Ray Ferarro lays out a case in favour of the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring Sami Vatanen, the hockey insiders weigh up the Vatanen sweepstakes, Friedman discusses possible trade scenarios in the top five of the draft, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

McKenzie: Leafs not the only team interested in Vatanen (TSN1050)
Overdrive host Bryan Hayes and co-hosts Jeff O’Neill & Jamie McLennan are joined by TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie and they discuss how interested the Leafs actually are in Sami Vatanen.

I could see why the Toronto Maple Leafs would have interest in him. Fits the profile in terms of age and experience and skill level and the attributes that he’s got as an offensive-minded, skating, puck-moving guy with power play ability. I think it makes sense.

Pierre tells me there are a lot of teams in inquiring with Anaheim and the Leafs are by no means necessarily at the front of the line or are the only team. There will be stiff competition for him and the price will probably be high. We’ll see where it goes from here.

On whether Vatanen is a fit with the Leafs‘ other top four defencemen (Rielly, Gardiner, Zaitsev):

If you can find a bigger, still-mobile, still-offensively-gifted [defenceman] who can also defend… I think Babcock is adaptable. I think the new-age approach, as you called it, would be fine by him.

[At the same time] you saw where Babcock had a lot of use for a guy like Roman Polak. That frustrates some people that think the game should be entirely played by racehorses who can all skate and be a threat to skate the puck up the ice; mobile puck handlers. Babcock also does like to have someone who is a defender who has some size to him. You often hear him talk about what he likes best about some guys, and he’ll say, “he’s 6’4 at the beginning of the night and 6’4 at the end of the night.” He kind of likes that.

Given the option in terms of your top four, of course you want a Drew Doughty, but he’s not available. If he’s not available, then you start to look at the Sami Vatanens or other guys of his ilk.

Elliotte Friedman on Rinne, draft, Burke, and Subban-Crosby (Fan 590)
The HNIC broadcaster shares his thoughts regarding another poor performance in Pittsburgh from Pekka Rinne, how the Penguins managed to blow out the Predators, the likelihood that a top-5 pick will be moved at the draft, Brian Burke stating that the Flames could leave Calgary & asking for tax breaks for Canadian-based players, and the Subban-Crosby relationship.

I can see Dallas moving [third overall]. I do think that’s possible. I also wonder about New Jersey at #1. I think they would consider moving down as long as they don’t move down that far. I do think there’s a possibility they’ll consider that.

[New Jersey] is an organization that really needs defencemen and there are a couple of really good ones here, but I don’t know if they’ll take one number one.

Seravalli: If you need a top-4 defenceman, this is the year (TSN1050)
TSN senior hockey reporter Frank Seravalli joined Leafs Lunch to discuss the Penguins dominant victory in Game 5, if Sidney Crosby gets preferential treatment, and if the Maple Leafs are under any pressure to add a defenceman before a division rival does.

If you’re a GM in this league, I think the biggest mistake that everyone makes is that they overpay, whether it’s in free agency or at the deadline, and they get carried away thinking that they need that one piece or one that one specific player that is going to put them over the top. More often than not, it doesn’t pan out like that. I think if you’re the thing that thinks you’re going to get into a bidding war and jack up the price on your divisional rival, it’s not going to work. You have your price and that should be your price regardless. If you can pull the trigger and get a deal done, then you do it. If not, you find another way to get another player that works for your team. Let’s face it: If you need a top-four defencemen, this is really the year to go out and find one. There are plenty on the market — not because teams are dying to trade them, but because, in some situations, they have to.

Sami Vatanen is going to be moved; he’s the odd man out in Anaheim. One of those guys — I would think Brodin or Matt Dumba, or possibly both — could be on the move in Minnesota. When I talked to Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota six months ago, he’s saying, “if I have a chance of losing any one of these guys for nothing in Vegas, it’s not going to happen. I’m going to trade them before then. I don’t care if I have to trade every guy on my team before I need to lose a player for nothing because I’m going to get something in return.” The only issue is, when you’re Chuck Fletcher or any other team that is in the expansion draft, the flipside of making these deals is that you then have to protect also whatever you’re getting in return, short of it being picks or low-level prospects that don’t meet the requirements.

