Sports: Trade chatter should dominate Maple Leafs’ draft weekend - PressFrom - Canada
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SportsTrade chatter should dominate Maple Leafs’ draft weekend

20:41  18 june  2019
20:41  18 june  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Leafs could find it tough to make playoffs next year

Leafs could find it tough to make playoffs next year Is there a scenario in which the Maple Leafs don’t make the playoffs next season? There certainly is. As GM Kyle Dubas descends on Vancouver for the draft, the Leafs focus is on Mitch Marner and what kind of contract offer the right winger will get. And while the draft sets the course for the future of so many teams, it’s July 1 that matters the most: Free agency. This is the time of year to dream about next year, when the “What ifs” rule. And the rumblings around the league is that of big movement, lots of change of address cards.

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Trade chatter should dominate Maple Leafs’ draft weekend© Provided by Rogers Media Inc leafs-marleau-marner

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Watching their roommate Raptors quench the city’s 26-year major championship drought (we see you, TFC) — and choke the parade route with so many happy people that the double-decker buses carrying the sports heroes needed three extra hours to trudge through all the love — must’ve sparked the notion of what might be if the hockey team were to make the type of bold moves that pushed MLSE’s basketball side over the top.

Leafs’ Kyle Dubas prepared to keep Patrick Marleau, and deal with offer sheets on his free agents

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So close yet so far (three consecutive Round 1 exits) away from their ultimate goal, this weekend’s NHL Draft marks the first one of the Dubas-Babcock Maple Leafs that must be more about the present than the future.

For the first June since 2010, the Maple Leafs do not have a selection in the first round, a fair casualty of the January trade for defenceman Jake Muzzin.

But that doesn’t mean Dubas will be sitting on his hands Friday night in Vancouver.

The 33-year-old exec is busy puzzling one of the league’s most complicated salary-cap crunches, exploring his limited trade scenarios for Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev while trying to lock up superstar Mitch Marner and beef up a thinning blue line via free agency and/or hockey deals.

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On the heels of re-signing Erik Karlsson Monday and making Toronto’s Jake Gardiner the best impending UFA defenceman, the Sharks’ Doug Wilson dropped this nugget on his conference call: “There’s been more conversation and communication between GMs in the last month than maybe ever since I’ve been a GM.”

Dubas must be involved in much of this chatter, while preparing his employees to uncover gold deep in Saturday’s edition of the draft.

Unless he trades up — and he certainly has the candidates to do so — Dubas won’t pick until 53rd overall.

The prospects prognosticators have slotted in that range feature plenty of defencemen (Daniil Misyul, Antti Tuomisto, Artemi Kniazev, Mattias Norlinder) and a few intriguing forwards (Samuel Fagemo, Robert Mastrosimone, John Farinacci).

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The Leafs’ recent second-round bull’s eyes include a couple 2015 picks that now look like NHLers, Travis Dermott (34th overall) and Jeremy Bracco (61st).

Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen go deep on pucks with a mix of facts and fun, leaning on a varied group of hockey voices to give their take on the country’s most beloved game.

Dubas is counting on his advisors to uncover a couple gems deep, with a pick in the third, two in the fourth (St. Louis), the fifth, and two in the seventh round (Dallas).

“Our scouting staff is going to become even more important than our development staff,” Dubas said. “These are all important drafts for us, and for a long time.

“I’ve often said to our scouts this year that the drafting part when we were picking at 1, 4, 8, in those are the picks, those are the picks you have to [get right]. There’s no room for error there.

“But the way we can sustain this and keep this moving forward is by when we don’t have a first and we’re picking in the second or picking late in the first, is to make hay.”

Maple Leafs trade Patrick Marleau to Carolina

Maple Leafs trade Patrick Marleau to Carolina Maple Leafs trade Patrick Marleau to Carolina

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Trades . Injuries. Tag: Toronto Maple Leafs . NHL RFAs Most Likely To Receive Offer Sheets This Summer. Toronto Maple Leafs Handcuffed by John Tavares’ Contract. Lyle Richardson

The haymaking of the Maple Leafs’ 2019 draft class will require patience and years in the pipeline. The headline-making at Rogers Arena, however, could arrive swift and loud.

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Top-four defenders Gardiner and Ron Hainsey can start interviewing with competing clubs Sunday. RFAs Marner, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are permitted to field offer-sheet overtures as early as next Wednesday.

“Without an answer on Mitch, we’re going to be in a stalemate. It is a top priority because we’re not going to jump around and chew up our cap space we are going to need for Mitch or with fringe signings either. It’s important. We just have to get right on it and get it done,” Dubas said.

That was eight weeks ago.

Deadlines spur action. So do face-to-face meetings, and all of Dubas’s 30 potential trade partners are only a short walk and a handshake away.

The process of shaping a 2019-20 Maple Leafs roster that can defend and contend must take a significant step forward on this weekend’s draft floor.

No pressure.

Maple Leafs sign Kapanen, Johnsson to extensions.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson to three- and four-year contract extensions, respectively, the team announced Friday. The deals were reportedly close to complete during the draft. Kapanen's contract carries an average annual value of $3.2 million while Johnsson will earn $3.4 million per season. Both players were key contributors to the Maple Leafs' offense during their first full seasons in 2018-19, as Kapanen finished the campaign with 44 points in 78 games and Johnsson notched 43 in 73. Mitch Marner is now the team's only restricted free agent.

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