The Toronto Maple Leafs are the current kings of the NHL, leading the league standings and by a decent margin. In a rare season in which the Leafs don’t have to go through the Tampa Bay Lightning and more importantly the dreaded Boston Bruins early in the playoffs, Toronto is understandably excited about their prospects and willing to load up before the deadline to give themselves their best shot at a title. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the team’s current focus is on bolstering their forward corps. He states that the goal is to add a middle-six forward prior to the trade deadline and, if possible, one that could line up at center on the third line or shift to wing and play higher in the lineup. One potential fit that continues to be linked to Toronto is Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund, if you can call him “middle-six”. On a struggling Predators team, Granlund has been one of the few highlights, leading all Nashville forwards in ice time, blocked shots, and Corsi For and second only to Filip Forsberg in scoring. Dreger believes that Granlund, an impending free agent, will absolutely be available as the Predators seem poised to begin a fire sale of sorts and he could be the ideal pick-up for Toronto as a luxury depth addition – a current top-line forward moving into a middle-six role. Of course, given Granlund’s strong play there will be other suitors and Toronto will certainly take a look at additional options should a Granlund deal not prove to be viable.
- Trade talks have quieted down on New York Rangers defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, as it seems that teams do not want to make the financial commitment this year and next to the polarizing defenseman despite his obvious ability. Yet, DeAngelo wants to get back on the ice. He was told that his time with the Rangers was over and, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli, that extends to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack as well. New York has informed DeAngelo that he will not be assigned to their affiliate; however, they are willing to loan him out to another AHL team. Seravalli reports that DeAngelo and his representation are currently in the process of trying to find a spot for him to play out the rest of this season in the minors. In the big picture, the fact that it has come to this means that a trade elsewhere seems highly unlikely. Expect DeAngelo to be bought out this summer and take a short-term “show me” deal elsewhere.
- Even as the Canadian junior leagues continue to work towards a full return to play, there are concerns about the 2021 NHL Draft and the pressure on teams due to the lack of complete information on eligible prospects. While European leagues, American junior leagues, and the NCAA have all had some semblance of a full season, the same cannot be said for Canada, the largest producer of NHL talent. A number of teams have expressed support for postponing the draft until later this year or even next year and a number of option have been proposed. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman stated on a recent radio appearance that this change is easier said than done. Due to all of the language pertaining to draft eligibility and rights, all collectively bargained, it will be difficult to postpone the draft, even if it is in the best interests of the teams and many prospects. Friedman notes that the NHLPA presented the league with a number of issues that would need to be addressed before the draft could be delayed and Friedman hears that that there simply may not be enough fight on the league side to figure out the many solutions. Dreger reports that, one way or another, answers are needed soon and there could be a meeting as early as Thursday to discuss all issues and options.