Dreger: Cost of acquiring Sami Vatanen may be too high (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider Darren Dreger joined Naylor & Landsberg in the Morning to discuss whether Pekka Rinne was to blame for the Preds Game 5 loss, Sidney Crosby putting the team on his shoulders, whether Sami Vatanen would be a fit with the Leafs, and what that asking price would be from Anaheim.

I know the Leafs are interested, but there is a difference between having interest… I’m sure Toronto is interested in a lot of defencemen out there. Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche is like a ‘dwinger’; half defence, half winger because he rushes the puck three times a shift, but man, can he do damage. Colorado is looking for a little bit of help and the sense is they’d have to move out Matt Duchene to get a defenceman back so that they could trade Tyson Barrie. There are other pieces that Toronto could also be interested in.

Specific to Vatanen, what is it going to cost to get that player? There is a history of trading between Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs; maybe not to this degree, but there is history there, so it does make some sense from Bob Murray’s perspective. He’s either going to want a key young piece off the Toronto Maple Leafs — and it’s not going to be any of the guys that you would expect — and I’d include van Riemsdyk in that category. And perhaps something else. Or, he’s going to want high picks and prospects. Let’s also be mindful of the fact that there will be a very strong market — there is a strong market for Sami Vatanen. Bob Murray can ask for whatever he wants and the Leafs might not want to pay it.

Ferraro: Vatanen would fit with Leafs young core (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey analyst Ray Ferraro joined OverDrive to discuss if the Leafs should pursue Sami Vatanen and how he’d fit in with the team.

He’s small — maybe 5’10-ish — right-handed, feisty, gets up in the play, can really shoot the puck. The challenge, of course, is defending bigger people in his own zone. That would be the knock on him. But he’s a good player. He competes. He fits into the age range of the Leafs’ young core. I think that’s important as they add, too. You want guys that are growing together. The fact that he’s under team control for the three years is very important as well. Now, you’ve got to wait for him [due to injury]. It’s going to be months before he’s ready to go, but I don’t think that’s really a problem in the big picture.

Look at Nashville — there is no bruiser there. Look at how they can move and skate. They move the puck. They provide a whole heck of a lot of offence. To get a big, stay-at-home, physical defenceman, you may as well go get a brontosaurus. Those guys can’t play. They can’t keep up. If you can’t move the puck and you can’t skate, then you can’t play. If you’re big, you better be able to get around the ice. Victor Hedman is a giant and he gets around the ice in about three strides. He’s an awesome player. But those guys are hard to come by.

If you can find guys that can move the puck and you can stomach that they might get beat by a bigger forward, then I think that, without question, is the way the league is looking. Now, you can teach a guy to defend and you can teach a guy to have better body positioning. Look at what they’ve done with Gardiner — a couple of years ago, the guy was a trainwreck in his own zone. You never knew what he was going to do. He’s grown in the last two years; how could you be dissatisfied with the year he had? It makes a lot of sense to me.

Leafs, Avalanche not on same page on Dubas’ availability: Report (Toronto Sun)
Sources in Colorado and Toronto have said little about the permission the Maple Leafs granted the Colorado Avalanche to speak to assistant general manager Kyle Dubas — which Toronto quickly revoked. A report on TSN’s Insider Trading on Wednesday suggested the window shut because the Leafs did not know Avs officials intended to offer Dubas a job, one with reported total control of hockey operations in Denver.

Islanders face decisions for expansion draft, free agency, NHL draft (Newsday)
The Islanders have two veteran players, Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk, who have no-move clauses and must either grant the team a one-time waiver to be left exposed or be on the protected list. Both have the sort of lengthy contracts and miles on them that would make Vegas GM George McPhee leery of picking either one, but asking a player to waive a no-move could create other headaches between management and player.

Henri Jokiharju – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
One of four Finnish defencemen who could be selected inside the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Henri Jokiharju possesses many of the qualities associated with the “modern defenceman” archetype. What the 17-year-old Oulu native lacks in size he makes up for with intelligence, skating and puck-moving ability, all of which helped Jokiharju adjust to the North American game in his first year with the Portland Winterhawks in 2016-17.