Photo: Associated Press

Elliotte Friedman suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs could have something big in store as they look to take advantage of the expansion draft situation and two years of cap flexibility, the Insiders discuss William Nylander’s next contract, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Elliotte Friedman: Don’t be surprised if Leafs make their own big move (Fan 590)
The NHL insider shared his thoughts regarding the surprising trade between Bolts & Habs, the impact the expansion draft is having on trade rumours, the massive attention Jonathan Drouin will be dealing with in Montreal, the importance of early success for Las Vegas, possible moves by the Leafs, and Drew Doughty’s comments about Southern Ontario players playing for Toronto.

The one thing that Toronto has that is a real advantage to them is they don’t have any issues with the expansion draft. If you look at Minnesota, they’re definitely tight still. Anaheim has to do some things to protect itself. One of the reasons Tampa made that deal yesterday with Drouin to Montreal and not to Minnesota — who was a team that I think was really chasing Drouin — is because Sergachev doesn’t hurt them in an expansion way. So, Toronto isn’t hurt by that; I think it gives them flexibility.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are tight. They do a very good job of keeping information tight under Lamoriello. My guess is what we’re looking at here is we’re looking at the Leafs recognizing they’ve got a two-year window to do something big before they really have to start paying everybody. Nylander has got the one more year under contract. Marner and Matthews have got two. I think they look at those three guys, and I think Nylander has shown that he is going to be a heck of a player, too, along with the other two guys. They have a two-year window to really go for it. I think they’re sitting there and thinking, “what allows us to be the best team we can be for the next two years and make a charge at this?” It would not surprise me if they pull out something big that has us going, “Okay, not sure we really saw that [coming], but I’m not surprised it happened.”

On Drew Doughty’s comments about the appeal of playing in the Toronto market:

I think every player who plays in Toronto goes through a phase where they are tired of it. But the thing is, the one thing I really believe is that the world is changing. There is still a lot of media. There is a lot of wish to consume information, but there is not as many people in the media as there used to be. When Toronto made the playoffs in 2013 against Boston, I remember going to the game day skates and you couldn’t talk to anybody in that room. This year against Washington, you could. I don’t think that’s because there is less interest. I think that’s because there are fewer people in the media.

The other thing that changes a lot now, too, is where all the noise comes from. It doesn’t come from the traditional media. It comes from social media. That will find you, no matter where you are. That will find you, no matter where you are. I think we will see a change. I think people are going to realize that, no matter where you are, the noise is going to find you, if you allow it to. I think we’ll see a generation of players that will say, “You know what, I’m not sure it’s going to be too much different in Toronto than anywhere else.”

Dreger: Leafs trade assets will include JVR/Bozak, not Nylander (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider Darren Dreger joined Naylor & Landsberg to discuss the Canadiens acquiring Jonathan Drouin from the Lightning and if the Maple Leafs will try to sign William Nylander long-term this summer.

[Something like 6×6] is my sense, too. I guess what I would wonder is if they established the market by signing Zaitsev to a seven-year contract extension? The money would be less, of course, in the Zaitsev case, but I’m talking about the term here. They recognize that Nikita Zaitsev is part of the core going forward. Well, William Nylander has to be in that core.

I can tell you that, in the time I spent with Mike Babcock in Paris, the players he talked about were pretty obvious — of course Auston Matthews, of course Mitch Marner, but he brought up William Nylander and how well he thought he played, how far he thought his development curve spiked. That doesn’t sound like a player that the Toronto Maple Leafs are willing to dick around with in terms of trying to bridge or a shorter-term thing. They recognize the talent and the skill set of William Nylander and I’m sure they’ll do everything they can to get him into that five, six, seven-year term area.

If Toronto is going to acquire a defenceman — and they still feel they should add to their blue line — what is the piece? Who are the pieces they’re going to use? Even from an age perspective, and contractually, it’s going to be James van Riemsdyk or Tyler Bozak or pieces like that. We can stop — and should’ve stopped long ago — if we’re talking about William Nylander and the younger guys.

Drew Doughty on T&S: I might want to test the waters (Tim and Sid)
Kings defenceman Drew Doughty joined Tim and Sid in-studio to discuss the Penguins winning back-to-back Cups, P.K. Subban & his contract status with his current team.

No [contract talks] yet because we’re technically not allowed to yet. I don’t know what’s going to happen. They might want to trade me in a year. You don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. If the opportunity was there to re-sign with the Kings, I would love to do that. At the same time, I might want to test the waters. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s two years away, and anything can happen.

