Virtual GM – Leafs/Canes Blockbuster Trade

What would it look like if two devoted fans pretended to manage their favourite NHL organizations and tried to make a legitimate hockey trade.

Doug Abrams (@dabrams2021) and I have known each other as long as I’ve been involved in online hockey talk. For the purposes of this story, he will take on the role of Hurricanes GM Don Waddell and I will take on the role of Kyle Dubas. I have the same glasses so it should be easy enough. What hopefully will add to the realism of this piece, an attempted trade between two franchises Carolina and Toronto, is the mutual respect I believe we have developed for one another. I say this because it is the same type respect General Managers in the National Hockey League share. There’s only 31 positions and it truly is a fraternity. A job only they or someone who has held one previous can truly understand. In any event, we will try our best to play “Virtual GM” here today.

Doug and I, because of the relationship I’ve eluded to, will be able to talk openly and honestly about our teams, our needs, bearing in mind we are in competition. The following is our attempt to make a deal beneficial to both clubs.

Preliminary talks have somewhat occurred. Negotiations begin.

Jude (Kyle): Doug (Don), you guys are playing well. Congrats on that. As we’ve talked over the past few months I think a mutual interest has been expressed so I’m not calling to waste either of our time today. For us the timeline to make some adjustments or adds to our group is now. Or you of a similar mindset?

Doug: Jude, we both know our teams need and what has to be improved to make a run. It is no secret that my team desires a proven goal scorer. That is why we are talking. You need a right-handed offensive defensive man who can add goals and especially on the power play. I have several irons in the fire. We need to get to a hockey deal now. I am not going to be able to steamroll you and you are not going to be able to steamroll me. It will be a hockey deal of value for value. I need Nylander. I have Faulk available. That is a hockey deal two adults could and should make.

Jude: No, absolutely. We are in the same boat. That’s why I called this morning and this isn’t our usual dance. The music has stopped and we are fielding and making calls as well that are beyond the opening stage. But this aside, it’s you and I talking now. As for our needs, I’m not sure Justin checks the boxes for us. He does the ones you’ve outlined but if we are discussing William’s name that’s not a player we are currently interested in. That’s not to say we couldn’t use him or value him.

Doug: For Faulk, he has dramatically improved his defensive awareness. He has a cannon. You don’t have that kind of offensive defenseman and you will need him for a playoff run. It is obvious to me that your Leafs have real chemistry. It has the feel of the 2005-2006 Hurricanes as long as your goalie, Andersen, stays healthy and as long as Matthews and Marner stay healthy. Rule 101 of winning the Stanley Cup is to load up when your team has the momentum. For Faulk, what deal are you offering me? I have enough Leafs’ hats and sweaters in my closet, so thanks but no thanks for that part of the offer.

Jude: Well those are always included. Call it a freebie. With Justin I don’t disagree, we have our own scouts and staff. I think what may be an issue here in trading for him is I’m not sure I can take away from our current roster in order to add him. My offer largely would revolve around futures and I’m not sure that suits you. In order to take from my team and offer scoring your team desperately lacks the conversation would have to grow. I can make an offer, however.

Doug: We are not interested in moving Faulk just for futures. We have impressive talent in Charlotte. We have some guys over in Europe who are developing well. Our present lack of scoring is an issue that our prospects will solve in time. We are talking about the present. I am open to tangible offers. It’s time to move to offers. We both know where our teams are and what we need now, not in the future. This trade will only work if I am building my team now and also for the future. I can’t use a rental player. Our team is not there yet. Your team is. The salary cap monster is heading your way like the Ice King. Everybody knows that, including you. So make me a hockey deal offer.

Jude: Oh we both know where our teams are. Scary cap talk won’t advance things along, I can assure you I’m the least worried of the 31 managers it seems but also, yes, I am a realist. And we are both interested in a hockey trade, first and foremost. Your pipeline may be great and it is, but gamebreakers are not there and we know this. But now we are getting off topic into assessing each other. Michael Ferland. Are you making him available or listening there?

