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Between now and the NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. on June 26-27, the rumor mill will be hot and heavy with various scenarios involving the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sportsnet FAN 590’s Dean Blundell
reported on Tuesday that the Leafs have inquired into obtaining the Carolina Hurricanes first-round pick, so they could make back-to-back selections fourth and fifth overall in one of the best drafts in recent memory.
The deal would be contingent on Dylan Strome being selected by the Arizona Coyotes according to the report and would involve swapping the 24th overall pick obtained from Nashville in the Cody Franson/Mike Santorelli deal and a player from the Toronto roster over the age of 23, as well as taking back Alexander Semin and possibly another player like forward Jeff Skinner.
The FAN 590 morning show host reported accurately in April that it would cost over $6 Million per season to get Mike Babcock to take the Toronto head coaching position and this rumored deal came from the same source.
There are factors in this deal that would make it plausible and beneficial for both sides.
The Hurricanes are a budget team under owner Peter Karmanos and are in the midst of a reset with second-year GM Ron Francis, who is still attempting to clean up the cap mess left by Jim Rutherford.
The club has an aging Cam Ward making over $6 Million per season, four years left with Skinner at $5.725 Million and three years and $21 Million remaining on Semin’s five-year, $35 Million deal.
The 30-year-old Semin was a healthy scratch at times last season and scored just six goals in 57 games, in spite of playing the last month of the season with Eric and Jordan Staal and his contract is the club’s biggest financial albatross.
A buyout this summer would cost the Canes $14 Million and a cap hit over $2 Million spread over the next six years, so finding a team willing to take that burden off of their books would be worth a lot, especially with the elder Staal’s contract expiring at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Carolina could choose to take back Dion Phaneuf or Jake Gardiner to bolster their blueline(they were rumored to have interest in Phaneuf prior to last year’s draft)after dealing Tim Gleason, Andrej Sekera and Jay Harrison late in the season, veteran Tyler Bozak or restricted free agent Nazem Kadri to give them a solid #2 behind Staal and time for youngster Elias Lindholm to develop or add a top line winger in Kessel to give the NHL’s 27th ranked offense the sniper they thought they were getting when they signed Semin.
The Leafs have used the monetary might of MLSE on numerous occasions over the last six months under Team President Brendan Shanahan, including retaining and taking on salary to get picks in deals for Daniel Winnik and Korbinian Holzer, trading David Clarkson for the injured Nathan Horton(who will likely never play again) and making Babcock the highest paid coach in the league.
Toronto taking on Semin’s bad contract for three years or retaining a portion of his salary and flipping him for future assets is very possible when you consider that the club will be at or near the bottom of the league’s standings in the next few years.
It is doubtful that money and trading an asset currently on the roster would make the Leafs hesitate if they can get a potential 18-year-old impact player out of it.
Picking at #4 and #5 would likely mean getting both Noah Hanifin and Mitch Marner instead of having to choose one or the other at #4 and rolling the dice at #24.
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