The Leafs and Avs are supposedly linked, but who’s really in play?

Perhaps the biggest story heading into the NHL trade deadline in just twelve days is the way the league appears to be circling the carcass of the Colorado Avalanche like a bunch of vultures. Two major names – Landeskog and Duchene – are apparently in play, and as such, you can expect that duo to dominate coverage until the deadline passes. 

As recently as yesterday, some rumblings started to come about regarding the Leafs and their interest in what the Avs might be selling. Until now we hadn’t really heard anything about Toronto being involved in something that big, or much of anything at all. Now they have their names thrown into the hat with most of the league, and those rumours only gained momentum last night with assistant GM Kyle Dubas and head of pro scouting Dave Morrison in Buffalo to see Colorado.

But while this is all exciting and makes for great discussion and daydreaming, it’s difficult to imagine just how the Leafs could make something work for players of this caliber, especially considering how the current roster is structured. 

Make no mistake, even with a less-than-stellar output this season, Duchene is the top prize here. He’s an elite player who often makes for a great highlight pack, and outside of the mediocrity of the Avalanche, he has the resume – appearances with Team Canada at the Olympics and World Cup of Hockey – to solidify his place as one of the premier skill-guys in the NHL.

But how can the Leafs make a play for a forward of that level? Any deal for Duchene would likely include names like Van Riemsdyk or Gardiner from the main roster, plus picks and prospects. Trading JVR would signal somewhat of a lateral move, but could be spun as an attempt to get speedier with Duchene, who might fit the style Babcock wants to play a bit more. Either way, between that option or trading a big piece from the blue-line, I just have a hard time seeing Lamoriello making that sort of franchise-shaking move without filling a major need.

Landeskog is an interesting case because while he’s also not producing at a high level (no one in Colorado is, really), it seems the Avs could be more desperate to move him. This reeks of a potential “change the culture” trade with the captain being the moving part. 

Based on a likely much-lower acquisition cost, it’s easier to envision Landeskog in blue-and-white than Duchene. But again, there isn’t exactly a pressing need for another young winger in Toronto, and Colorado is going to want futures with the potential for big returns. It’s just another scenario that’s difficult to see the Leafs getting into.

What might make the most sense is that Toronto isn’t eyeing either of these two prime targets, and are looking further down the lineup. I’d actually wager more that they’re looking at buying low on Tyson Barrie, a right-handed top four defenceman who’s seen his usually-obscene offensive output limited this season on the heels of signing a brand new contract.   

Barrie is in season one of a four-year deal that pays him $5.5-million AAV, and while the contract was looked upon as a tidy piece of business when it was signed, you can imagine the Avs getting a bit nervous about it as the wheels have come off the entire team this year. If they’re nuking this roster, Barrie will probably be in play as well, and swooping in to grab him for pennies on the dollar would be something for the Leafs to think about.

Barrie is in the middle of a down year, and there’s no other way to put it. His boxcar numbers are down a bit from his usual pace (a 40-point pace this season compared to the 51-point pace of the past three seasons), and his underlying numbers have also suffered, as he’s been a negative relative Corsi player for the first time in the last five seasons at even strength. 

But the Avs are bad. The worst. And I’m sure managers around the league see that. 

Basically every player in Colorado has seen their numbers hit the skids, and it would be unwise to take this recent 50-game sample at face value instead of the rest of their careers to this point. Plenty of these players are still young. 

I mean, Barrie himself is just 25-years-old. And if the Avalanche are afraid of paying out the rest of his contract (which ascends in real money value, mind you) as Sakic lights that roster on fire, a team like Toronto, desperate for help on the back-end, could be poised to pounce. Fit-wise it makes much more sense than Landeskog, and you have to believe the rate of return for Barrie is far, far lower than Duchene, something the Leafs might be able to manage without carving out core pieces. 

  • MST

    I’m betting/hoping its both Duchene and Barrie! Duchene is a LW and a center and is one of the best face-off men in the league. The Leaf’s LW depth after JVR is non-existent. How much better would Matthew’s line be with Duchene on LW, and Duchene taking the dangerous face-offs until Matthews masters that too?
    I would only do it for the right price and the price for Duchene I’m thinking should be in line with what we got for Kessel. Or more accurately EXACTLY what we got for Kessel. Namely: Kapanen, Reichel and a 1st round pick. Kapanen is ready for a top 6 role in the NHL but the Leafs don’t have room for him there. Reichel is waiver eligible next year and the leafs don’t have room for him either. But Colorado needs wingers every bit as much (or more) as they need D. Add in a 1st and Colorado is essentially getting 3 first round picks! And the Leafs won’t miss any of them!
    For Barrie, I think Carrick and Neilson should work. If you look at what Neilson did last year in the WHL and what he’s doing in the AHL this year, this combination is every bit as good as what Carolina would offer in a trade for Duchene assuming that they won’t give up Hannifin.
    In summary
    Leafs: Duchene and Barrie
    Colorado: Kapanen, Reichel, 2017 first round pick, Carrick and Neilson.

