Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports

Leafs’ protected list made public: Leivo staying (for now), Leipsic exposed

It’s finally here. The Vegas expansion draft is officially in-process right now, with teams’ protected lists now unveiled to the public and the Golden Knights themselves.

For the Leafs, the big debate among supporters was whether or not Matt Martin would (or should) be protected. Doing so would leave Toronto in a position of having to make a decision on exposing two of Josh Leivo, Kerby Rychel, and Brendan Leipsic.

Well, get ready to rage, because that is indeed what’s happened. Here’s the Leafs’ list of protected players, as first reported by Kristen Shilton:

Position Player
F James van Riemsdyk
F Nazem Kadri
F Tyler Bozak
F Matt Martin
F Leo Komarov
F Josh Leivo
F Connor Brown
D Jake Gardiner
D Morgan Rielly
D Connor Carrick
G Freddie Andersen

Truthfully, there aren’t any real shocking developments here. As mentioned, the Martin pick has been contested, but I think most expected it to happen. The only other slight surprise is that Leivo was protected, presumably leaving Brendan Leipsic available for Vegas. I’d say most folks who completed a mock draft included Leipsic in the protections, mainly due to Leivo having such a hard time getting into the lineup this past season.

But none of this is set in stone, anyway. Vegas has made it clear they’re looking to make deals to gather up other assets to let teams hold on to players they’re particularly keen on. For all we know, Lamoriello has something else in place to keep Leipsic in the fold. [Remember, in this expansion window, the other 30 teams are only allowed to cut deals with Vegas directly. Otherwise, rosters are locked.]

It should be noted that Toronto will require waivers to send down each of Rychel, Leivo, and Leipsic next year, so perhaps they’re fine with losing one now. I mean, there’s a reasonable chance they ship off all three by the time this summer is over.

Beyond the Leafs’ list, there’s a ton more happening around the league as we see other teams’ exposed players. Josh Manson and Sami Vatanen, for example, have both been left available by Anaheim. Rumours have circulated that the Ducks have something worked out as a side deal to keep those guys, but maybe that’s part of something bigger. Vegas can take players of value and immediately flip them, so that might be something to keep an eye on with regard to the Leafs.

Vegas will have its roster announced at the NHL Awards Show on Wednesday night. This roster freeze that the rest of the league is currently under will be lifted on Thursday morning, where we’ll likely get a better idea of what the Leafs are up to on the trade front.

  • Stan Smith

    No rage here. I fully expected the Leafs to protect Martin, and rightfully so. I won’t bother listing the reasons again. My only surprise was that the Leafs protected Leivo over both Leipsic and Rychel. Whether or not it means they value Leivo more, or have a plan, or deal, in place, we will have to wait and see.

  • MartinPolak

    jeffler I’m awaiting for my apology and kudos for being one of the few who said that martin will be protected. Not only did you mock me on here but also on twitter for being “lunch pail hockey lover” and other sorts of thoughts. Doing so would being an example for those haters and trolls of your work on how to respond accordingly.

    • The question was never whether it was going to happen but, rather, whether it should. Martin’s contract was likely something that Vegas wouldn’t take due to its term and dollar amount. They want potential and trade assets. If I’m them, I’m picking every young kid with potential I can while making a few obvious exposure choices to hit the required cap floor and then signing any FA worth signing (see Dadonov and Shipachyov, et al.). Then, with all the kids I have, use whichever aren’t slotted into the NHL lineup as trade chips, specifically goalies given they will get a much better return (see Bernier, Jones, Talbot, and every other young backup traded in the past couple years).

      Why, with all this considered, would you pick a nearly 30 year old grinder with next to no trade value, especially given that players like him are available as FAs every year? Even if your motivation is “protect the kids”, you can get that in FA and really it will be a few years anyway before any of their top prospects worth protecting make the NHL anyway. So ya, don’t throw out your shoulder trying to pat yourself on the back for supporting the protection of a player that absolutely wasn’t warranted from either the Leafs’ or Vegas’ perspective.

  • lukewarmwater

    I’m not surprised that the leafs will protect Leivo who brings physicality to his game and has averaged close to a point a game in his limited play with the leafs.

  • STAN

    I agree with Stan Smith. How can you ignore 10 points in 13 games playing on a fourth line much of the time. Leivo has great hands and nose for the puck. AND… he’s a lot more physical that other Leafs. I was picking Leivo all along. So another bold prediction – Vegas chooses Leipsic.

  • Skill2Envy

    Anyone else notice that Detroit left Mike Green for the picking. What’s the chances the Leafs make a deal – They select Rychel from the Leafs and Green from DET. Leafs agree to flip them Marincin or Marchenko to fill the D spot and add in a Leivo or Leipsic.

    All bases covered for LV plus they get two additional players; all under 25 and don’t have to actually keep Green and his salary (wasted in LV imo).

  • Kevin

    As was stated in the article, Leipsic and Rychel are subject to waivers this upcoming season. Currently, none of those players have a spot open on the roster and the Leafs are at risk to lose them at the start of the season. The Leafs were able to protect virtually their entire team from last season and even protected Leivo who only played 13 games while sitting most of the year as a healthy scratch.

  • Capt.Jay

    How come we haven’t heard of Hossa’s skin disorder till now? You know, now that he’s 38 with three years left on his deal. If it’s legit then ok, but he’s been able to play with it for years apparently until now, while Chicago is cap strapped. Almost seems too obvious. Thoughts?