Doug: Ferland is a beast. He and his agent are still a little out of our assessed value; but I want to make a deal with him. If somebody comes up with an offer we can’t refuse, well, obviously we won’t refuse. The truth is if this were two seasons later and we had Necas, Kuokkanen, Roy, Saarela, Bean, and Fox, among some of our guys, at their NHL game, I’d say no way we would ever consider trading Ferland. He is a guy who is made for the playoffs. Tough, fast, great hands, competitive, eager to drop the gloves to protect his teammates. So if you make me a deal that takes all that into account – and also takes into account the value of a rental player, then sure. Remember what Doug Weight and Mark Recchi did for the Hurricanes? The Canes would never have won the Cup without their play and without their leadership. Ferland is that kind of guy for the playoffs for your team. Marner and Matthews will need Ferland.

Jude: Look, I’ll be straight. Our staff and myself value Ferland. Is it immediate scoring you want for him or does his status change that? Also you know people talk. There’s a feeling Adam Fox is headed for free agency. Is there a chance we include him in something bigger?

Doug: You will want to make an offer soon. As you might imagine, my emails are blowing up and my cell phone texts look like I’m a movie star. It’s crazy.

Jude: Yeah to be honest Lawrence (AGM) is on a call here beside me which could swing what we do. For Ferland I can offer Jeremy Bracco, a 2nd and a 2020 3rd.

Doug: As you know from dealing with me, I never take offense at any suggested deal. That is the nature of our business. If that were the going rate for Ferland, I’d have already traded Ferland. I have better deals on the table now. Ferland is a rare breed. You can’t find another guy like him even potentially available. Ferland is going to take Nylander and a 2019 2nd and a real prospect. We can discuss the prospect. I’d consider but will have to run by our management team, Kapanen, your 2019 1st and your 2020 2nd. I am not sure I can sell that to my group. It would at least be an offer we’d consider. Bracco is a fine young prospect, but we have Necas, Kuokkanen, Roy, Saarela, Gauthier. We are fine there. I can sell my group on Nylander, a 2019 second and a serious prospect. The good news for you is that with Nylander being out for so long, he is not close to his real game and it may well be 2020 and after a full preseason that he gets to his NHL game. As such, for this run, you’ll miss him less. You might well be able to sign Ferland with the savings you get on trading Nylander and Kapanen does a lot of what Nylander does.

Jude: The savings, eh. Well your counter offer was probably as out in left field as my initial one. Lol, so good on you I deserved it. If Willy’s name even comes up than Doug Hamilton’s does too. What’s going on there, Doug? Why is his name coming up? AGAIN. I mean these are guys you just acquired but we have interest there as well. Significant.

Doug: Hamilton is a guy we can make available. Hamilton has been excellent. It did take a him a little while to figure out the style he needed to play for us. Probably part of that is we see Brind’Amour as a rising star as a head coach, but he’s getting on the job training. We think Brind’Amour will be worth it. He and Hamilton needed to get on the same page. They have now and it shows. We have Pesce and Faulk; and we love Adam Fox and Bean. We can afford to talk about trading Hamilton. So what is your offer for Ferland and Hamilton. You know it is going to take a wagonload of talent coming back for us to make that trade of Ferland and Hamilton. You also probably want to pause a moment and consider what your competitors will look like if and when they add Ferland and Hamilton. If you were a GM of another playoff team that is dead serious about getting the Cup, you would be licking your chops at the idea of adding those two guys for a serious run at winning the Stanley Cup.

Jude: Can I put you on hold for a minute, Doug?

Doug: I’ve got another phone conference with another team in five minutes. Let’s get some concrete offers going so we both have something definite to bring back to our management group. If we are offering you Hamilton and Ferland, what is the best, last offer you can give me to take to sell to my group?

Jude: Okay, I’ve already considered all angles and competition and before we consummate I’d need final approval from Brendan and ownership. I know what you need, you know what I need. I know you covet William. I need to have one more talk with our capologist, but we are possibly willing to trade Nylander for that return.

Doug: Sounds great. It was a productive discussion. Let’s talk tomorrow or Wednesday.

As you can all see, it’s very difficult to make a trade today. Especially one of such magnitude. If Toronto or for arguments sake myself were to make this deal the Leafs would still have over $4.5 million dollars in cap space without using Long Term Injury Reserve. I won’t delve too far into the cap figures and I could be wrong. It’s not my speciality and if this were “real” someone would be hired to do that for us. But let’s take a look at what the Maple Leafs roster would look like after a blockbuster such as proposed. Arrange as you see fit. Nothing is official in our created scenario. Only the framework is in place, but the main parts are somewhat established or brought to the table. Would you consider this offer?

