Around the NHL: A Missed Opportunity for the Kraken

Another expansion draft has come and went, and much like the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, a lot of fans left it underwhelmed, especially with the really good players left unprotected by other teams.
That said, there’s a big difference between the underwhelming picks by Vegas, and the underwhelming picks by Seattle. With Vegas, a lot of fans failed to consider how some players would excel in new roles. William Karlsson was an anomaly, but even Reilly Smith, Nate Schmidt, and Colin Miller excelled in larger roles when they were analytics darlings in lesser roles on worse teams. That’s not to say Seattle didn’t do that either (more on that in a bit), but there’s a bit less upside to their picks.
Also, Vegas’ expansion draft didn’t get quite have the impact on the team that you might think still. Of their 30 selections in 2017, only six players remain on the team, and two of them (William Carrier and Tomas Nosek) are bottom six forwards. Vegas made a bigger impact in the expansion draft through side deals and expanding their draft capital, creating the contender they are today.
Granted, Seattle clearly has an identity they’re …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Leafs preseason starts September 25th

It’s the day before the NHL schedule comes out, there’s an expansion draft going on, and you are probably more interested in the entry draft, free agency, and whatever trades Kyle Dubas might have up his sleeve. Still, a preseason schedule is still news, so here we are joyfully dumping it on our website for you to reference.

Preseason dates are set #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 21, 2021

Following a year that saw the Leafs only play against Canadian teams, I can’t think of anything I’m less enthused about than seeing that continue, but I assume there’s some recognition of the ease of limiting border crossings when possible, and that’s what drove this situation.
It also gives us a time frame for when we’ll start watching actual hockey again, which is nice and I can’t wait to read way too much into how the Leafs will do from these games.
The regular season will be released tomorrow, and we’ll take a much more meaningful look at that. I promise.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A Kraken mock draft and how it could affect the Leafs

Expansion drafts are incredibly fun. Until the player you didn’t want to get selected gets taken, then it goes sideways fast. Still it makes for an interesting day around the NHL and we should enjoy the fallout throughout the draft weekend, and you won’t hear me complaining about that either.
Unfortunately, the last time I checked we aren’t a Seattle Kraken site, and while we could just go ahead with it anyway, I feel each selection needs a bit of a how does it affect the Leafs angle to it. So strap yourselves in for a long read, be prepared to critique my final version mock expansion draft.
From the Anaheim Ducks: Hayden Fleury
The majority of the Ducks players worth protecting have been protected and they really have nothing left but low cost bottom pairing D or replacement level forwards available. While there are younger defensemen with more upside available, Fleury is a bit more ready to play now, while still having some upside as a 25 year old. The fact that he lines up on both sides of the ice is a plus, and only has one year left with a $1.3M cap hit.
It wouldn’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The three likely Maple Leaf candidates and their case to be taken by the Seattle Kraken

Sunday morning, the expansion draft protection lists of all the NHL teams, minus the Golden Knights, were released for everyone to see who their favourite team protected and exposed in this year’s 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft. By now, we know the Toronto Maple Leafs went the 4-4-1 route protecting four forwards, four defensemen and one goalie. The only other route they could’ve gone was 7-3-1, and that’s what a lot of fans were thinking they were going to do after the acquisition of Jared McCann, Saturday afternoon.
With the news coming out that the Maple Leafs only protected four forwards and protected an extra defenseman, fans immediately went to Twitter to question the move here by Kyle Dubas and staff, and to be honest, I don’t blame them because it doesn’t make sense to expose a player you just traded for not even 24 hours prior. However, there were numerous reasons by multiple people on Twitter that made sense as to why Dubas exposed both McCann and Kerfoot.
 
Toronto’s protection list
If you haven’t already seen the protection list, here are all the players the Toronto Maple Leafs protected and all the …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Leafs unlikely to bring back many of their remaining free agents

With the expansion draft roster freeze in effect for a couple of days, it’s time to take a step back and look at what the Leafs have remaining when it comes to free agency. There isn’t any shortage of either unrestricted free agents on the Leafs, and additionally there’s a handful of restricted free agents from the Marlies to consider as well. To figure out what should become of the free agents, I polled the TLN contributors to see who is staying, who’s going, and how much they are going to cost.

