Introduction to Expansion: Toronto Maple Leafs
Over the next few weeks, we’ll go into detail on each team’s situation with regard to the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Which players are eligible, who will likely deserve protection, and which could be blocked to avoid the risk of losing them? for nothing ? Each team must submit their protection lists by 4:00 p.m. CDT on July 17th. Full eligibility rules can be found here, while CapFriendly has a extension tool to make your own lists.
The Maple Leafs didn’t do too badly in the last expansion draft, losing Brendan Leipsic at the Vegas Golden Knights. This year could be a little more complicated, with the team risking losing a more regular contributor at the back.
Eligible players (non-UFA)
Notable unrestricted free agents
The Maple Leafs are one of the teams that will face a fundamental decision early in their preparation for the expansion. Are they protecting seven forwards and three defenders, or just eight skaters?
If they opted for the more ânormalâ method of protection, protecting seven and three, the team wouldn’t risk losing a key element up front. Matthews, Tavares, Marner, and Nylander are going to be protected whatever they do, but the other three slots could then be used on Kerfoot, Engvall, and one from Brooks or Anderson. Even Hyman, who is an unrestricted free agent, could then be signed before the draft to use that last spot. This would give the Maple Leafs a lot of flexibility in the forward position, allowing them to start doing business before the draft even happens.
The first problem that would arise, however, is that Holl would have to be exposed. Rielly, Brodie, and Muzzin are the obvious choices when it comes to protection, unless the team thinks their more expensive contracts will take them off Seattle’s radar. Holl has become a legitimate top-four option (at least when paired with Muzzin, who has a habit of raising his partner) and costs just $ 2 million against the cap over the next two seasons. That kind of value is crucial in Toronto as they continue to try to navigate the salary cap with so much money tied up by four forwards. Losing him now would also open up a huge hole on the right side, a position the Maple Leafs have struggled to fill for years.
The second problem the seven / three structure would create is the lack of options to leave exposed up front. Only Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Kerfoot and Engvall meet the exposure requirements upfront, which means that at that point two of them must be left unprotected. Usually, this problem can be easily fixed by recruiting a deep player who has spent most of the season with the NHL club. In the case of Toronto, most of these places were occupied by veterans like Joe thornton, Jason spezza and Wayne simmonds, not players who want to sign a cheap contract just to be exposed in Seattle. In fact, if the Maple Leafs protect seven forwards, it would be difficult for them to meet the expansion requirements without making a trade of some sort.
It is therefore more likely that the team will take the eight skaters path, in order to protect an additional defender, as well as the big four forwards. At this point, the decision comes as to whether Dermott, who is still only 24, is worth more to the organization than Holl. The restricted free agent has appeared in 208 games for the team over the past four seasons, but appeared to be overtaken at the very end of the year by top prospect Sandin and never became more than an option. third pair. That’s not to say there’s more potential to unlock in Dermott, but at this point it’s hard to see how the Maple Leafs would protect him without making a separate trade.
Of course, making a trade is a very realistic scenario in this situation, given that the eight skaters route will also leave Kerfoot exposed. This helps meet Toronto’s demands, but could also very well mean that the Kraken take the 26-year-old third-line cross over Dermott. At $ 3.5million, Kerfoot isn’t a burden on most teams’ salary cap and if given the chance he has shown he can be a better offensive producer. Although he was stuck in a more defensive role in Toronto behind Matthews and Tavares, Kerfoot scored at least 42 points in each of his first two seasons in the NHL and then with the Colorado Avalanche.
Moving Kerfoot before the draft could very well be the best option for the Maple Leafs. This would open up a bit more space for them to do their off-season shopping, while potentially bringing back some of the project capital they spent by this year’s deadline. That would almost certainly mean that the Kraken’s attention would shift to Dermott, but as it stands, the team is going to lose one of them anyway.
Projected protection list
Skater Show Requirements Checklist
When Vegas had its expansion draft, at least two forwards and one defenseman had to be exposed who were under contract and played 40 games in the last season or 70 in the last two combined. Due to the pandemic, these thresholds have been changed to 27 games played in 2020-21 or 54 in 2019/20 and 2020-21 combined. By creating our expansion list for each team in this series, we will ensure that these criteria are met.
The protective structure of eight skaters would technically mean that the Maple Leafs also don’t have a defenseman who meets the requirements, but re-signing either Bogosian, Hutton or Dermott would fix that. Dermott might not want to say he would know the deal could very well go to the Kraken, but Hutton mostly seems like a perfect candidate to back down on a low-cost deal.
Still, it’s certainly not a great place for the Maple Leafs, so tight on show requirements. This is one of the downsides to signing so many veterans on one-year contracts, but luckily they won’t need to start the expansion process all over again (at least not until some time ago). time).
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.