Saturday, 14 April 2012
04/14/12 Oilers/Leafs Wheeling and Dealing
A National Post article appeared today with the headline "Maple Leafs need to make deal with Oilers for top pick in 2012 NHL entry draft." There are some ideas in the article of how to get this deal done, and reasons that it would be good for Toronto. Let's go through and see if there's anything to them for the Oilers.
The article suggests that the Oilers could flip picks with Toronto in exchange for a package that included some combination of Cody Franson or Luke Schenn, a second round pick, as well as one of Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, or Carter Ashton. That's a pretty substantial package, but is it worth Yakupov? First we'll have to understand the pieces involved.
Schenn: At one time Luke Schenn would have been a prized acquisition for the Oilers or any team, but he had a miserable 2011-12. His average ice time per game dropped to last on the team out of all Leafs defensemen; down from second in 2010-11. The dip was substantial - from 22:22 per game last year to just 16:02 per game this time around. He faced relatively average competition at even strength (which constituted the bulk of his ice time), but had very poor results. He was better last year though, so it's a little tricky to nail down how good he will be. Defensive development is not always a linear upward path, so there's a chance that the 22-year old will still be a high end talent. As it is, his value is at an all-time low. He shoots right, which is good for the Oilers, and his 6'2", 220 pound body would help make them bigger. Schenn also led all NHL defensemen in hits this season with 270. He has four more years on his current contract, at a $3.6 million cap hit.
Franson: The Leafs had a ton of NHL-calibre defensemen this season, and Franson was a bit lost in the shuffle. 1:31 of his 16:11 of ice time (second-lowest of their defense; just ahead of Schenn), was on the powerplay, and he didn't spend any time penalty killing. Another right handed shot, the 6'5", 213 pound defender picked up 5-16-21 in 57 games this year. His competition was soft and he had 52% offensive zone starts, but at least he did an exceptional job of moving the puck in the right direction. Franson is an RFA who made just $800,000 in 2011-12, so his price point will be very manageable. At this point it's safe to say he's a good, but not spectacular player.
Kadri: The former 7th overall pick was quite sheltered this year, but he moved the play forward. The sample size is small at just 21 games, and when it comes to overall offense Kadri hasn't exactly been prolific. In 51 NHL games over parts of three seasons, he has collected just 8-11-19. Kadri will be 22 years old at the start of next season, so it's getting down to crunch time for him. At 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, he probably won't be an NHL player unless he can start to bring more offensively. Brian Burke said he is committed to making the Leafs a bigger team, so expect Kadri to be in play this summer whether the Oilers are involved or not.
Colborne: In ten games with the Leafs this season, Colborne picked up a goal and four assists to go with a plus-2 rating. He's a former 16th overall pick from the Eberle draft (2008), and stands at 6'5" and 219 pounds. He scored 16-22-38 in 64 AHL games with the Marlies in 2011-12, so offense may not be his calling card at the next level even though he has the tools. Those who follow the Oilers know that they could use a forward in the top six who has size, so Colborne is probably a better fit than Kadri.
Ashton: 29th overall pick in the Paajarvi draft (2009), Ashton is 6'3" and 200 pounds. He got into 15 games with the Leafs after coming over from Tampa Bay, but had no points and was a minus-10. For a man who always likes to win trades, Brian Burke looks to have stepped in it by trading Keith Aulie for Ashton. This should be a player with little value to the Oilers.
It's important to remember that the article is suggesting that the Leafs use some combination of these assets along with the 5th overall pick in order to move up, so it's not like the Oilers would be trading Yakupov for Schenn. But is there enough here to convince the Oilers to move down? Another small, skilled forward is not what the Oilers need, so Kadri is out. Ashton is not in the conversation for the first overall pick, so he's out. Would fans be happy with the 5th pick plus Colborne, Schenn and a second rounder? What if Yakupov turns into a 50 goal scorer?