Alright, this one is going to start off fast and furious like the second half a back-to-back bachelor party “banger”. The Toronto Maple Leafs, a massively underachieving team, have a lot of problems. Skill ain’t one of them. Speed isn’t either. The Leafs have what it takes to beat good teams. At least that’s what one would think. Recent times have proved otherwise. And the team’s defence is the easiest thing to point the finger at during these troubling times. Unfortunately, fixing this issue is not easy and will cost the Leafs a pretty penny if they take a shot at trying to fix it before the deadline passes. That’s why they need to snag Alex Pietrangelo away from the St. Louis Blues.
Anybody who has been following the Leafs will tell others that their defensive game is what some would call a “joke”. Toronto lacks defenders that can “stay at home”. Most of their defenders like to pinch. Although it works sometimes, it doesn’t all the time and the Leafs have found themselves getting exposed more often than not.
Maple Leafs Need to Acquire Pietrangelo
Now, for most, this seems like a pipedream. Those people may be right. It’s going to be a hard trade to pull off unless St. Louis is willing to part with Pietrangelo. Not forgetting to mention, if the Blues are willing to eat some of Pietrangelo’s cap hit. It’s a big ask, but for Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, he’ll need to use the power of manifestation to his benefit.
The move doesn’t sound as far fetched as one might think when they look at what Toronto has to offer. Luckily, for Toronto, they have a lot of depth at the wing. Obviously, the philosophy for Toronto is not to subtract from their strengths for minimal gains. And nine out of 10 times, people will fall in line with those beliefs because who wants to give up something of value and get little to nothing in return. As of now, Leaf fans can argue that what happened with the Tyson Barrie trade. Why go through it again?
Why Alex Pietrangelo Coming to Toronto Makes Sense
Nowadays, the way people analyze hockey has changed. The proof doesn’t always lie in the pudding anymore. It’s all about those big-brainy numbers that most have come to call analytics. Goals, assists, and +/- don’t mean as much. It’s all about zone entries, Corsi for, expected goals against, what Peter ate for breakfast and figuring out how Bob is your uncle. So to illustrate some points, CORSICA HOCKEY is going to become today’s version of the hockey bible.
Now, instead of throwing the Xs and Os of analytics into this argument, Last Word On Hockey is going to use something that will make this numbers seminar more digestible.
On CORSICA HOCKEY, they have a rating system that they use to give a value to a player. The higher the rating, the better. The rating system takes all the intangibles and throws them all together to give a player an overall rating like one would expect to see in NHL 20.
Right now, based on the rating system, the Colorado Avalanche‘s star forward Nathan MacKinnon sits atop the list with an 86.17 rating. The player’s rating will change on a game-to-game basis. That said, when it comes to defencemen, Pietrangelo has the fifth-best rating (78.63) behind big shot defencemen like the Washington Capitals John Carlson (80.52) and the Boston Bruins Torey Krug (79.22). That’s not too shabby, considering the struggles that the Blues have been having over the past couple of weeks.
For comparison, the Maple Leafs highest-ranked defencemen are Morgan Rielly whose rating is 75.94. After Rielly is Tyson Barrie whose rating is 75.81. After Barrie is Jake Muzzin whose rating is 74.86. Then there is a bit of a drop to Travis Dermott whose rating is 73.28. Those numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t amazing either. The Leafs need an outliner in the top part of their defensive core to even out the shortcomings from those on the bottom.
What does it take to get Alex Pietrangelo?
It doesn’t take rocket appliances to realize that the Maple Leafs need a defenceman who can play the style of game Alex Pietrangelo does. Honestly speaking, so could every team, including St. Louis.
In terms of St. Louis’ backend, it looks good. They have some young talented players in Vince Dunn, Colton Parayko, and Justin Faulk. Pietrangelo is going to demand a lot of money. One might think he would want $9 million-plus per year. Can the Blues work around his demands and keep themselves out of cap crunch? Probably, but you could say probably not too.
It sounds like Pietrangelo is loyal to St. Louis, so maybe they could make a deal work? At the age of 29, Pietrangelo won’t get better chances to get a pay raise so it would be in his best interest to test free agency.
Obviously, for Toronto, it would be tough to sign him with their cap predicament come July 1st, 2020. Getting Pietrangelo as a rental might work out better unless Toronto is willing to move around some pieces to make this work out better long-term. That could happen if the Leafs miss out on the playoffs. Who knows?
What Could the Leafs Pay to get Pietrangelo?
I could see a package of Johnsson + Liliegren + a second and third-rounder for Pietrangelo + cash. Some may say that’s too high, some may say that’s too low. Dubas and Blues dealmaker Doug Armstrong would have to find middle-ground. That’s if there is such a thing to be found.
Times are desperate. Toronto’s window is slowly closing to make a deep run with a talented roster that goes beyond Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner plus some others Morgan Rielly and Frederik Andersen.
Toronto needs to gamble. It might be scary but one has to hope the dice will roll their way.