McKenzie: Long-term less risky than a bridge contract for Nylander (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie joined Leafs Lunch to discuss the NHL voting on the cap today, potential defencemen on the move before the trade freeze tomorrow, and if a long-term deal or a bridge contract is better for William Nylander.

On the market for defencemen:

I feel like there is a real good chance Jonas Brodin could get dealt. There is a real good chance Vatanen is going to be dealt.

I don’t think Dumba is going to be dealt; I’m not saying there is no chance, but the thing that Dumba has going for him in Minnesota is that dollars are precious in Minnesota. I think trading Dumba and keeping Brodin might make sense from a hockey point of view, but from the salary cap side of it, trading Brodin — who makes close to $4 million — would make more sense than trading Dumba, who is still on a lower-level contract. Also, the return on Brodin would likely be higher. The theory is, if they trade Brodin, they’re going to get a fairly significant offensive player to help out up front.

I think Hamonic is more than likely going to be traded.

On whether the Leafs will protect Leivo, Leipsic or Rychel with their final spot:

I didn’t watch enough Marlies games this year to get a real feel for Rychel and Leipsic and where their games are at. Having said that, I believe the Leafs believe that all three of those names mentioned have the ability to be an NHL player. Which one might be the most productive? Which one might fit the most with the needs of the team? I’m not sure.

When I talked about the unsubstantiated rumours about Mark Pysyk in Florida, one of the unsubstantiated rumour names that I heard that might be going the other way was Kerby Rychel. Underline the word rumour; Kerby Rychel’s name was in a rumour I heard in a deal for Pysyk.

On William Nylander’s second contract:

If I were the Leafs — this is just personal opinion; no knowledge of what they may or may not do — I’d probably look to lock up him before his platform year. I wouldn’t do a bridge deal with him. I think he’s too good of a player who might shoot the lights out. If he is too good of a player in his platform year, then he goes from being one of those guys like Jeff Skinner, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Hall that signed six-year deals for six to being well justified in wanting to run by the standard 6×6 deal that a lot of potentially elite players get coming out of entry-level. In other words, if you’re not potentially elite but you actually are elite, then they’re going to owe you a lot more money. The metre is running the longer you wait.

Lou Lamoriello is also a GM that doesn’t scare easily and he’s not afraid of using the tools that are available to him in the CBA. One of those tools is a bridge contract, but it’s fraught with peril on a really good hockey player. You sign a guy to a two-year deal with an AAV of 4 or 4.5… or even what Tampa Bay is doing with Nikita Kucherov out of necessity on that three-year deal, that’s a guy who might be looking at $8-9 million depending on the numbers he puts up. Those are the perils of bridging and waiting when you’re dealing with a really good hockey player who is going to slap up some really big numbers.

McGuire: Canadiens won’t make playoffs without another move (TSN1050)
NHL on NBC’s Pierre McGurie joined Leafs Lunch to discuss Jonathan Drouin’s role with the Habs, if Montreal will make another move, and a possible William Nylander extension.

On the Drouin trade as a “PR” move and the Canadiens’ playoff prospects:

He’ll fit into the top six in Montreal. He wasn’t going to fit into the top six in Tampa. He’ll obviously be a point producer there. But this is a PR move as well. They got severely dented and damaged off of the Weber for Subban deal. It was a big problem in the city and it was a big problem with the fan base. It was a big problem with the revenue streams. This will dent that a little bit. He’s going to have to go in there and get points. He’s getting paid to be an elite producer in this league. He’s never gotten more than 55 points in a season. He’s never been a 30-goal scorer. This is going to be a very interesting little dynamic for the Canadiens because they don’t have the center-ice help to help him.

If this is the only thing they do, they’re not making the playoffs, I’ll tell you that right now. Tampa was a non-playoff team and they’re a ton better. Philadelphia was a non-playoff team and they’re fantastically improved. The Buffalo Sabrers, with new managent and new coaching, are going to see a huge surge. They were a non-playoff team. Montreal is going to be uptight. Right now, if that team comes back the way they are, they’re on the precipice of not playoffs the playoffs. You know Toronto is not taking a step back. You know Boston isn’t takng a step back. I would have to think the Florida Panthers are going to be better; they were a non-playoff team.

They’re going to be right on the verge. If they don’t make another move or a couple moves, they’re going to be in deep trouble.