Thanks to and follow @CapFriendly

*After a call made by Toronto later in the day, talks have resumed.

Jude: Hey Doug. I knew we said we’d talk in the next couple days, but I have some movement pending. After deliberating, our feeling is William would be something to possibly re-visit in the summer. For us we’ve come out and said Nylander is a big part of our future. And we meant it. The winner of a trade they say is who gets the best player and in this deal although it’s a great framework for a deal, I have to pull 29 off the table. But I’m looking to deal and we would like Michael Ferland, Adam Fox, and we’d be interested in CMac if you are interested in our young goaltender Garret Sparks.

Doug: Jude, I understand about Nylander. We may have some other guys we are looking at. To be blunt, Nylander’s slump is a little bit of cold water on the deal for us as well. He should bounce back, but that is a ton of money for a player if he gets complacent. Adam Fox is a no go. We believe we will sign it and he was quietly a key piece of our deal with Calgary.

Ferland, yes, for the right price. McElhinney we can talk about; but again to be blunt, he has vastly exceeded all expectations and we finally have stable goalkeeping.

Jude: Yeah it wouldn’t be the time to move William at a low point for us and we see signs he’s going to be everything we hoped. As for Adam, that’s why we asked. Lol, our group loves him too. Justin Faulk we had discussed but again it’s the boxes. Now normally I’d want a player with term but in the case of Ferland, he just fits for us. We are very serious and have no issue moving our 1st, Sparks and Bracco for Michael and Curtis.

Doug: It is still not a deal we can make right now. Ferland would take your 1st rd & Kapanen to make it worth doing. We can get a player at Bracco’s level & a 1st round pick from teams for whom the 1st round pick is going to be much near the top 10 than the Leaf’s #1 pick. We track you out as picking perhaps #20 to #31; it’s a sliding scale of probabilities with #23-#28 the most likely. That’s just how we grade your Leafs out. You could make a huge run if you get some help for the stretch. We know that. I imagine you are talking to us because you know it, too.

I would have to take a deal of Sparks and your 2nd round pick for McElhinney very, very seriously. I would need to have our analytics folks dig into it and get back to my group on Sparks.

Jude: Kapanen we need for our run. He’s proven in the clutch and plays fast and heavy, the reasons we want Ferland. The goaltending we aren’t interested in unless it was something you wanted. Which it doesn’t sound like you are in need. So what about Pesce? Pesce and Ferland if Kapanen is involved and I can do, a 1st, Kappy, Bracco and more.

Doug: LOL. I figured you were heady enough that eventually you would start asking about Pesce. I am not trading Pesce, Slavin, Aho, Teravainen, Necas unless your guys are ready to be steamrolled in a deal you lose so badly you would be fired. Slavin and Pesce are the best defensive duo in the NHL. I can’t help it if they are still under the radar. Bracco, as I mentioned before, is fine but we have what we need in that level of player, and honestly better than Bracco, as we grade him out, in Charlotte with Necas, Kuokkanen, Roy, Gauthier, Saarela. We have some guys even more under the radar in Charlotte who are equally intriguing to us.

So to get Ferland, it’s got to be a real deal prospect and your 1st round pick 2019. Giving up a comparable young player to guys we already have doesn’t move the needle for us.

Jude: I completely understand and don’t mean to waste your night, I just have a trade pending. I’m not sure we have the fit for a deal if a roster player or top tier prospect is required for Ferland. The 1st is there for you and if you don’t get the deal you want we can talk about the prospect you’d like to add. But as of now we can’t move our best like Liljegren as we will need cost effective youth soon.

Doug: Carl Grundstrom intrigues me. For Ferland, I could take back to our group an offer of your 1st 2019, Carl Grundstrom, and your 2nd 2020. It’s not a deal I totally love; but I could at least tell the group we need to churn the data. Grundstrom has some grit to his game. We need to end the era of the Carolina Candy Canes. We know that. You know that. The entire NHL knows that. Ferland is one of those guys who has brought physicality and a mean streak to the Canes. I, for one, am pushing to get Ferland signed to an extension if we can get his agent to chill a little bit and let us make a deal that works. That is my preference. If you guys want to talk seriously about Hamilton, I’m fine with that discussion. It all depends how much you are serious about adding pieces for a Cup run or if you are more on a tour boat state of mind, seeing the great views. There are arguments on both sides of adding or not. It just depends what state of mind your group has.

