Wishful Thinking: Maple Leafs Fringe Players Can’t Replace Stars

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Date sent: 2017/11/22 08:32:31
This gives the Maple Leafs an incredible four-lines deep attack, but at the same time, Connor Brown probably needs/deserves to have <a href=""></a> more ice time. The Team is weak on the back-end and they’re overall team defense is not very good. They have three pending Unrestricted Free Agents. Josh Leivo, Nikita Soshnivov and Kasperi Kapanen hardly ever play, but probably deserve to be in the NHL.
This leads to some fairly obvious math being done by observers of the team, such as the writers and readers of this site, and pretty much everyone else who is interested in the Maple Leafs. The team needs to eventually make trades to improve team defense, and to move out some excess parts.
The main storyline seems to involve getting what you can for Bozak, JVR and Komarov, and then filling in the holes with Leivo, Soshnikov and Kapanen.
Only one problem with that: It’s impossible.
Tyler Bozak
Tyler Bozak is a centre. He gets points, but he’s not very good defensively. If the Leafs upgraded on him, you’re talking about improving on someone who is probably very easily a top-ten third line centre. So if you can do it, fine, but to do so is a significant move towards winning a cup this season, as opposed to a necessity. The main reason I want them to move Bozak is to put Nylander at centre, but if the team isn’t going to do that, it’s hard to imagine them getting a significant upgrade on Bozak in-season when there are other needs to address.
Besides, if they did, at least hypothetically improve on Bozak, he could easily be used as the fourth line centre and he’d be the best in the NHL at that position, by a mile. Also, using Bozak as an asset to trade probably doesn’t accomplish much. It’s doubtful you could swap him for a player straight-up who’d improve the Leafs today.
Leo Komarov
The Maple Leafs are a mediocre to bad defensive team. Their best defensive forward is Leo Komarov, and it’s not close. Komarov can hold his own with Kopitar, Bergeron, Niederitter, Silfverberg and Joel Ward as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL.
To think that any player the Leafs have on the Marlies or the in the Press-Box could step in and do what he does is preposterous. Not even Kapanen, who is very good defensively, can hope to fill Komarov’s shoes in this department.
Therefore, given the make-up of this team and his role on it, he’s essentially untouchable. They might not re-sign him – if cheaper or different options present themselves in the offseason – but they certainly can’t trade him right now.
The only thing to do is either re-sign him in-season or treat him like a rental. But there is no way the Leafs can replace Komarov right now with Kapanen or even more laughably, Soshnikov. If either of those players becomes half the defensive player Komarov is, the Leafs will be incredibly happy. But for a team with designs on <a href=""></a> winning this year, neither one is replacing Leo Komarov today.
Van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk has 11 goals in 21 games. That is the fifth highest total in the NHL.
He’s either been in and around, or on pace for, 30 goals now for six straight years. He is on a 40 goal pace. He has a 52% Corsi and last year, he was the team’s Game Score leader.
But sure, Josh Leivo is going to step right into the lineup and replace him.
If the Leafs could somehow pull off a sign-and-trade where they got some actual value for JVR, and it improved their team, then I can see why trading him makes sense.
But if not, then let him walk or re-sign him. Because JVR the rental player is 100% better than any other player you could hope to trade for as a “rental.”

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