They had two A-level prospects, or did. One was Noah Juulsen, and one was Mikhail Sergachev. Now they only have one. Compare that with the Philadelphia Flyers, who maybe have nine to eleven A-level prospects, or the Boston Bruins who have seven to ten. It’s not even close. Tampa Bay is much the same. [The Habs] are extremely prospect poor, and  they have a goalie who is their best player who needs a contract in a year. He can walk if he doesn’t like the direction they’re going in.

I think they’re swinging for the fences. They’re trying to make the brand as strong as possible, and also trying to do well with their fan base in terms of saying, “Look, we’re trying to win the Cup now, with Carey Price here.”

On Marc Bergevin’s suggestion there isn’t huge pressure on the Canadiens to “win now”:

I don’t agree with that at all. He’s trying to manage expectations, which — by the way — I completely understand. If you look at what Jason Botterill has done in Buffalo, it’s really smart. He’s trying to manage expectations with his fan base. Phil Housley, much the same thing. That’s how to approach it. That being said, interally, there is a mechanism from the Molson family and from ownership saying, “You’ve been here five years going on six now. We need to start building the brand here. People are starting to wonder, ‘what are we? What are we as a group’?” They need to start winning.

Here is the biggest thing: In the last two trades Montreal has made, they’ve lost eight years. They lost four years on the Subban deal and they lost four years on the Sergachev and Drouin deal. That’s a lot of years in this NHL. Where Montreal really made a mistake — and I understand it was early on in the Bergevin situation — was the PK Subban bridge contract. I said it the day it was signed: “This was a major mistake.” When you have an elite player in your organization, and you know he’s good and you want to keep him, you can’t do a bridge. You do a bridge and you’re asking for trouble because it’s salary cap purgatory. You’re doomed. That’s exactly what happened to them. It eventually end up costing them 10s of millions of dollars and a very, very good young player in their organization.

On William Nylander’s second contract:

Here’s the one thing I would say: They’ve got to identify — and I’m sure they will; this is not being run by a bunch of neophytes in Toronto, these are smart people — who your seven core players are, and then you build your brand around your seven core players. If you don’t think you can digest those seven core players, then you adjust. Lou Lamoriello has got amazing, long-term vision. That’s one of his strengths as a managerial person. They’ll figure that part out. I don’t worry too much about Toronto.

NHL Expansion Draft FAQ: Key dates and rules (Sportsnet)
Saturday, June 17: 3:00 p.m. ET marks the beginning of a trade and waiver freeze that won’t be lifted until Thursday, the morning after Vegas’ picks are unveiled. Starting at this time, the 30 existing NHL teams will also not be allowed to sign or re-sign any players. The only exception here is the Golden Knights themselves, who can make trades with other teams, and begin negotiating with unprotected RFAs and UFAs on Sunday morning. 5:00 p.m. ET marks the deadline for teams to submit their expansion draft protections lists to the league office.

NHL Buyout Roundup: Ducks drop Simon Despres (Puck Daddy)
The Anaheim Ducks have waived defenseman Simon Despres for the purposes of a buyout, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports. Despres was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Ben Lovejoy at the 2014-15 trade deadline. He earned a five-year, $18-million contract from Anaheim for his showing down the stretch and into the postseason that spring, but has been limited to 33 games in the two seasons since signing his lucrative deal (including just one this past season) due to persistent concussion issues.

Maple Leafs won’t get off easy in next expansion draft (Toronto Star)
In Seattle, it’s looking increasingly like an arena deal is in place to bring an NHL team to the city. The mayor, Ed Murray, recently went on local TV saying the funding is in place to renovate Key Arena, while identifying an ownership group — Los Angeles-based Oak View Arena Group. “I think the NHL is ready to move quicker than not …. I think we’ll hear something soon.” Oak View has strong ties to the NHL. It’s CEO is none other than former MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke.

Conor Timmins – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
Following what Greyhounds head coach Drew Bannister described as a highly productive summer of offseason training, Timmins broke out in a big way in his draft year. His production skyrocketed to 61 points in 67 games (fifth among OHL defencemen) and he finished as a plus-53 (tied for third among OHL defencemen) while elevating into the top matchup role consistently from November onward. More impressive still is the portion of his production that came at even strength: No defenceman in the entire CHL put up more even-strength points than Timmins’ 44 in 2016-17 (he also led the CHL in 5v5 primary assists with 21).

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