Can The Leafs Afford to Give Up a Pick for a New Coach/GM?

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ coaching and general manager search could prove costly.

As we’re all now aware, new rules are in place that force NHL teams that hire a coach or GM from another team’s organization to send a draft pick the other way as compensation. Back in April, Sportsnet reported that the cost for plucking a coach or GM midseason would be a 2nd round pick, while hiring one in the offseason would only be a 3rd round pick. The team who’s coughing up a pick can choose to do so in any of the following three seasons.

Also according to the Sportsnet report, a coach’s season ends when his team is eliminated from the playoffs. That must mean teams can also negotiate compensation outside of the NHL’s set rules, since Detroit has had Mike Babcock suitors sign a permission form to speak with him, and agree to give up a third round pick if he leaves the Red Wings. Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning weeks ago.

Since we know that the Leafs have signed one of those forms for permission to speak to (and hire) Babcock, we also know that they’re ready to sacrifice that 3rd round pick. Is that something that the Leafs – a bottom feeder team that has vowed to build through the draft – can afford?

Simply put, yes.

The argument against giving up compensation is that the Leafs have done a pretty terrible job of holding on to their draft picks over the past decade. Since 2005, the Leafs have selected 67 players through the NHL Entry Draft… the 23rd fewest picks. For context, Chicago has selected 89 times (the most), followed by Los Angeles, the New York Islanders, and Buffalo with 80.

That being said, the Leafs have given up their picks for much worse reasons than hiring arguably the best bench boss in hockey. Recently, Toronto has given up picks for Peter Holland, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Bernier, Ryan O’Byrne, Dave Steckel, John-Michael Liles and of course, Phil Kessel – not to mention in deals to move up in the draft, a la Tyler Biggs.

Some of those deals I’d make again, sure, but the point is the Leafs gave up too many picks in deals that didn’t provide enough value.

Babcock is a different kind of beast. For one, you’re probably talking about five years of an excellent coach in exchange for a pick that will most likely produce a borderline NHLer or career minor leaguer. Of course there’s value to be had in the third round of any draft, but take a look at Scott Cullen of TSN’s NHL Draft Pick Values and you’ll see that Babcock’s value to the organization is more likely going to be greater than that of a third round pick.

If it’s not Babcock, then maybe I wouldn’t be as eager to give up the pick, but it’s still probably worth it. There are a number of coaches and general managers that are worth the cost of admission, specifically on the GM side of things. Mike Futa? Absolutely. Send that pick to Los Angeles and don’t look back.

Also, let’s not forget that the Leafs – since committing to the rebuild – have actually done a good job of stockpiling draft picks for this year and next. In 2015, the Leafs added Nashville’s 1st and Pittsburgh’s 4th via trade. In 2016, Toronto owns all of their own picks, plus an extra 2nd, 5th and conditional 6th. How many more picks do you think will be added to the cupboard when one or more of Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, and James van Riemsdyk are dealt? 

Over the next few years, the Leafs will be able to give up a third round pick (or two) and not miss a beat. They’ll be able to recoup those picks in trading players they no longer have a need for. 

Do you think the Leafs can afford to give up a pick for a new coach and/or general manager? Let me know in the comments below.

  • giproc

    If the picks mean that the Leafs are getting the persons they think are the absolute best for the job, yes. If it’s just to sign the best of what’s available at any given time, possibly no.

    This year is an example of an off season when the pool of candidates is strong enough to warrant the pick.

    They can recoup picks by trading ANY or ALL of the players mentioned in the article. Rebuilds are no time to be sentimental.

  • Gary Empey

    The third round is where good scouts find those hidden gems. What can a good coach do for the Leafs that Randy Carlyle did not try in the last few years.

  • Gary Empey

    This is off topic. I hope you don’t mind me posting it here.

    Here is a good link at utube featuring aprox. 20 minutes of shift by shift video, some with poster’s commentary, of some of the top 2015 draft prospects.
    Poster’s commentary is very drole. This is not highlight clips. It appears to be every shift the players played in a given game. It does give you a more complete look at the players skills.
    I watched the Strome, Marner, and Hanifin ones first.
    -Marner is a lot, lot better than I gave him credit for. Terrific skater. He even threw some body checks.
    -Hanifin is a very sharp (stick to stick) passer. Very sound defensibly. Smooth skater. -Strome is deadly around the net. He seemed a little awkward at other times or unsure what to do when other team has the puck. Little physical presence.

  • Jeremy Ian

    It’s worth the price as long as the team stays the course and does not give in to temptation to accelerate the transition.

    If Babcock doesn’t coach the Leafs we may see him coaching the Sabres. That would be a serious threat. So, getting Babcock for Toronto keeps him away from others.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Dream on folks, . . . , Mike Babcock is NOT what the TML’s need right now. Great coach but he’s got to be looking for a club with some potential, at the very least. The Leafs are light years away from being a ‘serious contender’ in the NHL, . . . , I’m talking top 4 or 5 teams. Babs
    knows that, of course and if, by some total mystery he was persuaded to come to TO, it would be just another $$$ grab and Toronto is great at throwing $$$ at any problem. Duh ! Kessel, Phaneuf, Clarkson, Lupul,etc all come to mind immediately. How far has that got the Leafs? If you think that Babcock can ride in on his white horse and raise the Buds from the ashes, you’re living on Mars. It’s a total joke ! Best bets for MB are Buffalo, St louis, [even though Hitchcock has as good or better resume than Babs], San Jose or the best bet of all Detroit Red Wings. The Leafs need a long term plan, starting from well back in the pack. That means sensible, strategic drafting, especially in 2015, [Hunter & Dubas have been putting in long hours on this], trading plenty of the current player roster for present and future picks, [means Kessel, Phaneuf, JVR, Bozak, Lupul, even Gardiner], putting in place a superior scouting organization to scrutinize potential in NA and in Europe, hiring a coach, [who can teach] and a GM who have a long term view of an authentic rebuild. To do otherwise is to ‘piss away’ another 48 years. What serious Leafs’ fan wants that ?

    • Jeremy Ian

      You are correct that odds are against Babcock ever moving behind the bench in Toronto however… if he was willing to come onboard for 5 years as a teacher, I would give up the compensation in a heartbeat.
      I believe Jeff Blashill is the best option for the next 3-5 years. The Shanaplan preaches patience, and many true fans are willing to concede it takes time, patience and a plan. Whatever coach and GM Shanahan, Dubas and Hunter hire, they will be the correct choice for the Maple Leafs.
      (Are you listening Simmons, Feschuk and the rest of Torontos sport media circus who often seem to desire making the news instead of reporting it)

  • Jeremy Ian

    It appears that the Star’s Kevin McGran could be the early winner of predicting that the leafs were ohhhh sooooo close in getting Mike Babcock as coach. Close but no cigar appears to be the case.