The Leafs are at a crossroads here – commit to the team and minor league development process that’s gotten them this far, or say “fuck it” and blow their load by trading away their best forward prospects.
I don’t know what they’ll do, but Kyle Dubas has already put his balls on the table with the Jake Muzzin trade. He sacrificed impressive power forward prospect Carl Grundstrom, the rights to second-round pick defense-man Sean Durzi, and the Leafs first-round pick this season.
That substantial haul secured Muzzin for this year’s run, next year’s run, and possibly an extension after that. It also slapped Jake Gardiner across the face by handing his proposed money to the new heir-apparent the the “second-best defender on the team” throne.
So why does a Bracco or Moore trade potential screw over the Leafs? Because they’re gambling that Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson will resign with the Leafs for anything less than $3.5 million each.
Patrick Marleau’s fatherly presence to the team’s superstars may be an intangible that money can’t buy, but his $6-mill cap hit has ramifications on this team, specifically when it comes to paying Kap and Johnsson.
So, with Bracco’s 53 points in 52 games with the Marlies, and Trevor Moore‘s 38 points in 43 AHL games plus his 4 in 7 NHL games, the Leafs have prospects that are attractive to rebuilding or retooling teams. But if they’re developed stars don’t resign for hometown discounts, trading these two players in particular catapults the team into a free-agent focused nightmare (see Dave Bolland, David Clarkson).
With no GM credentials or experience let me put forward a probably too easy to deflate solution – move out the second tier players. We know Liljegren and Sandin aren’t on the table, we know the 1st rd. pick from 2019 is already gone, and we know Bracco and Moore could be valuable players next year. So, why not move the likes of Dymtro Timashov and Adam Brooks?
Prospects are going to be moved, so my suggestion would be not to get too attached to middling, “still needs time” players like Timashov and Brooks, instead get excited about what Moore can do with an extended look, or where Bracco will fit into the team when he breaks in. No more Tyler Biggs mentality here.