The Toronto Maple Leafs have started the initial steps in the rebuild process. On Sunday afternoon, the Maple Leafs dealt soon-to-be free-agents, Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to Nashville In exchange for a first-round pick, prospect Brendan Leipsic and soon-to-be-free-agent center Olli Jokinen.
“We feel that the pieces we got are good, they’re quality pieces,” general manager Dave Nonis said on a conference call Sunday. “We just felt it was the right time to act on it.”
The first-round-pick Toronto is receiving will be in the 2015 draft, likely near the bottom because of the immediate success of the Nashville Predators. Brendan Leipsic, is a former third-round pick who is a work in progress and will need time. All in all, good assets to re-stock the farm. Olli Jokinen, is likely auditioning to be moved before the trade deadline for more young assets.
“In preparation for the 2015 playoff run, our goal was to add a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations and a proven forward who could move up and down lineup based on the situation,” general manager David Poile said in a statement. “We were fortunate to do this in the same transaction with players who are in the prime of their careers more than two weeks before the [NHL] Trade Deadline in order to give them more time to contribute and jell with their teammates”.
Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson must feel like I just won the lottery. The Nashville Predators currently sit atop the National Hockey League standings with 82-points. Cody Franson was the Maple Leafs top asset heading into the trade deadline of March 2. Simply put, Franson is that right-handed defenseman every NHL team is looking to add this time a year. I hope Toronto received the maximum bounty for him… because Cody Franson is returning to the place where his NHL career began. A place where he will be most comfortable and performing at his highest level.
Nashville already possesses one of the deepest blueline’s in the game. With the likes of: Shea Weber, Seth Jones and Roman Josi. Adding Franson’s 32 points in 55 games makes this one of the most sought after groups in the National Hockey League.
Mike Santorelli is the responsible third fourth liner that every playoff team needs to make a deep run.