  • Stan Smith

    I’m not that fond of the idea of picking up Barrie. The Leafs biggest problem right now is on defence, and by that I mean dmen that can keep the puck out of their own net. They have dmen that can contribute to offence. They also have a small defence. Tyson Barrie is known for his offensive prowess, but not his defensive ability, plus he is only 5′ 10″, 190 lbs. Question is, is he really going to help fill their biggest need. or is he just going to be more of the same?

    • RedLightRaycroft

      Um. The best way for the D to keep the puck out of their own net is to move it up the ice and put it in the other team’s net. Not screening their own goalie or hitting guys or chasing the puck. We don’t need more Polak’s, we need more Gardiner’s.

      • Stan Smith

        That’s called offence. Like it or not the other team is going to have the puck at least close to half the time. A team needs players that know what to do in those situations.

    • Kanuunankuula

      He’s pretty much the same. D-zone issues, great at offence. His play is also trending down apparently. Scoring D also cost a ton, so I don’t see the fit either. Rather they go for a new generation “stay at home”-Dman like Manson or such.

      • RadioAlex

        Is Manson an upgrade on Connor Carrick though? That’s the big one for me… because you can only protect one in the expansion draft. If I could definitively say “yes Manson>Carrick” then I wouldn’t even raise this as a concern.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Colorado could end up trading either of Duchene or Landeskog to a team that is also trying to make the playoffs. This could end up pushing us out of a playoff spot this year and maybe even next year.

    A lot of folks here and at other sites believe we must get rid of Polak and Hunwick. What they don’t say is who they intend to replace them with. In house it would be Martin Marincin and Alexey
    Marchenko, or someone off the Marlies. Both of these guys are listed as 7th and 8th on our depth chart. When we speak of acquiring a defenceman we always talk about getting a top four with good offensive skills. So my question is. realistically, who do the people that want to deep six Polak and Hunwick plan to replace them with?

      • LukeDaDrifter

        Me too. I think we would all like to get a look at him. The fact Babcock has yet to put him in the lineup so far, leads me to believe Polak has more to offer at the moment.

        • AussieBoy

          Regarding Babcock using Polak,could it have anything to do with trade value?
          I ask this only cause I am surprised that Marchenko has not been thrown in the mix yet.
          If Polak went,you would hope Marchenko would know how to kill a penalty or 2…

  • DukesRocks

    I really don’t see the Avs being interested in JVR or a trade straight up for farm prospects. So unless the Leafs are willing to part with picks, and guys like Reilly and Nylander I don’t see a any deal here.

    On a separate note, just watched the vids on the article “Mathews has his own song”. What is great about the article though is the PAIN Leafs fans have endured over the decades on the other two videos. A must watch. Here is a link to the article and try not to cry… lol.


    • LukeWarmWater

      Dukes you probably didn’t know this about me but I’m a senior citizen rap singer. Just ask my grand kids. I go by the name M.C.GrandpaLuke. I’m working on my latest project volume 19 of my greatest hits. But on a serious vain, that indeed was classic. I think they needed an old fart like me in the video doing my James Brown moves on the ice. But heh that is just my opinion.

      Man I’m one exited guy with my buddy Drake getting a grammy for hot line bling. I did a different version which started out You use to call me on my rotary phone. Well I’m old okay, hell I can remember the leafs winning cups, ask brother Luke.

      All I want for the weekend is taking care of that black hole tax grabbing Bytown getting the unmitigated thrashing of their life.

  • Capt.jay

    I think the Avs will want youth if there’s a rebuild going on so interest in JVR is
    probably not there. I sat with Mr. Sakic for 4 hours this fall on a plane and he didn’t say much except that Roy was hard the players. I wonder if there’s any after effect or distaste still between players and the organization because they sure seemed to quit this year.

  • RadioAlex

    I wonder if the Leafs see Landeskog as a much better Hyman.

    Though they may have a lot of young wingers, they don’t have a lot with size and grit and with the skill to play higher in a lineup.

    Sorry Kerby.