I recently asked fans to send in their Maple Leafs questions, and they did not disappoint. Here are my answers to all of those questions.
I often get asked for my thoughts on players, possible trades, and many other Maple Leafs related things. This week I decided to get people to send me their questions, so I can answer all of them at the same time. So, without further ado, let’s get to the questions.
@wayneGoLeafs: Do you think we’ll go after Kuemper if we trade Freddie?
JR: I think the Maple Leafs would put Darcy Kuemper at or near the top of their list as a replacement for Frederik Andersen. They are the same age, but Kuemper is $500,000 cheaper with two years left. Andersen only has one year left. I think they would for sure call Arizona and inquire about asking price.
@Clancy871: What are the leafs doing with Freddie?
JR: As much as I and many others love Andersen, the Maple Leafs would be smart to trade him now. If they don’t plan on re-signing him, then they need to get assets as opposed to letting him walk away for nothing as a free agent next summer.
@Leaf4Ever: What intangibles are missing from the Leafs?
JR: A few intangibles are missing. At the top of the list would be a top pairing stay at home defenseman. Next would be toughness. With Kyle Clifford not re-signing, the Maple Leafs will need to replace his grit and toughness. If Andersen is traded, then we can add a new starting goaltender to this list.
@AdamCosburn: What will they do to upgrade the defense but stay under the salary cap?
JR: The Maple Leafs have a few players on the trading block. If they can move those players and create more cap space, then Free Agency is the Maple Leafs best bet for upgrades. We could also see some promotions from within the organization. Guys like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren might be given bigger roles on the team. Those two prospects are also a much cheaper option.
@thekazmaniac: What changes do you realistically see for the defense this offseason?
JR: I don’t think we will see as much change as some fans would like to see. I do believe that Kyle Dubas will find a way to add another top-four defenseman. Other than that, I think they will need to promote from within due to the salary cap not going up. With Sandin now having some more experience and the addition of Mikko Lehtonen, hopefully, the team will be better.
@Bassman8864: What’s your opinion on Manny Malhotra joining the Leafs bench as an assistant coach?
JR: I love this signing. I enjoyed watching Malhotra as a player, and from what I hear from those around the NHL, he is a rising star in the coaching field. He is known for relating well with the players, so we will see if the Maple Leafs players buy-in.
@wayneGoLeafs: Do you think we could possibly get a 2nd rounder for Johnsson?
JR: I don’t think a 2nd round pick is out of the question for Andreas Johnsson. If the Maple Leafs can trade him and his $3.4 million cap hit for a pick and have no salary coming back, that could be a huge win. The more cap space the Maple Leafs have at the start of free agency on October 9th, the better. They will need the cap space if they are serious about upgrading the defense.
@hawkeyguy: Did you like the job Dave Hakstol did this season?
JR: Not completely sold yet on Hakstol. He is in charge of our penalty killing and the Maple Leafs finished 21st out of 31 teams this season. The team finished with a 77.7% penalty kill ranking percentage. A decent penalty kill would have been a top 10 placement. In order to have done that, the Maple Leafs would have needed an 82.1% ranking or better.
@Leaf4Ever: What Players with heart and a strong desire to win, can we bring in?
JR: I think all players have a desire to win, but I think I understand what you’re trying to get at. I will leave trades out of this answer and just go with unrestricted free agents. Forwards that I think best fall into this category are Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Martin, and Pat Maroon. Having one or two of those four in your bottom six could go along way. As for Defenseman, I would say, Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, and Brenden Dillon. The salary cap will play a huge role in what the Maple Leafs can do, but add any of these three to your defense, and you can count it as an upgrade.
@AdamCosburn: Will Willy be traded?
JR: I do not see William Nylander getting traded. I’m not saying we won’t, but it would have to be a deal that Dubas just can’t say no to. If he needs to be included in a deal for the Maple Leafs to land a top-two defenseman, then I think you trade him.
A Special Thank You
Thank you to everyone who sent in questions. I’m sorry if your question did not get answered, but I went with what I thought were the top 10 questions. For those of you who did get your questions posted, I hope you like my answers.
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