Jude: Ok, I’m going to hold off on any movement. I will go back to the staff and take the night to arrange a hard offer to present by 9:00am. Always a pleasure and nothing but respect.

Doug: Again a great and insightful discussion. We will talk tomorrow and see if we can find a hockey deal that is a win-win. You know I love where your team is. I both logically and with my heart see you all as capable of doing real damage in the playoffs. I don’t want to create an Eastern Conference monster, but there is a part of me that would like to find a win-win just to see how far you guys get. We might be meeting you in the playoffs. Crazier things have happened.

Jude: Doug, you know I want to make a deal for both of us, you know me. I feel our time is now and I also know exactly where you’re program is headed. Let’s help each other get where we want to be. Talk in the morning!

Doug: Talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight.

*Toronto has held internal meetings and have long realized their need. The cost will be high and surely to be scrutinized. It is however as they say “The price of doing business.”

Jude: Doug, apologies it took a while to get back on this. Just like yourself we’ve been talking with basically everyone. With so many balls in the air I’d really like to focus on a defender if we may. Our interest for the time being is in Doug Hamilton. We’ve done our homework and believe you are making him available solely because your right side is set with more to come. Kapanen, our 1st, and next year’s 2nd is on the table. Perhaps we can talk about Ferland but this is our offer. I will need to look once more at our cap as we may need to send a contract as well, but this is the offer. Hamilton is a luxury you don’t necessarily need and Kapanen is something you do.

Doug: Works for us as well. We need to either make a deal or respectfully turn the page knowing we both gave it our best efforts. Hamilton is a guy we can make available just because we have so much talent at RH dmen. Let’s talk about Hamilton. I can live with Kapanen, your 2019 1st, and Grundstrom. We like that kid and he is closer to the NHL than a 2nd round pick would be. I would be willing, reluctantly, to take back to my group the offer of Kapanen, your 1st in 2019, your 2nd in 2020, and your second in 2021. It’s basically just math and probabilities to me. We need to get three NHL players out of the trade. Your 1st 2019 is equivalent to an early 2nd round pick in value. As you know these round categories are pure fiction. They’re arbitrary. After the top 5 picks the datacloud rate of success is a blur. Your 2nd round pick 2020 is also the same as an early 3d round pick due to your team’s projected success path. Let’s focus on a deal for Hamilton. We seem to be on the same page or close enough that we should be able to find a hockey deal here.

Jude: We are down to the nitty gritty as they say and the problem for us becomes if we move Grundstrom he is the heir to Kapanen’s slot based on style etc. We view Carl as a 1st, regardless where he was chosen and as your scouts know he could play in the NHL tomorrow morning. Now I will move both, but I have to hold my 1st for another deal now. Which could be for Ferland but let’s hammer this out. The counter offer now is Kapanen, Grundstrom, a 2nd and a 3rd in 2020.

Doug: Make it Kapanen, Grundstrom, 2nd 2019, 2nd 2020 and we have a deal. It’s a fair hockey deal and saves you a 1st round pick for future deals, including potentially Ferland.

2nd round picks are a crapshoot. Some become superb, but 90% do not become impact players.

Jude: I’ve got to consider our future and sustaining the pipeline here. Our scouts work too hard and we value them too much. I need to give them dice to roll. We would like your 4th this year and 6th in 2020.

Doug: If your offer is Hamilton, our 4th 2019, our 6th 2020, for Kapanen, Grundstrom, your 2nd 2019, your second 2020, I will make that work. I will have to twist arms and I am going to take heat, but I will make it work. It’s a little weighed toward your side of the equation; but no trade is perfectly balanced.

Jude: I have the green light to make this deal. It’s going to be painful for us both. That’s how we know we’ve made a fair trade. I respect the process we’ve gone through here and far as I’m concerned let’s call Central Registry. I believe we have a trade.

Doug: Yes, we have a trade. Let’s put the call in. While your staff does that, is there a deal to be made with Ferland? I love that guy. To be totally blunt about it, I am pressing to have Tom Dundon go for more cash than we are all entirely comfortable going. I am aggressively pushing the re-signing avenue; but obviously if it were unanimous, we’d already have signed Ferland to an extension.

Jude: As it stands we will be looking at cheaper options as a rental. I can put my 1st back on the table but not much else. We have others we are looking at with less market for and cheaper. Circle back or make an offer now.

