out pending unrestricted free agents, but the potential willingness to move out core players with term left on their deals and younger players who have not fulfilled their expectations before March 2nd or over the summer is a tacit admission that a full rebuild is coming.

Those close to the organization may choose to use different synonyms to describe what will happen in the next four to five months, but when you consider that by the time the NHL Draft rolls around in late June, Toronto will have moved one top pairing defenseman (Cody Franson), could move the other (team captain Dion Phaneuf), possibly their leading scorer of the last five seasons and their de facto top line center.

That doesn’t exactly sound like they are renovating the Leafs roster. That is more like gutting and rebuilding from close to scratch.

The firing of Randy Carlyle one month ago was done in part to determine whether the veteran coach was main cause of the team’s problems or whether the problems lie with the core group.

The 1-10-1 record under interim bench boss Peter Horachek has less to do with his qualities as a coach or the defensive system he is implementing and more to do with Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri not being able to adjust from a wide open offensive style.

The task is fairly clear for Team President Brendan Shanahan, GM Dave Nonis and the Leafs management staff. Get as many draft picks and young assets as possible in exchange for any players that can be moved prior to March 2nd and position the team to draft as high as possible in the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, FL.

The trading of free agents Mike Santorelli, Cody Franson and Daniel Winnik will help in that pursuit, because they have been among the better performers during the club’s six week slide and players like Troy Bodie, David Booth and Trevor Smith will be moved up into the lineup.

With the additions of former Ontario Hockey League GM’s Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas, Toronto will be focusing more on finding not only impact players in the first round, but hidden gems in the lower rounds.

The Leafs hope to convert their three rent-a-players into at least a trio of draft picks and young prospects. Darren Dreger reported on Thursday that it is within the realm of possibility that the Leafs could parlay interest in Franson into a low first round pick from a contending team, but the more likely return is a second rounder and a good prospect.

The team newest on the radar regarding interest Leafs players are the Predators and Ducks, who meet tonight in Nashville with Nonis in attendance.

The Preds are said to have interest in Mike Sanotrelli(who was drafted by Nashville in 2004), while ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun reported Wednesday that the versatile forward has drawn interest from the Vancouver Canucks


Toronto will not have team captain Dion Phaneuf for their next game against the New Jersey Devils. Phaneuf has been out since the All-Star break with a hand injury and did not travel with the club for Friday night’s game in Newark, where the Leafs suffered a 2-1 shootout loss on January 28.

Interim coach Peter Horachek indicated on Thursday that Phaneuf may be available to return when the Leafs play the Edmonton Oilers at Air Canada Center on Saturday.

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