So there’s not a lot of love for bringing back the Leafs UFAs. I’m sure Zach Hyman would have received a bit more love, but the rumoured term and cap hits that are circulating certainly makes it understandable why 7 of our contributors had no interest in bringing him back and the other three were only considering Hyman if there is still the possibility of a hometown discount.
Alex Galchenyuk is far and away the favourite because of the price tag, upside, and his desire to continue growing as a Leaf. As one of the people who said let him walk, I’m …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Less than a week until we know which Leaf will be Kraken Seattle’s roster

We are now in the thick of expansion draft season. The Suter and Parise buyouts are a clear sign that things are getting real and that the Kraken have no interest in making it easy on the NHL when it comes to the players they intend to select.
The deadline for requesting players with no movement clauses has passed and by Friday those players will have to identify if they will waive or not (giving the teams a chance to complete their buyouts).
Saturday marks the roster freeze for the NHL as well. Given that the Kraken are being difficult, it’s entirely possible more teams turn to each other in order to manage their assets. By Saturday that opportunity will be gone, and by Sunday we’ll know who is available around the league before the Wednesday announcement of the initial Kraken roster.
The Leafs have some options on how they’ll approach their expansion draft decisions. The writers of TLN have weighed in on what the Leafs will do as far as protecting players:
Jori Negin-Shecter
The Maple Leafs don’t really have five forwards that are really worth protecting in my view, especially if they don’t …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Trade Bait Debate: “Should The Leafs Be Interested?” Edition

The NHL offseason is about to hit turbo mode with the expansion draft, entry draft, and unrestricted free agency all set to occur before the end of July. For the Maple Leafs, after yet another disappointing and premature playoff exit, change is on the horizon. Not only do the Leafs have a couple of long-term Leafs in Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen set to hit free agency on July 28th, but team management have to decide whether this team’s core as it is presently constructed is worth another roll of the dice, or if a bold shake-up has to occur.
Fan dissatisfaction is at an all-time high in the Auston Matthews Era, and just tinkering around the edges may not be well received by large factions of fans. The Leafs have around $9.4M to play around with this offseason according to PuckPedia, notwithstanding the loss of Alexander Kerfoot (+$3.5M), Justin Holl ($2.0M), Travis Dermott ($1.5M), or Other Player (~$0.8M) to Seattle in the expansion draft. There’s cap space here to work with, and the Leafs could use an injection of new blood to hopefully counteract the stench left behind by their disastrous collapse to Montreal in this year’ …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

What does a successful July look like for Kyle Dubas?

We all know the run down. Buyouts. The Expansion Draft. The Entry Draft. Free Agency. All of that sprinkled with constant trade speculation and the need to add an Assistant Coach to the Leafs bench. Sure, the trades and coach hiring doesn’t need to happen in July, and Kyle Dubas has already got the ball rolling (slowly) with the re-signing of Travis Dermott, but in what looks like the make or break summer for Kyle Dubas, what would success look like in the busiest three weeks of the GM year?
Here’s what our panel of Learned Elders readily available Leafs writers had to say…
Jori Negin-Shetcher:
It’s going to be an extremely busy month for Kyle Dubas with all of the big events coming up on the hockey calendar for the rest of July, however, there’s a pretty clear path forward for Dubas to put together a positive month as GM. First and foremost, the Maple Leafs need to add some more draft picks for this year’s entry draft. The Maple Leafs only hold three picks at the moment, due in large part to a host of poorly executed trade deadline moves, which is not …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A post trade deadline look at how the Leafs are situated heading into the expansion draft

During the Vegas expansion, the Golden Knights did an excellent job of putting together a world class team that could compete immediate. The Leafs were absolutely no help to that cause, losing only Brendan Leipsic to Vegas, and not having to deal any picks or prospects to force the Knights into making that underwhelming selection.
The Leafs were aided by the fact that the key pieces in their roster at the time were all exempt from the expansion draft, and it was more of a challenge to find players worth protecting than it was a situation about worrying who the Leafs would lose. Still there were plenty of Leafs fans who say losing Leipsic as the worst possible outcome, and terrible asset management. This fanbase will never be 100% pleased.
This go around, the Leafs are in a slightly different situation. There are plenty of good young players who are still exempt from the expansion draft. The Leafs can still easily protect the majority of their core. And whomever is selected by the Kraken really only represents a minor inconvenience in how the Leafs will take shape for next season. Still it’s probably worth taking a look at how this …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Signs pointing to Engvall being the odd man out

In what could be a prequel to next summer’s Expansion Draft, it looks like Pierre Engvall is the odd man out…

Today’s @MapleLeafs practice lines and defensive pairings:
Nylander-Matthews-HymanMikheyev-Tavares-MarnerRobertson-Kerfoot-KapanenClifford-Gauthier-SpezzaEngvall
Muzzin-HollRielly-CeciDermott-BarrieSandin-Marincin#LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 29, 2020

Going into the exhibition game against Montreal it appeared that Engvall was to be the Leafs fourth line center, but today those responsibilities seem to have shifted back to Freddie Gauthier.
By the eye test last night, Gauthier did seem to be the better player. He was more noticeable at both ends of the night, while Engvall was solid, but seemingly less involved.
By the numbers…
Engvall didn’t register a shot on goal last night, while Gauthier registered one high danger scoring chance. Neither saw a ton of ice time for that matter either, with Engvall playing only 3:45 total, while Gauthier had 5:58 at 5v5. Both saw some time on the penalty kill as well. Of all the Leafs, Gauthier and Engvall had the two lowest ice time totals.
The on ice numbers favour Engvall, who was much more of a low event player. He was a 50% Corsi For% player based off of two events, and had 100% …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation