With the NHL’s trade deadline now just 35 days away, there’s serious attention being paid to what players might be in play.
But what about the front office folk in the mix?
In Toronto, a pretty unique situation is shaping up — the Leafs, clearly demarcated as sellers in what projects to be a buyers’ market, will be wheeling and dealing under first-year GM Lou Lamoriello.
That’s 73-year-old Lou Lamoriello, of course.
The guy with nearly 40 trade deadlines under his belt.
Per the Globe and Mail, Lamoriello has his obvious assets — pending UFAs like Roman Polak, P.A. Parenteau, Shawn Matthias — but also identifies two that aren’t as obvious: Dan Winnik, the forward signed to a two-year, $4.5 million deal last summer, and goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Neither has had a good season. Winnik’s production and ice time are down, and he’s played through a nagging injury that has affected his skating and ability to fore-check.
Bernier, meanwhile, had a disastrous start to the year, with no wins and an .883 save percentage in his first 11 games. He is 6-4-0 with a .915 save percentage since mid-December, but Leafs coach Mike Babcock has obviously lost a degree of confidence in him.
There are other players potentially on the move, too.
Newly-minted CP hockey writer Jonas Siegel was on TSN 1040 this past Saturday, and suggested that the three players most likely to be on the move were Parenteau, Polak and Michael Grabner — the latter described as a “pretty good penalty killer.”
So, to recap — the Leafs and Lamoriello could have as many as six guys in play in Matthias, Winnik, Bernier, Parenteau, Polak and Grabner.
There’s also probably a seventh that teams would clamor for, but is unlikely to hit the market — defenseman Matt Hunwick.
“Mike Babcock loves Hunwick,” Siegel explained. “They’ve been using him in a role that he’s probably not suited for — he’s on their top pair with Morgan Rielly — but he’s a guy that Babcock loves.”
Of course, we can’t really say who’s untouchable and who’s not with any great certainty.
This is Lou Lamoriello, after all.