Doug: We won’t take just a first round pick for Ferland. We already have a better offer we are considering. I can take an offer of your 2019 1st and Johnsson back to the group. I am not convinced they will say yes; but it is about the minimum we would consider.

I am glad we were able to get the deal done with Hamilton. He is going to help you all in the playoffs and in future seasons.

Jude: Yeah Johnny we are keeping. I’ll call back on Ferland but rentals, just not in our wheelhouse at the price. Let me make sure the money works on Dougie and let me call Bobby Mac so he knows first, I owe him one.

Doug: Absolutely. Talk to you soon.

*an hour passes

Jude: Doug we have unfortunate news, but hey possibly not. We will need you to take back an expiring contract you know and like. Ron Hainsey. We don’t want to let him go but his minutes will be going down and we have another deal for a cheap defender. Ron is a soldier and you know he can help your playoff push. For us we just don’t have the spot and to make it work he has to be part of the deal.

Doug: We can take Hainsey back, but it will also require you to add to the deal. Hainsey is an expiring contract which makes it feasible to consider; but we will need more juice to the deal. I suggest you add your 2021 1st for our 2021 second. There is just not that much difference but it’s enough to make it work. Some people get emotionally attached to late first round picks, but the math of it is late first round picks and early 2nd round picks are basically picking between Coke in cans versus Coke in resealable plastic bottles.

Jude: Well then my question becomes if they are so equal in value then why is it something of importance in this point of the negotiations. By adding Hainsey who you could essentially move, we don’t feel anything should be added. We could retain 1 million in salary but initially I asked for a 7th if we added him. I’m not interested in the shifting of picks at this time. Take Hainsey with retention and you have a deal. I’d hate to see it fall apart over this but time is of the essence here. Do we have a trade?

Doug: It’s a good question. I won’t give you the exact math because it’s proprietary, but a late first is marginally better. In any event throw in Ian Scott with Hainsey and we have a deal.

Jude: They say goaltenders are voodoo and who knows but we love Ian Scott and his progress and would never consider him as a throw in. I cannot add him.

Doug: Then tempt me with a prospect or draft pick to take Hainsey. If it were that easy to move Hainsey, you’d move him yourself. He has some value, but realistically we are taking your cap problem in Hainsey. You have to add value to make it work.

Jude: With money retained we could move him, but I’d have to go make that deal and then come back to you and by the time that’s worked out there could be movement elsewhere. You have the pieces you want. I have what I want. Taking Hainsey helps us both facilitate a trade. I cannot in good faith add.

Doug: I am not going to be able to get my group to agree without something more added. How about 2020 3rd round pick?

Jude: 5th.

Doug: 4th and we have a deal.

Jude: Without salary retention, then yes. I will need that space.

Doug: $500,000.00 retained of Hainsey. You afford it. It will give me something to help me with my group. It’s only for the rest of the season, which is less than $250,000.00.

Jude: So the deal is….

To Carolina:



Hainsey $500,000 retained

2nd in 2019

4th in 2020

To Toronto:


4th in 2019

6th in 2020

We have ourselves a deal.

“That is a major price to pay. I’m certain most in Leafs Nation will consider it an overpayment. As they should, especially on the surface. Allow me to explain why I pulled the trigger here. First, I’m not sure we can keep Kapanen long term. Maybe we can, but let’s just say I’m unsure. Grundstrom and the picks, it’s hefty. But the time is now and our core is in place. A core that is missing a bonafide top 4 or better RD. Now would I take this offer to other teams and go for a Paryako? Likely. But for the purposes of this story and the process we enjoyably endured, Doug Hamilton is our target. As mentioned earlier they say the winner of the deal is who gets the best player in the end. Toronto is a better team after this trade for this year and beyond. Will further moves be needed because of the cap next season? Yes. But I feel it’s doable and our defence not only going forward but today has improved immensely. If we are to believe we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, then this is a deal that was painful to make but gives us a legitimate chance to go the distance. Special thanks to @dabrams2021 who made a fantastic deal for his club from their standpoint. A deal that we both feel helps our organizations and that is the ultimate goal. Thanks to all of you for reading and following along through this fun and personally enlightening experience.”

Jude MacDonald @JudeLeafs

Author: TrueBlueLeafs

True Blue

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