As stated in the season review blog, change was coming to this Maple Leafs team after another disappointing playoff performance. But no one could have predicted that the first domino would drop so quickly and with the playoffs still taking place no less.
When the Maple Leafs announced that they had completed a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins involving fan favorite Kasperi Kapanen. Once all the dust settled the completed deal looks like this:
Maple Leafs Acquire:
2020 Rd 1 pick (15 overall)
LW Evan Rodrigues
C Filip Hallander
D David Warsofsky
RW Kasperi Kapanen
D Jesper Lindgren
LW Pontus Aberg
This a pretty decent return for Kapanen who had maxed out as a third-line player in Toronto. The first round pick alone is a great asset in a deep draft should the Maple Leafs decide to keep it, but in combination of the additional cap space ($3.2 million) opens up additional creative opportunities to acquire additional support on defence.
This trade isn’t by no means completed in a vacuum, what this trade does on any subsequent trades is set the price if the Maple Leafs decide to trade one of Nylander or Marner. If Kapanen and some mid-tier prospects can fetch a first round pick, Hallander, ect. What now is the market for Nylander/Marner in a possible trade?
Where does the team now go with just over $7 million in cap space, with Johnsson and Kerfoot possibly still on the trade board? What currency does the first round pick have to a team like Minnesota or Anaheim, and so on who may be looking at their aging roster and possibly looking to start a rebuild.
Both teams have the options on defence that may appeal to the Maple Leafs like Josh Manson on Anaheim. What defencemen may also become available via free agency that may not be the flashy name but could supply the nessary grit this team is lacking and won’t cost a lot on the open market?
The options available to GM Dubas just a week ago seemed limited, but with this first domino dropping and not the last, the opportunity to make the requisite changes to this roster have just opened up greatly. So stay tuned, as the Summer of Dubas 2.0 is just heating up.